We’ve all had them: days when you have to do something, and no matter how hard you try you just can’t quite get things to happen for you.
It’s the sort of day that can leave one writing a preview column when a match has already begun… or the sort of day when your returning star gets sent off after 24 minutes.
We all know the story by now – so instead let us create a list of ways it could have been worse:
1. We could be French.
Short list, eh? But the turmoil surrounding Les Bleus has continued with Nicolas Anelka being sent home by the FFF for calling Raymond Domenech ‘un fils de pute’. This is a family programme, so it’s best you go to Google Translate if you don’t know what it means, but it’s fair to say it doesn’t mean ‘the greatest coach I have had the honour of playing under; a bold tactician and a balanced and fair-minded individual; yet remarkably humble considering your greatness’.
Nonetheless, not really the sort of thing you want to be calling your boss, especially not at half-time of a must-win game. On the other hand, perhaps Anelka is, how you say, clairvoyant, and decided to pull the cord while he could. That Domenech is on the way out is no secret, so the Chelsea striker decided to get his shot in while he could. He’s not the first. (language warning) Now there’s a way Domenech could leave the job with some measure of respect. Certainly no more ludicrous than proposing to one’s girlfriend following a humiliating defeat, non?
In all seriousness not much seriousness at all, some might even call it blatant padding, the above list could be expanded.
2. We could be Irish.
3. We could be any number of other teams that didn’t qualify.
4. We could be English – at least nobody was talking about Australia as potential champions..
5. We could be Cameroonian – the first team mathematically eliminated after a 2-1 loss to Denmark.
Cameroon too has been poor. Potentially among the best-performed African teams, they have instead been the worst. Rumours of infighting infecting the Indomitable Lions are just the start of it, while Paul Le Guen’s tactics have been called into question. But then he’s French.
MUST-SEE: Well, it didn’t take long for this Facebook group to spring up. Enough said.
EYEBROW-RAISER: As much as it pains me to link to the Daily Mail, their pictures of Princes William, David and Fatty Vautin at a FA function in Johannesburg are just begging for a caption competition. It also talks of the incident with the England fan in the dressing room. A different report on the same interview is on the SBS website, and it’s good to see that Prince David can still get guidance from dealing with the media from someone who has had his fair share of press.
REASON TO CHEER ON PARAGUAY: A picture of a Paraguayan fan named Larissa Riquelme has been doing the rounds. It’s probably reason enough, but in the interests of this section not turning into the “Phwooooar” section of a lads’ mag, how about Salvador Cabañas? He’s missed this World Cup after being shot in the head. No gags, just a genuine hope for a full and speedy recovery.
REASON TO CHEER AGAINST PARAGUAY: Teams with red, white and blue flags haven’t been doing so well of late. Save yourself the heartache. Plus, it’s bandwagon-jumping to get on them now – it’s the 67 minute mark!
TONIGHT: Yes, apologies for this being late. Technical issues, you see. Paraguay currently lead 1-0 and I can’t see that changing: Slovakia 0-1 Paraguay. (edit: Paraguay just got a second. Nicolas who? The real clairvoyant is right here.) Next up is Italy’s big test against Australasia and after the draw against Slovakia, there’s a genuine belief in the All Whites’ squad New Zealand will be happy with a scoreless draw but Italy will probably snatch one: Italy 1-0 New Zealand. The final match sees the Côte d’Ivoire attempt to get something out of a meeting with Brazil. Didier Drogba should start for Les Elephants and prove that no, they aren’t at all better off without one of the world’s deadliest players. Love him or hate him, his qualities are undeniable. Brazil might be spurred on by the wonderful form displayed by their great rivals Argentina the other night. This doesn’t shape as jogo bonito but the francophonie’s poor record should come into play: Brazil 2-1 Côte d’Ivoire.
Evan Harding is co-producer of The Contenders Daily Bite, a daily World Cup short which can be seen on Tribal Football. A Master of Global Communication student at La Trobe University, he is an upstart editor armed with a month’s supply of coffee and an ill-conceived $50 bet on France at 18-1. Previous World Cup columns can be found here.