So, months of speculation are over and the World Cup has begun. The first ever World Cup in Africa and it promises to be a carnival of colour and etc, etc <insert hackneyed cliche here>. In all seriousness, despite South Africa’s malevolent past, it is nice to see the World Cup reach Africa and the atmosphere in the country in the days leading up to the tournament suggests that South Africa will be a fitting venue for the World Cup.
The first two games have been played. The opener was entertaining – if not a classic – and featured Mexico in full-on Arsenal mode whereby they battered their opposition for the majority of the match without penetrating through to take the lead. It’s no exaggeration to say that South Africa could have been three, four, possibly five goals down by half time. However, South Africa fought back and a terrific goal, a lovely through-ball from Teko Modise (of Orlando Pirates and the current South African Premiership player of the year) to Siphewe Tshabalalala who rifled the ball in from a tight angle past the hapless Oscar Perez. But the lead didn’t last long and Rafa Marquez levelled for Mexico who went for the win in the latter stages of the game, which remained 1-1.
What was particularly frustrating in the first game – and this is sure to be a subject covered in future blogs – was the propensity of the ITV pundits to sound surprised when praising the referee because he came from Uzbekistan. As if it was unheard of for a referee to perform well if he comes from a smaller nation.
France frustrated in their opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay. In the first half Nicolas Anelka was reluctant to come into the centre leaving France woefully short of attackers when ever they broke forward, with Anelka all too often found on the wing. Uruguay defended in numbers looking to launch a pacy counter-attack, but ultimately it wasn’t enough and, oddly enough, the sending off of Uruguay’s substitute Nicolas Lodeiro nine minutes from time condemned the team to a 0-0 draw.
Not an inspiring start to this World Cup and, truth be told, not an inspiring start to the Half-time Whistle either. However, we are warming up, pacing ourselves, hoping to reach peak form at just the right time (i.e. when we have readers). There will be rants, well-reasoned arguments, stalking (of Guardian football writers) and general comments on football. For now it’s all about the World Cup Four weeks of relationship-wrecking football watching. Now, I’m off to watch the highlights I recorded of the two matches I’ve already watched in full today. Brilliant.