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Upstart takes on the World (Cup): Day 6

Shane Palmer looks back as the Kiwis earn a point against Slovakia, Franz Beckenbauer hasa whinge and Brazil turns on the style in a result Kim Jong-il says was ‘inevitable’.

Winston Reid, the 21-year-old Danish passport-holder, wrote himself into Kiwi sporting folklore with an impossibly late equalising header to give New Zealand its first World Cup points. And funnily enough, the All Whites now have more points and more goals scored than their neighbours, Australia. Those who bet on New Zealand finishing bottom of their group (the odds were $1.01 at one stage) may be starting to worry.

Compare this scene where two teams drew, to this one where another two finished level. Who says AFL is the most exciting and passionate sport on earth?

Meanwhile German legend Franz Beckenbauer is in the running for uncalled-for snide remark of the tournament after attacking the quality of the English, describing their play against the USA as the ‘kick and rush’ of the old days. England manager Fabio Capello is reported to have locked himself in his room, and is ‘not speaking to that mean German, ever.’

Two attacking powerhouses, Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal, failed to find the back of the net, but not for lack of trying; Cristiano Ronaldo hitting the post from 35 yards out during the first half. Didier Drogba was rumoured to have labelled the often-criticised Jabulani ball ‘a disgrace’.

Brazilians have a knack for scoring ‘impossible’ goals – cue Roberto Carlos – as Maicon added his name to the list with this cracker as the seleção defeat a respectable DPR Korea 2-1. A late goal from Ji Yun-nam spared the blushes of the exalted one.

MUST-SEE: Some great snaps from the past couple of days: US President Barack Obama has a laugh at Rob Green’s expense; serial divers Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo share a hug – how nice; and Kiwi captain and hard man Ryan Nelsen disagrees with the antics of Slovakia.

EYEBROW/SKIRT-RAISER: Thirty-six female Dutch fans were asked to leave and interrogated by FIFA officials during the match versus Denmark after they were accused of participating in an ’ambush marketing campaign’ promoting Dutch beer company Bavaria – a big no-no as Budweiser is the official beer of the World Cup. The women were wearing dresses that came as part of a promotion with the beer – that funnily enough carried no branding upon them. Thus surely the list of items to be banned at the World Cup now includes the Jabulani, vuvuzelas and orange dresses.

REASON TO CHEER ON SWITZERLAND: They have the underdog status, they make great chocolate and cheese, and they will most likely be destroyed by ‘El Nino.  

REASON TO CHEER AGAINST SWITZERLAND: Spain play sexy football. Switzerland are comparatively rubbish, and have bizarre methods of attaining citizenship.

TONIGHT: Honduras opens Group H against Chile in Nelspruit. Honduras has Wilson Palacios tearing around in their midfield, never afraid to ‘go the hack’. If it kicked off any later than 9:30 most neutrals wouldn’t think twice about it. But we might see some goals; Chile finished second in the South American qualifiers and can definitely play: Honduras 1-3 Chile. Pre-tournament favourites Spain begin their quest against the Swiss in Durban and really look the goods with both Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas returning to full training in the past few days. Expect a solid trouncing: Spain 4-0 Switzerland. And hosts South Africa entertain Uruguay, who will hope to be slightly less boring than their match against the French. The crowd in Pretoria will help Bafana Bafana over the line: South Africa 2-1 Uruguay.

Shane Palmer is a first year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. Previous World Cup columns can be found here.

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