Thursday, June 29, 2006

24. WORLD CUP - MY DIARY-page 8


RESULT: 3 : 0

At last Ronaldo might have got his magical touch back. The first goal in the fifth minute of the match was a brilliant one. He could shirk away the off-side trick of the Ghanaians and then had a solo run only the custodian to beat. The last minute swerve he took to avoid the on rushing custodian was a beauty. It was all there for a fraction of a second, or even lesser than that. But it has the signature of Ronaldo of yester years.

Is it a good sign that he is coming back actually into the championship. If he continues to enthrall everyone with such tactical run and moves it would be great watching the samba team. Ronaldinho is still disappointing. He is yet to get his touch. Will he along with Ronaldo reach the right peak of their games at the crucial matches that are awaiting them? One has to hope so.

Of course Ghanaians had a spirited game and the African-Brazilians had to bow down before the original Brazilians !

23. WORLD CUP - MY DIARY-page 7

ITALY vs AUSTRALIA Result: 1 : 0

Quirk of fate? That is what one has to say of this match. By the half time itself Italy got one of their men sent out with a red card. Second half was 10 vs. 11. Ball mostly was in the possession of the Aussies – the game was centered around Italy’s goal mouth. There were many scoring chances. Either Aussies missed or messed them up. Foray into Aussies goal was just sporadic. Minutes were ticking off. Time was over. The whole of 90 minutes. Games extends for 3 more minutes for the lost time. Now the seconds were ticking off. When there was hardly a minute Italy’s Lucas Neill had a solo run and was at a striking distance when he was fouled by Fabio Grosso. Penalty was awarded and Totti did not have any trouble putting the ball into the right corner of the goal.

This time I expected Italy to win and also wanted Italy to win. It won. But always my heart goes in sympathy for any team that is defeated with a penalty stroke. This time my sympathies lie with Aussies.

Friday, June 23, 2006

22. WORLD CUP - MY DIARY-page 6

BRAZIL vs JAPAN result: 4 : 1

At last Ronaldo has broken his voodoo and has come out of the spell with two goals in this game. But Brazil, probably, needed a knee jerker. Though the ball possession statistics was favourable with Brazil, it was the Japanese who scored the first goal. It appeared that this opened the flood gates since there was more vigour in the game now and within a very few minutes Ronaldo headed a ball into the goal. Ronaldo made us think that scoring a goal was after all so easy. All these happened in the first half. In this half, it looked that Brazil wanted to specialise in minus passes and the game was very much restricted to their half. Only very sporadically Brazilians forayed into their opponent's half.

The game after the moiety took a different turn as the ball moved from one end to the other often. Though the Japanese tried very much only their citadel fell three times. The fourth goal was by Ronaldo again and some shadow of his artistic talents was to be seen in this goal. However, throughout Ronaldo was there in the field like a queen bee in its hive waiting for its slaves to bring whatever the queen bee wanted. His active movements were sparse. But all said and done, he has come back and proved his presence with those two goals entering into the record books. Let him strike back to his form and let more football flow from him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

21. WORLD CUP - MY DIARY-page 5



Brazil, as expected won the game but not in theie inimitable style. Still they have to fall into the groove. Their style - the total foot ball - is missing. Better they shake away their rustiness and shine better in furhter rounds if they are serious about their ambition of retaining the cup for the record sixth time. But it is not going to be tht easy, since very serious contenders are emerging even in this pool stage. I missed the first game of Argentina. Reports of their fine form have raised their rating. Germans with their cohesivieness and with the advantage of playing on their own 'father land' are also coming under the hopefuls.

Still Ronaldo's form has not become anything better than what was sadly witnessed in the first game. Of course, he was the one to supply a pass to Adriano in their first goal. Still he is yet to shed his lethargy and get into form. When he was substituted by Robinho a very clear difference was able to be seen. Robinho became the live-wire and his brisk running and good play opened up many chances. Actually the second goal by another substitute, Fred was a rebound ball by Robinho. From right corner of the box he hit a sharp stinging shot and the ball hit the base of right vertical and the rebound was tapped by Fred. Probably age makes all the difference. And also the burden and eagerness to prove oneself is naturally more with Robinho.


This match should have given a big boost to the Germans, since the game 'clicked' well for them while Ecuador were much wanting. Not a single pass was accurate and they were always found nervous.

Friday, June 16, 2006

20. WORLD CUP - MY DIARY-page 4


My real feelings about the British come out to the open many a time; for instance when I see some movies like “Earth’ I always spill the beans unashamedly, though I know that I am wrong on many points. (If you have patience, you can view my view of British here and the reasons for that.) When I see this match between England and Trinidad, because of the heroic saves of Hislop, the custodian for Trinidad in their previous match against Sweden I had a soft corner for that little nation and its heroes. When the forwards of England team, Crouch and Lampard missed great opportunities time and again my heart went for Trinidad out and out. The game also proceeded goalless for long till at last at 84th minute Crouch headed the ball into the goal of Trinidad and soon Gerard followed at 90th minute with one another goal.

