Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Retrospect: 2010 FIFA World Cup

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The biggest sporting event in the world finally drew its curtains after a pitched month-long battle which saw 32 teams vying for the roll of honour of being crowned the ultimate kings of football – the World Champions – and earn bragging rights for four years at least.

However, the 2010 FIFA World Cup threatens to be overshadowed and be long remembered for the exploits of one certain Paul the Octopus instead of the dramatic goal that Andres Iniesta scored deep into extra-time to win Spain their first ever World Cup after decades of underachievement.

That hardly comes as a surprise given that the action on the pitch was certainly not one that football die-hards would have anticipated and relished throughout the four weeks of football, and the competition got off to a bad start as goals came a trickle during the first week of action. What more, yellow and red cards were seemingly dished out by the referees as if they were distributing candies to children.

Villa in action for Spain

Sadly, the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Kaka and African stalwarts Drogba and Eto’o failed to live up to their pre-tournament billing as being amongst the elite in the world of football. Perhaps, the weight resting on their shoulders was too enormous a load I guess. But the likes of Villa, Sneijder and Golden Ball winner Forlan rose to the occasion and had great outings for their respective nations.

This World Cup might also prove to be a vital turning point for those who have been lobbying for the introduction of goal-line technology and video replays to assist referees in making their decisions.

We saw a good amount of high-profile gaffes, chief of which was the 'goal' that England didn't score. So, look out for some changes by the time we reach Brazil in 2014.

Then we had all sorts of crazy results in the group stages. France and Italy were sent packing back home, and England, Germany and Spain came perilously close to emulating them.

The best part, who would’ve thought that of all the 32 teams in South Africa, New Zealand would end the tournament as being the only unbeaten team. How bizarre!

Suarez's handball

In the quarter-finals, we witnessed arguably the most blatant handball foul of all time. Luiz Suarez, who is known more for his goal scoring prowess as opposed to his goalkeeping exploits, did fairly well to keep out a Ghanaian header from going in. A calculated foul some claimed it to be but he dashed the hopes of a whole nation and of an entire continent. How unfair!

One of the highlights of the tournament though was the emergence of the young German talents. I would have to concede that although I am a German supporter, I was unfamiliar with names such as Khedira, Oezil, Boateng, Neuer and Mueller before the tournament, all of whom are around 21 years of age and who have very few international caps between them. But it is apparent now that they are future stars in the making.

Besides, to see Germany’s attacking impetus against the likes of England and Argentina was indeed refreshing from both a team supporter and a neutrals point of view.

 The other team that I supported – Argentina – fared quite well in the group stages but were undone by German ruthlessness. I think Maradona has done a pretty good job as a coach, contrary to what some might believe.

The colourful 'Vuvuzelas'

As to how successfully South Africa has hosted this World Cup, I think they deserve to be given the plaudits. Security was as tight as it could get, matches ran on schedule, and the much feared crime rate dropped dramatically in the days before the World Cup.

The only chink in the armour was that the 'Vuvuzela', dubbed the horn of Africa, spoiled the fun by muting the chants and what-not of the fans with its monotonous bee-like buzzing.

Now, with the World Cup over, there is a certain void, or rather emptiness that needs to be filled. You know, after all those late nights watching Argentina playing Mexico and Germany versus Spain. But I guess I can seek solace from the fact that the next World Cup is only, yes ONLY, four years away. In Brazil.

What were your best bits of the World Cup? Feel free to share your thoughts by dropping a comment below.
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