Upstart takes on the World (Cup): Day 2

12 June 2010

Written by: Evan Harding

 There’s an old saying: ‘Life is full of hits and misses.’

Boy bands all over the world have discovered that getting the latter brings an end to making the former, or so I assume. Last time I tried to audition I was told in no uncertain terms to ‘just get out, you can’t sing, you can’t dance and please stop calling in the middle of the night.’

But I digress. Hits and misses. There were certainly a few misses last night as France and Uruguay played out a rather dull scoreless draw – not one worth getting up at 4:30am in order to watch. There was late controversy, as predicted, but sadly, it didn’t result in a goal. Thierry Henry’s appeal for a handball against Mauricio Victorino in the dying stages was certainly coincidental, if not ironic.

There was, however, one hit that will be long remembered: the first goal of the tournament, a rocket into the top corner by Siphiwe Tshabalala after controlling a Kagiso Dikgacoi pass, the likes of which even my beloved Xavi would have been proud. The ideal start for the home side was shattered 11 minutes from time by Rafael Márquez, after defending that would lie somewhere between shambolic and comedic, the South Africans allowing three Mexican players through onside.

So two draws, which reminds one of another old saying: ‘A draw is like kissing your sister.’ As disturbing a mental image as it may bring up, sisters on four countries (metaphorically, of course) puckered up, which in the World Cup at least means that no team in Group A will find themselves in a dead rubber come the third match.

MUST-SEE: Off to Youtube today for the recommendation and look! It’s the 50 best goals in World Cup history, set to one of the greatest songs of all time, and then another Foo Fighters song, possibly because it filled the duration gap. 

EYEBROW-RAISER: Let there really be fair play, let the referees understand what the words ‘fair play’ mean. If you don’t want to play clean football then go up into the stands,’ preached Diego Maradona, he of the Hand of God, he who was kicked out of USA 1994 for a positive drug test. 

REASON TO CHEER ON GREECE: Another team you could attach tags such as ‘underdog’, ‘plucky’ or in more recent times, ‘for sale, best offer’. Looking like the weakest in their group, the Greeks need all the help they can get and the fans could use a pick-me-up following the country’s financial troubles of late.

REASON TO CHEER AGAINST GREECE: They aren’t the only country teetering on the edge of fiscal ruin. What about Spain, who won’t put 10 men behind the ball? What about England, whose off-pitch dramas are a source of constant entertainment (almost as much as their on-pitch debacles)? Not only are the Greeks negative, they already had their feelgood story in 2004 and it’s someone else’s turn.

TONIGHT: The big match is tonight, a hugely anticipated and likely entertaining clash, despite the inevitable outcome. But enough about my Bombers. In South Africa, Korea Republic (better known to us as South Korea) and Greece, two defensive teams, look like they could provide another 0-0 but I’ll predict a moment of Park Ji Sung brilliance to split them: Korea Republic 1-0 Greece. Then it’s Argentina meeting Nigeria in a match which has the potential to be a goalfest. The two erratic teams will eventually shoot each other to a stalemate in a classic: Argentina 3-3 Nigeria. And we finish with two teams considered rivals because one drinks tea and the other coffee, or something. The USA has quality filling a number of key positions, but even the maligned players in the England lineup are top-class: England 2-0 USA.

À demain!

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.