About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

03 July 2010

FWC 2010: Uruguay v Ghana

As Gyan stepped to take the penalty on the last minute of extra time, the ground was in ruptures; willing for him to convert, and "make history". It was a well deserved place to be in - except for the first 20 odd minutes, where Uruguay definitely had control; Ghana played really well, and looked the better team. They seemed to be running harder, trying harder, and playing better.

It would have been well deserved - Ghana were the best African team this year. And it's not only because they got to the quarter finals. They played better than the Nigerians and Cameroonians - and they handled the loss of their star player better than Ivory Coast. They did scrape by in the group stages, but played each match to win.

Sadly it was not to be - and despite the consolation from his team mates; I think everyone knew it was not going to be Ghana's night after his miss. Gyan was devastated after the penalty shootout, so much that he was almost carried off the field by his teammates afterwards. And the Uruguaians carrying Suaraz (who deliberately handled the ball to stop a certain goal) in celebrations after the penalty shootout rubbed salt into the wounds of the near 80 000 Ghanaian supporters (there were about 85 000 people in the ground, and except for a small section of Uruguay supporters, everyone else spotted red, black and yellow).

The world cup in South Africa, has been a great success in most respects. Every one of the visitors I have spoken to have loved their experiences. A Canadian family I met on the bus to the stadium was gushing about how much they have enjoyed their travels in South Africa; a traveller from, I think Malta (or one of the mediteranean Island countries) was looking forward to his first game drive in the Kruger on Sunday while the Australians on the bus to Sandton were very complimentary about the service they had recieved in their hotels and guesthouses (although they thought the Metrobus system could have been done better in terms of ticketing).

And the fans, have been very colourful - as per the photo below. I had great seats yesterday, 8 rows (actually 6 since, the first 2 were blocked out) from the corner flag - allowing me to get some really cool pictures of the game.

01 July 2010

FWC 2010: Argentina v Mexico

Sunday's match was the most competetive and most exciting match I have attended at the World Cup so far. This time, I went with a friend and his family using the park and ride at Gold Reef (allowing us to see Germany's thrashing of England) - though I think this was a lot less effecient when compared to the bus system I used for the previous game.

One of the great things about the World Cup, is the array of colourful fans that attend the event. There are off course the supporter clubs, this one being from Argentina, but there are also the stunning sombreros etc. Certain footbal traditions such as the toilet paper rolls being thrown on to the field have also been transported to South Africa - although they were cleaned up pretty quickly. So it is not only the export of the vuvuzela to the wider world - but also the import of various fan regalia.

Drums and celebration using drums are nothing new in football, and the Argentians were in high spirits after the game (and apparently it carried on inside!). Though I think the medley of drums and vuvuzelas at the Ghana v Serbia game was a lot more interesting!

Maradona has been criticised a lot, although he has succeeded well so far. But no one can really criticise his involvement at training. In the warm up before the game, he was very much involved in training with the players - instead of standing back and barking instructions. Maybe that is one of the factors behind his success?

Tevez's first goal was clearly offside from where I was perched - but that didn't stop any celebrations from the Argentians around me once the goal was given by the referee - although they did seem to accept it was offside once it was inadvertantly shown on the big screen; leading to the players' protests. But this also showed how easy it would be to deploy television replays as part of the game in large tournaments. The entire process took less than a minute; and big screens ensured that it was fair and easy for every one to judge.

My side of the pitch featured 3 goals, and I did manage to capture Higuain catching the stray pass from Osorio, on his way to the goals.

There are not that many games left in this world cup, and my last live game is tomorrow, where I hope the Ghanaians finally beat the Uruguayans.

27 June 2010

South Africans Supporting African Teams

While waiting for the game to start, C, the diplomat, had asked a very interesting question - are South Africans genuinely supporting African teams like Nigeria, Ghana etc. or is it a hype made up by the media? It is a very pertinent question - South Africans of late have had a history of xenophobia, and some of our fellow African brothers have less than stellar reputation (Nigerians anyone?).

In some respect, support for Ivory Coast because of Drogba, or supporting Cameroon because of Eto'o is not surprising - but would we support Ghana without Essien, and what about Algeria?

I was at the FIFA Fan Park at Mary Fitzgerald square in Newtown last night for the screening of the USA v Ghana match; and I found that there is genuine support for the Ghanaians. It did help that they played great football - but the true nature of support can be easily ascertained when fans heckle the referee for legitimate calls going against "your" team, show despair at the opposition's goals etc.

Last night was a great game, and yes, South Africans are behind Ghana. And I am looking forward to their match against Uruguay on Friday night.