Day: June 17, 2010

World Cup 2010: France 0-2 Mexico

It’s hotting up, you know. Two terrifically entertaining matches this afternoon in South Africa have continued the 2010 World Cup’s awakening from slumber, and this evening France play Mexico in Group A. France’s advancement to the finals wasn’t, of course without controversy, but there is no place in their starting eleven this evening for Ireland’s bête noire, Thierry Henry. Should he come on at any point, you will probably be able to hear the booing that will come from the other side of the Irish Sea from any point on the entire planet if you cup your ears and concentrate hard enough. Irish supporters could indulge themselves, keep the sound turned down and imagine that the green-shirted Mexican team is Ireland, should they choose to. In terms of build-up, there at least won’t be many other matches that sound as dramatic as this one. We already know just how fantastic La Marseillaise sounds when belted out at full blast over a public address system, but Mexico have something to bring to this party as well. Himno Nacional Mexicano is as appropriately jaunty as you might expect, and there is something very pleasing about the way that the Mexican supporters in the crowd hold their arms across their chests while it is being played, even if the players don’t seem to do it any more. It is small details like...

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World Cup 2010: Greece 2-1 Nigeria

Finally the tournament has come to life. In the twenty four hours before this game we’ve had some fine football played by Switzerland, Uruguay and Argentina, some drama and a proper upset in the first of thesse games. We’ve even ahd some controversy going on off-the-field too. If we needed a reminder that behind this celebration of world football lies a grubby marketing exercise then there’s the faintly scandalous decision to prosecute two of the women involved in Monday’s ambush marketing stunt (which seemed, in any case, not to break any of FIFA’s strict rules) at the Holland v Denmark game. If you feel the need to tie your World Cup into a deal for an exclusive “official beer”, let alone one that tastes like muck, then you deserve to have your tournament ambush marketed. I applaud it and encourage it, even if I don’t applaud or encourage media pundits cashing in on the exercise.

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World Cup 2010: Argentina 4-1 South Korea

“There’s enough material here for an entire conference,” said the psychiatrist in the Fawlty Towers episode entitled, funnily enough, ‘The Psychiatrist.’ Argentine coach Diego Armando Maradona, we are told, is a modern day Basil Fawlty. A six-one loss to Bolivia, selected 107 players, scraping through to the finals, picking his 36-year-old mate who hadn’t played for Argentina this century, not picking Esteban Cambiasso…or any full-backs, or getting the best out of Lionel Messi. That’s been the narrative. The reality was high altitude in Bolivia, a mix of Argentine A & B teams, “scraping” through by the considerable feat of winning in Uruguay, his 36-year-old mate, Martin Palermo getting the winner against Peru which set up the chance in Uruguay. And he’s not the first national coach not to get the “best” out of Messi (although Messi’s display against Nigeria looked pretty “best” to me). The lack of Cambiasso and full-backs I’ll let you have. But is Maradona as mad as they say, or does it all stem back to one handball incident on 22nd June 1986? His last press conference before this South Korea game was reportedly gave credence to his “mad as they say” theory. But, in truth, the reality was little more than the usual pro-Argentina, anti-Pele rhetoric with a little added Platini, both in response to criticisms they made of him. There was some stuff about...

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Mungo in Africa, part 3

As the second group matches begin, results start to become critical and that calls for creative and incisive punditry from the inhabitants of the television studios. Sadly, Clack TV have appointed Mungo McCrackas, the Biblically-useless centre forward from Heart of Clachmaninshire FC. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some ideas of his own to put the story across, but it’s growing increasingly apparent to anchor Ron Bongo that Mungo might be an idiot.

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