Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Wednesday 16 June 2010 – WORLD CUP DAY SIX

It is snowing in South Africa. After a couple of bitterly cold evenings followed by a couple of games being drenched in rain now it is snowy in South Africa. There has never been a crazier set of weather for a World Cup. Hats off to the South Africans.

Word today comes through that Robbie Earle of the ITV commentary/pundit team has been sent home with a flea in his ear after dishing out complimentary tickets for the Denmark v Holland game to the wrong sources. The screen shows several beautiful ladies in short orange clothing. His actions weren’t ALL bad. Certainly they were better than his actual football covering abilities.

Today Tom Parry from Pappy’s is covering the World Cup on the Umbro website today. His entry can be seen here.

Elsewhere The Gaffer today alerts how the North Korea v Brazil match was reported as a 3-0 victory for DPR Korea yesterday in their native land. Team America would not have allowed this.

In a game that hardly sets the imagination alight instead as it kicks off I find myself in a pub garden having lunch with another person having another birthday. The sun is sweet, too good to be wasted on sitting indoors watching a second rate World Cup match. Eventually I catch up on the game or it catches up on me with the score at 1-0 to Chile. Picking up on proceedings Chile actually look half decent as Honduras compliment them well and make a half decent game out of it. Amongst their ranks Chile have a player named Waldo Ponce which just might be my favourite name of any player in this competition. Later it is he who has the opportunity to add a second but he falls short to a wonder save from Valladares in the Honduras goal who turn out to be an incredibly team. A pretty decent game (what I see of it) ends at 1-0 to Chile.

Espana are the favourites of many. Liverpool supporters love them for Torres. Personally I can live without him and them. And today as the teams are announced it would appear that the manager feels he can live without Torres. For the game I remain at my parents’ gaff where the big TV is. In the end it is a game that feels as if it never really gets started and certainly does not match up to the excitement that the arrival of Spain should conjure. After a lacklustre first half things fail to improve for Switzerland when Senderos nobbles himself and has to go off after 35 minutes. With my old man falling asleep on the other sofa the game reaches halftime painfully scoreless. So is this really the mighty Spain that everyone is talking about? A miracle happens just beyond the restart as Switzerland score when they literally smash through the Spanish defense as bodies go flying and blood gets spilled with Gelson Fernandes being the player to finally shove the ball over the line (in the 52nd). Suddenly I have my favourite goal of the tournament so far. This is truly brutal stuff and naturally the Spanish complain. Within ten minutes Torres is on the pitch but he fails to make an impact upfront with Villa. Eventually Alonso smashes the ball off the Switzerland crossbar with potentially the hardest shot of the competition so far. The game finally ends at 1-0 to Switzerland and a genuine shock that suddenly puts the England draw on Saturday into perspective. Spain suck.

As a beautiful summer evening in England closes the day out all looks good as the World Cup enters into its second phase of matches. The Uruguaian national anthem sounds like the theme music to a whimsical 80s BBC sitcom. Halfway through all the players begins singing in tandem, I guess that is the good bit. The first ten minutes are occupied with Uruguay putting on a lot of pressure but gradually South Africa take hold of the game and begin to pull out. As my mind wanders in the 23rd minute Diego Forlan fires in a wonder shoot, one that his coach Oscar Tabarez appears to have a fit when celebrating. Into the second half the game maintains a decent pace. When Suarez takes a bash to the mouth and begins bleeding he proceeds to spend the first part of the half with a tissue hanging out of his mouth giving off the impression he is frothing. It’s a great look. When it disappears I begin to wonder if he has swallowed or eaten it. In many ways the match pans out as a clash of sophistication vs passion and unfortunately the heart of South Africa does not appear to be complimented by an equivalent touch. In the 75th minute Uruguay through Suarez break into the South African penalty area and as Bafana Bafana think he is offside as Khune pulls him down in spectacular style. Unfortunately the referee signals a penalty and produces a red card for the keeper (the fifth red card of the tournament so far). Minutes later Forlan comfortably slots home the spot kick against the new goalkeeper. At this point South African supporters begin spilling out of the crowd. In a way it is nice to see that this response is universal. Eventually Pereira adds a third for Uruguay five minutes into injury time and suddenly it begins to look like South Africa may sadly not be progressing past the group stage.

Tonight on Radio Five Live Danny Baker gets a midweek show which again is one of the best forms of coverage of the finals. Hats off.

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