Tag: South Africa

France Fall At The First

In England, it isn’t difficult to run into Francophobia. Sometimes it feels as if a range of feelings from mild dislike to irrational, rabid hatred are hard-wired into our DNA. As such, those of us that like (or even love) the country that lies just the other side of the English Channel can find ourselves fighting the corner for what became and remains this country’s biggest rivals. This summer, it has been the French football team which has made some laugh and others cry, becoming the laughing stock of world football – for twenty-four hours, at least. For those of us that were born in the late 1960s or early 1970s, one likely outlet for Francophilia was the national football team. The French national team of the early 1980s, the team of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Dominique Rocheteau and Jean Tigana, was almost impossibly romantic. At the 1982 World Cup finals, they were, according to received wisdom, robbed of a place in the final by the antics of the West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher, whose attempt to decapitate Patrick Battiston went unpunished in a match which ended in a penalty shoot-out which Schumacher won for the West Germans.  Two years later, however, France won the European Championships on home soil. It was a victory of brilliance and almost unbearable tension. The brilliance come from Michel Platini, who scored nine...

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World Cup 2010: South Africa 2-1 France

Twelve years ago, at their own World Cup finals, France comfortably beat South Africa in their opening group game, going on to become the sixth nation to win the tournament at home. Today South Africa became the first hosts in the 80-year history of the competition to fall at the first hurdle, but their blushes were somewhat spared with this spirited display against an abject French side in their last game under Raymond Domenech. Twelve years is a long time in football.

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World Cup 2010: South Africa 0-3 Uruguay

Today is National Youth Day in South Africa. It marks the anniversary of the start of the 1976 Soweto riots, which began with the death of twenty-three people after the police opened fire on a protest in the township against the imposition of Arikaans in schools. The events of that day caused revulsion around the world – prompted in no small part by a horrific photograph of a dying child, twelve year-old Hector Pieterson, which flashed around the world – and sparked the consciences of many millions of people. It took almost two decades, but apartheid began to die that day. The ultimate sacrifice of those that died on the 16th of June 1976 (as well as many more before and afterwards) would lead to the freedom and salvation of the country. It is, therefore, utterly appropriate that the South African national team should play today, that football, the game of the oppressed under that wretched regime, should take the centre stage on this of all days. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the atmosphere at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria is thunderous. The South African team sing in the tunnel before the match, and the South African National Anthem rushes out of the speakers on the television. Seldom can it have been sung with such pride and such conviction. But can South Africa, who have the mother of home advantages this...

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World Cup 2010: South Africa 1-1 Mexico

The gloves are now off. For the first game of any World Cup, you always need to pick your strongest side. Anything else would be foolhardy, so we can be fairly sure we are seeing people’s strongest hand. How, then, did ITV do? This year it was their turn to take the opening game for the first time in eight years, and they looked keen to show they meant business.

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World Cup Preview: Group A

The 19th FIFA World Cup kicks off in nine weeks today, and as such Dotmund continues his almost-in-depth look ahead to this summer’s festivities. Today is the beginning of his preview of each of the eight groups, having been sent foraging for facts on the internet with only his trusty huge mackerel baguette for company. Predictably enough, we start with Group A.

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