Highlights and lowlights of a lack-lustre tournament

Highlights and lowlights of a lack-lustre tournament

Hats off to Spain for prevailing against the dirty Dutch. Few fans would argue they weren’t worthy winners and despite edging all the knockout games by a solitary goal some of their football was quite breathtaking at times.

Not the greatest of World Cups though I’m afraid. Too many teams flattered to deceive. With the exception of the Ghanaians all the African outfits choked under the weight of expectation. At one point South America looked like it would provide all four of the semi-finalists until, one by one, they lost their fluidity and flair. The Asians did no more than make up the numbers while the Aussies and Kiwis gave us some brief moments of excitement before scurrying home to pick up their cricket bats and rugby balls.

Lowlights? Here are three of the worst:

  • The cheating. Yes, it’s been going on for half a century in one guise or another, but the diving, play-acting and – in the case of Holland – downright thuggery, all sank to murky new depths in South Africa. FIFA need to take a long hard look at some of this stuff because the game’s going backwards at an alarming rate. If the Dutch had won on Sunday with their spiteful brand of anti-football, it’d have been a very dark day indeed and it came alarmingly close to happening.
  • The punditry. ITV and the BBC played out the dreariest nil-all draw as they wheeled out an endless succession of cronies to entertain us with their wit and wisdom. Blimey they were dull.
  • Those infernal plastic trumpets. Contrary to what Sepp ‘perma-smirk’ Blatter says, the Vuvuzela has played no part in African culture and should have played no part in this World Cup. He certainly wouldn’t be smirking if he was bending over anywhere near me while I was holding one.

Highlights? I’m struggling, but try these for size:

  • The closing moments of the Uruguay v Ghana quarter-final. In years to come this will be considered the seminal piece of action of the entire tournament. Within a couple of minutes we had a couple of frantic goal-line clearances, a handball, a dismissal and a missed penalty. Ghana’s subsequent elimination by penalties was heartbreaking but footy fans the world over knew they’d witnessed a very special game that night.
  • Maradona’s press conferences. Footballing genius or posturing buffoon? You decide (I’ve already made my mind up). Very entertaining though,
  • Lampard’s ‘goal’. Controversial this one, but bear with me. England were garbage from the moment they got off the plane in Johannesburg and a positive result against the Germans would only have postponed our inevitable, inglorious exit for one more game. More importantly, that crazy decision suddenly had the rest of the world feeling sorry for us – and that hasn’t happened since the Romans kicked Queen Boudica’s butt. You can’t put a price on sympathy, and when the votes are counted and the announcement made for who’s won the right to host the 2018 tournament we’ll be lining up to shake that Uruguayan ref’s hand.

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So there you have it, my final thoughts on what’s been an interesting, if not exactly mesmerizing 5 weeks. Thanks for reading, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

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