The moment the country has been eagerly awaiting for the past multiple years has finally arrived. Continuums of dignitaries, players and fans have graced our shores to witness the most beautiful show on earth. The razzmatazz has been palpable for the past three weeks and the once ominous-looking pre-tournament concert was held on the 10th of June without any disturbances. A nuance to all the calamity that clouded over the tournament mainly because of several grievances that emanated from various trade unions has come to the fore. A colourful opening ceremony followed the next day and then one of the most unifying moments in the country followed. Fan Fests and Fan Parks were inundated with patriotic South Africans to witness El tricolors play Bafana Bafana.
Eruptions occurred on 54th minute as Siphiwe Tshabalala scored a fetching goal to take the locals into the lead which was nullified by Rafael Marques not too long after. The South African team had surmounted expectations by showing such a gutsy performance and the punters would have caught a wake up call as odds were that Bafana Bafana would be the first country in history to be ousted on the first round.
The World Cup has seen many upsets and some heavy drubbings on certain teams. The tournament didn’t have to wait to long to see a team getting a vehement lashing as it was done on the 3rd day of the tournament when Germany met Australia. Germany with a surge of young players looked very nipping and caught the Socceroos napping too many times. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller inspired a 4-0 win for Germany. Australia would have a reason to feel hard done by when Tim Cahill their most prominent player was sent off dubiously as television replays would suggest but the referee doesn’t have the benefit of a second look. Portugal showed less mercy though to North Korea when they beat them 7-0 which bolstered Portugal’s goal difference prowess in what was touted as the group of death.
Germany would be at the opposite end of a dubious decision a few days later in their match against Serbia which was officiated by a referee who was exaggerating his usage of his right to flash. Miroslav Klose got his marching orders when he got a second yellow card for a very minor infringement. Adding insult to injury was the goal that came shortly afterwards and the Serbian’s tails were up and an upset was on the cards up until Germany had a surge of brilliant football in the Serbian’s half and the pugnacious playing was rewarded with a penalty . Lukas Podolsky missed from the spot this seemed to deter L a mannschaft as their play went in to pejorative mode and Serbia came out victors. Several underdogs had other plans for their more favoured counterparts as Switzerland managed to beat Spain , France lost to Mexico and South Africa while Azzuri lost to Slovakia leaving the tournament without any of the finalists of the previous World Cup in what has been a very interesting tournament. Les Blues had a very destitute tournament which saw senior players and the coach fighting and Le Sulk getting sent home. In fact if it wasn’t for Florent Malouda’s goal against Bafana their campaign would have been as fruitless as the 2002 tournament where they failed to hit the back of the net.
All of 5 African teams have failed to reach the second round phase and my thumb rule was spot on as South Africa failed to make second round stage but the fans seem to be proud of the boys regardless. Africa’s hope now are solely pinned on Ghana who until their game against the Yanks hadn’t scored any goals except with penalties. Ghana repeat what Cameroon did in ’92 and their task will be to beat Uruguay who circumvented South Korea through a Luis Suarez goal in the dying minutes of the game.
Best match of the tournament so far has to go to the match which saw England meet arch-rivals Germany who showed recovery from the upset in the hands of Serbia with a pedestrian 1-0 win over Ghana. This fixture which had Sir Mick Jagger amongst the fans saw Germany’s midfield dominate the opening minutes of the game to score two quick goals one set up by German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and another through the boot of Lucas Podolsky from a very acute angle through the feet of David James. The pendulum swung and England found a goal through Matthew Upson and stupendous play led to a Frank Lampard goal which was disallowed. Thomas Mueller scored twice in the second half to make sure Germany mortify the three toothless lions as England has become to be known. Some may argue the victory and say the dynamics could have changed if the goal was allowed but many teams have been robbed through bad decisions and this World Cup has brought more talk about tv referees in football as bad decisions have been downfalls to many teams already, The latest being an off side goal by Carlos Tevez goal for Argentina who eventually beat Mexico 3-1. Bad decision or not I know I am one of many South Africans happy to see England’s backs as I believe they have shown so much contempt in terms of media for this country about its abilities in hosting and one gets the feeling most South Africans’ romanticizing of England has come to an end.