FIFA World Cup - 2010 :: Grip of the beautiful Game
Dr Kh Ajit Singh *
Following 853 qualifying matches, played among 203 Nations, that saw 2.344 goals, the nineteen FIFA World Cup competed by the shortlisted 32 countries including the host nation South Africa, kicked off at an altitude of 1700 metres at Johannesburg's Soccer City on the 11th June, 2010 in the midst of palpable excitements drowned in the deafening trumpets of thousands of Vuvuzelas. Since then billions all over the world have been gripped in a frenzy of soccer mania.
The first round of the World Cup (11 - 25 June, 2010) featuring 48 matches produced 100 goals many of which highly imaginative and superb as well. The average number of goals scored per match is 2.08 and this itself is an indication of the positive approach of the participating teams in general.
Qualified for the second phase knock-out round of 16 are : the group winners (Uruguay, Argentina, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Paraguay, Brazil & Spain) and runners (Mexico, South Korea, England, Ghana, Japan, Slovakia, Portugal & Chile).
Only, Group G, featuring Brazil, Ivory Coast, Netherland and Portugal has been dubbed as 'the group of death' before the start of the tournament but the first round matches have proven that other groups - C (Algeria, England, Slovinia & USA), D (Australia. Germany. Ghana & Serbia) and F (Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay & Slovakia) arc equally tough and deadly. In these groups, players fight in each game till the last second with their hearts out salvaging the National pride with a profound sense of patriotism.
France, the 1998 Champion and 2006 finalists led by the Bayern Munich Supremo Rihery failing to win even a single game in the first round have been a big flop and disappointment. The edging out of the holders Italy in the first round has been equally disgusting. On the other hand, the failure of Serbia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark and Ivory Coast to progress further in spite of their wonderful performance is indeed sad.
South Korea and Japan playing with grit, flair and solid team character proceed to the second phase from the Asia-Zone while Ghana is the only African nation joining the round of sixteen. The Asian and African teams have shown they are no push overs and that they are now as strong as any footballing Nation.
The most amazing moments of the first round matches might have been when Brazil's ty1aicon scores against North Korea from the tightest of angles following moves from Robinho and Kaka and when Japan's Honda & Endo score from free kicks. And Japan's manager shows off the strangest juhilation by kicking the bottom of Okazaki lovingly after he scores the third goal against Denmark in the dying minutes.
David Villa's remarkable two goals in Spain's win against Honduras bring back life to the European Winners that seem to lack competitive attitude in the match against Switzerland (0-1). And the tournament's first hat trick scored by Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain against South Korea will be long remembered. Playing in the tune of the 'late appreciation' by the ESPN football experts legendery Maradona's stylist LaAlbicelestes' display or magical soccer please the crowd and fans alike.
First round group matches have shown that the leading South American and European Teams do not seem only to have to rely on their traditional football philosophies. Just to mention, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina blend their latin American style with the strong European defensive flavour and techniques while the Germans, Portuguese and Spaniards pass the ball (Jubulani) among themselves like the South Americans do and still guarding their posts strongly.
The amalgamation of the football philosophies with a pragmatic approach transcends soccer into a newer height and people all over the world are enthralled having witnessed the demonstrations of how football could be played.
Now that the second round is underway and that Uruguay and Ghana, have outplayed South Korea and the United States respectively with the same score line (2-1) 'staging a fight for a semifinal berth. The Germans have stormed into the quater final round by snubbing England (4-1) in a lopsided match to stage a clash with the Argentines who bring an abrupt end to Mexico's campaign with an emphatic (3-1) win. In 2006 World Cup, Germany and Argentina clashed in the same stage and the South Americans were shown the way out via a penalty shoot-out.
With the progress of the World Cup entertaining lucky millions enjoying the matches live, billions of TV viewers enjoy the matches at the same level but with their hearts won by soccer and Shakira with her silken voice (Waka, Waka its time for Africa) and soft body movements.
In the melee, Bookmakers and Soccer experts are eyeing for a final show down between the five times winners Brazil and three times world champions Germany as they did in 2002 World Cup.
*** This article was written before the Quater-final matches were played in the FIFA World Cup 2010.
* Dr Kh Ajit Singh wrote this article for Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 03, 2010.
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