Thursday, July 06, 2006


I love soccer. It is indeed the world sport. I am looking forward to watching the final game on July 9. There have been dissapointments and moments of joy.

A lot can be written on the positive side. There are no more underdogs in world soccer. There was quality soccer no matter where the team came from (in the past, third world countries other than those from Latin America) generally fared poorly. Angola, Togo and Ghana for example put up excellent performances that shocked the traditional power houses. I hope that these teams will keep up the momentum (this is perhaps wishful thinking for teams from Africa where inconsistency is the norm). The quality of officiating has improved with most of the actors being tossed out or caustioned whenever offences fitting such punishment were committed.I was also impressed with the performance of unsung heroes on the pitch. Credit uusually goes to goal scorers in a soccer math but this world cup showed that the match can be won by defenders. Teams with soolid defences included Italy, Germany and France. Defendes like Cannavaro of Italy and Thuran of France were second to none. These defenders turned adventurous goal seekers into spectators. It was great to see that no one player as far as I could tell stood out as the star of the tournament. There is a lot of team work at play these days.

Dissapointments included the early exit of soccer power houses such as the south American countries including Brazil. I was equally dissapointed that the flair of these teams that has always been their signature appears to have evaporated. One soccer analyst suggested that this has to do with the fact that most of the south Ameican stars now play in Europe where the style is about being physical and racing with the ball. Deciding the winner by penalty shoot out has always been controversial. Good teams often exit the competition, robbing spectators a chance to see what they have to offer. Tough luck England! The golden goal rule, though not perfect encouraged players to work hard towards scoring that golden goal. It is no longer the case.Itwould appear that some teams chose not to play attacking football so that they could take the game into penalty shhot outs.

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