The irritation over the failure of the England’s forwards was heightened by the excellence of Beckham’s brilliance. He was so efficient that all his long passes dipped right in front of the goal mouth, for the forwards just to finish it off with ease. But the forwards, Crouch and Lampard played very badly and missed many a chance. Beckham’s balls were like darts hitting the bull’s eye landed squarely before the forwards time and again all in vain.

On the other hand I could not understand why T & T played such a defensive game. My pick of the player of this match was Glen of Trinidad. He came in the second half as a substitute. He had the great knack of dodging many defenders of England and was able to create many chances at England’s goal mouth for his team. But the pathetic thing was that the Trinidadians were mostly on their half and he did not get any support from his team mates. Had there been a little cooperation from them, he could have changed the fate of the game in favor of his team. Such was his game. He could make solo runs with the ball and that is the end of things. Without proper support he could not end such forays into goals.

Anyway the better team won the match.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Match timings are quite conducive this time in a way – much better than the earlier world cups. The first match is at 6.30 – somehow I return home only around 7 pm.; so invariably the first half hour of this match is always lost; and then after 7 pm one has to fight with the women folk for that great serial ‘Anandam’ which is also from 7pm to 7.30 pm! So goes the first match.

The second match is a peaceful time and one is permitted fully to view this match with a go-to-hell-principle by everybody at home! But the third match from 00.30 onwards is too late for an old man like you, comes the advice from all corners followed by variety of threats. In spite of this I made a point that I will sit tight for the first match of Brazil in this championship which was played in that third slot.

On retrospective I wonder whether the pain that I took was worth all the efforts. The game against Crotia was very sedate never reaching any great heights. The utter disappointment was with Ronaldo. His game on that day just reminded me of the final Brazil played against France in 1998 World Cup Final. In both these games Ronaldo was to be seen as physically quite inadequate. The times his foot touched the ball were very few; even when he had the chance to get the ball, he never ‘played’ them with his usual artistry. He looked very ordinary. Even when he was caught offside, even after the free kick is taken for it, he was found in the offside without even hurrying back. So much was his lethargy. On the other hand, Ronaldinho was always well covered by at least two Croatian players not permitting him to have enough space to play his game. His toothy smiles looked more out of place and rather inappropriate. Carlos, the old war horse was showing his old self. In the end, there was a taste of dissatisfaction and disappointment. All said and done the goal by Kaka has saved them. Hopefully they come back with new vigor and better planning and above all, if Ronaldo comes back to the scene as the hero of last world cup, what a treat it would be.

If the above match was a sedate show of talents, another match between Sweden and Trindad & Tobago (by the by, where is this country? I keep thinking to explore it in the world atlas!) was a thriller. The underdogs T & T became TNT! What an explosion of spirit and their never-say-die-efforts. Kudos to these minnows. The irony of the match was many folded: the ball possession between the highly ranked Sweden and T &T were 60 : 40; the latter played with just 10 members for the whole of second half; the ball was always, especially in the second half, deep in the Trinidad’s half. In spite of all these things, Swedes could not break their opponents’ defense and score a goal. And the whole credit should go to Hislop, the custodian for T & T. He was the hero of the day. How many saves he made on that day! It was a gripping match, the Trinidadians robbing the hearts of all, of course except the die hard fans of Sweden and the Swedish themselves.

If the above match was like sitting on a TNT keg all through the match, one another match was like a pathetic drama ending with a great sentimental and anticlimactic turn of events. Yes, it was the match between the Japs and the Australians. The former had a surprising early goal, in the 24th minute itself. And there was almost a goal for parity from Australians but luck was then on the side of Japanese. So went the game for the full length – well, almost to the full length. Because in the last minute, to be precise from the 84th minute within a span of 8 – 10m minutes three goals against Japanese turned the tide completely against them. It was so unbelievable on such an event of three quick goals and the whole thing changed.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


10th June

First match was between England Vs Paraguay. Score was 2:0.
Match never reached any unusaula heights. Owen was substitiuted soon after his first goal, for what reason I dont know. Rooney was sittisng onthe bench. Beckam's long
shot was headed into goal.

Second match was between Trinidad VS Sweden. The former was considered the underdogs and their defeat would be with a two goal margin. But to everybody's surprise they held their fort, that too in the second half with just 10 people. Overall ball possession was 60% with Sweden and there were 8 corners for them against one for Trinidad. In the last 30 minutes ball was within Trinidad's half and in spite of all these Swedes could not get a clear view of their opponents goal mouth at all. Rock-like stood the goal keeper of Trinidad, Shakka Hislop. He was the hero of the day, undoubtedly. The dying minutes of the game was very tense and he made beautiful saves thwarting a victory to the Swedish. Swedish, both players and their fans struck by this unexpected result were simply stunned and remained so silent in contrast to the jubilinat mood of Trinidads after the game was over. In one of the earlier championships I remebmber a young Swedish player - I think his name was Brolin or something. I dont know waht has happened to that player after that world cup.


