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.