Sunday, July 18, 2010

Football World Cup 2010 - The Memories

The Football World Cup 2010 was here. Waka Waka....What joy !!! Much like the boys enjoyed watching the games..leaving the girls to sulk for attention or pretend to be indifferent.. it was heaven for 90 minutes (if a game stretched beyond that...twas bliss). A football world cup comes once in 4 years, and chances are, a guy would get to enjoy only 2-3 of them during his prime time, that is..after the harassment of studies/entrance exams/homework and before the ultimate justice that awaits him - grocery shopping, nappy changing and being the head of the family. Please do not hold the time-continuum arrogance against me. I am just one of those guys at the moment, and hence such statements would make me bask in my youthful glory, again and yet again. I am sure the other age groups can be as big fanatics of the game as any one else. Even women, YES (i came across a few rare breeds who actually loved football...quite so unlikely..but, what the hell...a WOMAN who loves football !! For your benefit O fair maidens...this is almost a metaphor for a guy who loves mindless shopping for hours and doesn't tire out even after your 13th dress trial and offers different sweet comments each time). So bear with me sweethearts, on this one....

So onto the football now. Yeah, this was the 4th World Cup i consciously watched and maybe followed the game most seriously this time around. South Africa played hosts to the world and although now i get to read of the aftermaths and turmoils of creating such billion dollar infrastructure, it all looked grand, the Aadivasi flavor attached. The games progressed very well and some minnows did spring surprises to start with. World Champions SPAIN suffered the first heart attack when Switzerland beat them. The New Zealand teams outing was said to be a vacation, but they proved their salt when they drew with Italy. There were cakewalk groups out of which teams like England still made heavy weather. There were fiercely competitive group like that of Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast, and quality football was almost always displayed.

France and Italy received the first heartbreaks, bowing down in the group stages. The French team came with it's share of controversies, and Italy paid the price for compromising on experience. Ivory coast was another star studded side and they must consider themselves unfortunate to go out in the group stages. One particular game when the Portuguese slammed 7 against North Korea, stood out. The Germans were also scoring prolific in most of their games, with a much balanced side of youth and experience. Argentina came in as a strong contender, and I stand in true testimony, that if there ever was a man most involved in this World Cup, it was their coach Diego Maradona. Jumping on the baseline, kissing the players, screaming at the refs...the little man did everything !! Spain proceeded slowly but confidently with David Villa making his reputation grow stronger as one of the best strikers. The dutch team had its stars, but were always comsidered unpredictable. However this time they were firing.

The round of 16 saw some of the minnows making name for themselves. Japan, Paraguay, Ghana, Mexico...all bowed out but gained a lot of respect. England, my first favourites had a humiliating exit at the hands of Germany. There might have been a dubious decision but now as the record books show, they lost comprehensively. Sob Sob... Time for the quarters... The Uruguay team had performed marvelously mostly being led by the most inspiring player i saw this time - Diego Forlan. Forlan did everything that a footballer could and whenever he played it looked as if the game revolved around him. Hw scored long distance goals, he scored on free kicks..he rubbished the Jabulani ball myth and he truly went into the record books head held high as the recipient of the Golden Ball. There was the young gun Suarez too who scored a lot of goals but will be remembered also for a few wrong reasons as he repeated the Hand of God - part 2 during the quarters against Ghana. Asamoah Gyan failed on the penalty, the black stars and Africa's only hopes went crashing. Heartbreaks were plenty when the dutch beat Brazil in the quarters, with the whole of Kolkata shedding copious tears that could have possibly led to a flood over howrah bridge. Joga Bonito - not this time pals !! The best game of the tournament was touted to be the QF between Germany and Argentina and then came the shocker. The fuhrer's men beat Maradona's boys, Messi, tevez and sundry all high and dry. The raw physical power and counter attack was too much to handle. Mesut Oezil and Thomas Mueller had arrived at the international stage and are sure to grow into stars soon. Old timers like Lahm, Podolski and Schweinstiger were also playing extra special, while Miroslav Klose etched his name on the WC record books as one of the most successful strikers of all times.

The 4 semifinalists weren't quite the most popular predictions. The Oranges edged over Uruguay and broke Forlan's and his countrymen's hearts. Spain benefitted with their most of their players' experience of playing
 together and controlled the ball in a frenzy and making the germans play at their pace. It was an educational game for the learners of the game. Finally a clever set-piece did Germans over. Carlos Puyol, the defender, the rockstar..had scored.

Spain and Netherlands went into the finals, both waiting to be crowned world champions for the first time. Wisdom and clever play prevailed over aggresive fouling, which was the only resolve the dutch could come up with to counter Spain's brilliant ball game. It was almost a fitting end as, Andres Iniesta..the think tank, the strategist, the MAMAjee of Rajneeti, scored the winner in the 116th minute of extra time. Espanyollllllllllllllll my status message on FB read then and they didnt dissappoint.

This World Cup, had its share of fun and distractions. The Jabulani, the Vuvuzelas, the crowd all prevailed, good and bad, and in the end Football ruled. A game most followed in the world, as simple as involving just 1 ball and a whole lot of skills and enough attraction to even move cricket crazy nations like ours sit up and take notice, truly - JOGA BONITO - it's a beautiful game.

This world cup will remain as heartfelt as this post. I am writing this so that in the future i can read this and revisit my days of youth. Those beer bashes...those cursing your mates when their team scored against yours...those victory dances...those OMIGAWD moments...shall always remain. 4 years from now will never be the same...i hope the game however will remain as awesome as it is. Brazil, a 4 year older than now man, will await you. For all the footballing moments i shared with my was a pleasure !!