It was World Cup 1986. For everyone in India that should have been the first experience to watch live matches of World Cup Football since that was the first time we had TV coverage and that too, live! I did not have a TV at home then. There was only lackadaisical interest in TV since there were no worthwhile programs then. If at all there was one program which attracted every Tamil was the “light and sound” (ஒலியும் ஒளியும்) on Friday evenings. The rest were all in Hindi. Only from 1987, on the first day of Tamil month, Thai Tamil broadcasting came into being and we were ready to welcome it by buying a TV on 23rd Dec.,”86 itself.

So during the days of 1986 world cup I was thinking of all possibilities - whether to go to a friend’s house at 5 km distance or to choose some other spot. Luckily one of my neighbors was in earnest search for a viewing-partner. Even if Pele or Maradona plays what would be the interest unless a small group of football aficionados come together to watch a match. We found each other and made an arrangement. I would join him at 11pm or 11.10 pm, since the match started at 11.20. The ten minute gap was meant for us to discuss the teams, their strength and weakness and to predict the outcome of that day’s match. Then with rapt attention broken by intermittent shouts of ha’s, hoo’s and achachoo’s we would be absorbed for the next 45 minutes. Then the tea-break for us. We would be having a hot tea, banana and cigarettes. And of course analysis of the game with I-told-you-so would ensue before we plunge back into the game.

Watching these matches in the small screen was itself a very new experience since that was the first time we witnessed the work of graphics. Even the immediate play backs and umpteen number of angles covering a goal mouth melee were new to Indian viewers who would have watched only the tamashas shot at the studio interiors of Doordarshan – with the same set of stage-props for all countless serials. Hearing every time a commentator shouting - gooooooooooooal ! – would send a shiver to the whole body and psyche together.

Even before the tournament started, though we have not seen any world-level football till then, Brazil was our favorite team, since the love for Brazil is always attached to the fame of the all time great, Pele. One of the matches we remember was the match between England and Argentina, spear headed by the next-to-Pele, Maradona. The (in)famous hand-of-god goal of Maradona and the next goal by his solo effort from the midfield were memorable. The one thing I hate in football is the fate of any team getting decided by penalty shoot-outs. In every such situation my heart used to go to the loser, whichever team it could be. Umpire’s whistle for a penalty shoot out always sounds to me quite ominous. This time it was our favorite team, Brazil was destined to be defeated by France in a penalty shoot out. I still vividly remember the candid shots of sad faces from Brazil’s supporters in the audience – an old man, supporting his chin with his walking stick was unmindful of the tears running down his cheeks; a young Brazilian lass, bubbling with youthful energy till then, dancing and merry making during the game was now in total disarray, looking utterly crestfallen.

To compensate these sad tidings, we developed a liking for that pudgy workhorse, Maradona. All our support went for him and his team and we were happy at the end of the tournament since it was the final victorious team. Along the course, the English player Lineker also won our hearts, though not as much as Maradona.

1990 World Cup:
This time it was solo-watch at home and I remember the matches were in quite awful times, late nights or very early mornings. Most of the matches were watched in sleepy mood . Brazil remained the favorite team, and individually Maradona as the favorite player. Winner – Germany

That was almost immediately after my second heart attack. At the time of discharge –it was just a week or so prior to the championship - I asked the doc what are the dos and don’ts. One of the don’ts was seeing world cup, since I might become emotional which could hurt my week heart. That never deterred me. This time Ronaldo captured my imagination and the favorite team won the cup.

Very much disappointed with Ronaldo and the Brazilian team.

Ronaldinho became my favorite player. Japs got a soft corner with its captain, with his multi-colored hair!

Like any other time Brazil remains the favorite team, with Ronaldinho as its key player. The next favorite is Henry of French team.

DAY 1:
It seems games would be mostly played at 9.30 pm. Not bad. I think I have to skip the midnight timings for some matches.

Match I: (June 9th) Germany Vs Costa Rica – for long I have been thinking to identify this nation in the atlas. Should do it soon.
This game, the very first one in this championship, was a thorough anti-climax. Didn’t like the way the game went. Both the teams very much lacked positional play. When a Costa Rican player gets the ball, the Germans at least 3 of them will be crowding that guy. Bet before the game started was that for Germans it would be a walk over with 2 or 3 goal margin, that is, 2-0 or 3-0. But it was 4-2 which shows Germans in bad light.

The second match was between Ecuador and Poland. I don’t why my heart always go for the team with darker skin! Am I a racist; has to be so, always siding with the black-team (!) when the opponent is white. So also for Ecuador. They won 2-0. I watched the game 15 min. after the moiety. In the first half, Poland played with short passes and their opponents passed high balls. They scored once. But still in the second half they changed, I don’t know for what, their style and went for short passing as the Polish team.

Plan to add up further on daily basis. Let us see............