World Cup Diary: Our lend isht girt by shea
It’s only a few hours until kick-off against Ghana so as our special pre-match tribute to the boys please enjoy this excellent rendition of our national song by the Pimster:
They might have scored an excellent goal and drawn their opening game but the poor old Kiwis can’t take a trick with the bookies and, insultingly, are still well below Australia in the international betting for the World Cup. Despite their 4-0 drubbing in the opening match against Germany the Socceroos are paying $580 for a $1 bet to win the World Cup.
The All Whites registered a noble 1-1 draw against Slovakia but are bafflingly paying $3001 to win the tournament. The only other team which betting aggregators worldcupbet.com have placed below the Kiwis are Algeria at a hefty $3501. For the record the Argies are favourites at $5.66, the Spanish (despite losing to Swtizerland) are paying $6.50, Brazil $6.51 and the Germans a pretty inviting $9.
Maybe the bookies have just got Australia and New Zealand confused - the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms. Lulama Xingwana, certainly has. Ms Xingwana yesterday signed a film co-production treaty with our own Sports Minister Kate Ellis who has just left South Africa where she was lobbying FIFA for our 2022 World Cup bid. The South African press is reporting that there were some confusing moments at their joint press conference, where Ms Xingwana told Ellis that she was hopig to learn the traditional Australian dance the haka. She then noted that Australia had peerless film production skills and had made major blockbusters such as the Lord of the Rings. No reference to how that great Aussie band Crowded House had gone number one in America or how dead-set Aussie legend Russell Crowe had done Australia proud by winning an Oscar.
The Kiwis’ patience with the Australian media of the Kiwis is wearing thin, especially after the Sydney Morning Herald claimed the Kiwis’ 1-1 draw as a win for Australasia. Writing in the New Zealand Herald Greg Ansley unloaded on our inability to cope with loss in the wake of Germany’s thumping. “This is not a people tolerant of sporting defeat,” Ansley wrote. “For a nation bent on winning, where children can almost recite from memory the number of Olympic medals harvested and where victory is regarded by its national representatives as a patriotic duty, the Socceroos’ defeat by Germany was all but treachery.”
Robert Green has been dumped as English goalkeeper after his howler against the US last Saturday. Perhaps he could cheer himself up by checking out the cute video created for The Guardian where a talented wag has used lego to film a brick-by-brick recreation of the USA - England game, complete with a little lego man version of Green lying on his back in disbelief after fumbling the ball over the line. Check it out:
Australians (including us sods in the media) have been quick to turn on coach Pim Verbeek and to question the performance of some of our players in the wake of Sunday’s events in Durban. Perhaps we should take a bit of a lesson from South Africa’s Steve Peinaar who was both happy and philosophical after Wednesday’s 3-0 pansting by Uruguay. “We are all happy and you can see the boys are laughing. Losing is part of life and we have to move on,” Pienaar told reporters. “It is normal for a professional footballer to be disappointed after losing a game, but you have to forget about it.” Nice stuff Steve.
The vexed question of playing around before playing a match has reared again after the Spanish media turned on their goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, whose glamorous girlfriend Sara Carbonero was photographed near the nets during the team’s humilation by Switzerland. Journalist Helen Popper of Reuters wrote a nice analysis of the sex question where she reported that the Argiies might be doing so well because they’ve allowed a pro-sex policy, with just two caveats. She quoted Argentinian team doctor Donato Villani as saying before the tournament: “Sex isn’t a problem. It’s only a problem if they’re doing it at two in the morning with a bottle of champagne on the go.”
Possibly the most unusual news story of the World Cup so far goes to Johannesburg’s Daily Sun, a screamer of a tabloid with a predominantly black township readership. Yesterday’s splash - SOCCER FIGHTS GOSPEL: TV squabble leaves dad in coffin and family behind bars - deserves an unedited run with all the punctuation and capitals as it appeared:
“Dad wanted to watch Germany versus Australia on SABC1. His family wanted to watch Gospel Times with Rebecca Malope on SABC2. But like most families they had only one TV - and one remote controller. So they argued…but this family quarrel last Sunday was BAD! Today Dad lies dead…and members of his family are behind prison bars. It’s alleged they beat the head of their house stone dead! David Makoeya’s family first told him he couldn’t watch Germany because it would have been his SECOND game of the day. So they held on to the remote. Big mistake…”
Forget the vuvuzela - the hottest item over here right now is the wooliest soccer beanie you can find and a good set of thermals. The Ghanians, who Australia play tonight, had to delay training at Rustenberg yesterday morning when the pitch iced over. It’s the same venue where Saturday’s game is being played, so hopefully the tropical Ghanians will struggle more with the cold than our team.
The niggle between the rival football codes in Australia sparked a bit of petulance over here in South Africa at an AFL reception in Cape Town on Wednesday night. While the AFL was a bit cheeky to stage the event in South Africa and in the middle of the World Cup, the night was billed and conducted in a spirit of unity, with AFL South African operations manager Joel Kelly saying every code in Australia should get behind our 2022 World Cup bid. The AFL had invited three members of Football Federation Australia who were in Cape Town on the day and free that night, but at the last minute none of them showed. Their excuse was that all three of them came down with food poisoning but the inside mail si that it was bad blood given the tensions between the codes over the World Cup bid and the battle for market share.
Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports Akua Sena Dansua says she dreamt that Ghana’s Black Stars had already beaten the Socceroos of Australia to go through to the next stage of the World Cup. A news site in Ghana reports: “The Black Stars are hoping to secure qualification for the next round of the tournament with a win over Australia, and according to Sena Dansua, it is the exact revelation she had in her sleep. Ghanaians must therefore pray for the team for the dream to come true.”
Given the dramas a simple camera shutter can cause at the golf, Ernie Els is unlikely to win any plaudits from others in the golfing fraternity for his call to permit vuvuzelas among the crowd at gold tournaments. The South African gets full marks for patriotism though.
The World Cup has been a bit light on for zany surnames since Otto Pfister ended his career as the coach of Togo, but Nigeria’s Danny Shittu deserves a mention, principally for enabling the commentator to say “It’s a top shot from Shittu” in the Greece-Nigeria clash on Thursday. No prizes for guessing what his less successful shots are called.
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