World Cup Diary: We are all New Zealanders now
It was the greatest Australasian moment since Crowded House won a Grammy or Russell Crowe earned an Oscar for Gladiator. But far be it for us to bask in the reflected glory from across the ditch.
The New Zealand All Whites are not only doing better than the Socceroos in the World Cup, they are magnificent in their own right.
In one of the greatest moments in the history of New Zealand sport - almost up there with the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup in 1987 - the nuggetty Kiwi no-names yesterday held the mighty Italians, the current World Champions, to a 1-1 draw. You can read all about it here. We salute our Kiwi brothers today.
Australians might have exploded with rage when Harry Kewell received his dodgy red card but the good news is we weren’t alone. No less a sportswoman than Serena Williams, a twitter addict and massive fan of the USA national soccer team, was watching the Australia-Ghana match and let fly when Kewell copped the red card for handball. “OK soccer/football need official reviews!!” she wrote at her twitter site, serenajwilliams. “Refs can’t see everything!! Review!!” You said it, Serena.
Pim Verbeek was showing his disapproval in a much more direct way by giving an SBS reporter a gobful straight after the match. As an official partner of the World Cup SBS is entitled to a brief exclusive with the coach before his all-in press conference. SBS eporter Vitttor Sobrail asked Verbeek whether our two red cdards in successive matches suggested the Socceroos had a discipline problem. Verbeek said on camera that it was “a stupid question” and, off camera, gave an even pithier assessment. “You’re a f***ing idiot,” he said.
The Socceroos arrived in Rustenberg on Friday to settle in well ahead of Saturday’s game. It was a good idea because even though it’s less than 200km from Joburg there is only road in, and drive was taking as long as six hours last weekend when England played here. Despite their early arrival their night didn’t go without a hitch - the Socceroos spent two hours sitting in total darkness on Friday night when the hotel lost its entire power supply. For the travelling media the two-hour drive from Joburg to Rustenberg was a pleasant one, taking in some pretty countryside and rolling hills. The one slightly unnerving bit was the roadsign near the town of Hennops reading “Hijacking hotspot next 4km.” Happily we made it through without being stopped by a marauding gang.
Ouch. Under the confronting headline “Vuvuzela blower rips her windpipe” The Saturday Star newspaper reports that Yvonne Meyer, a 29-year-old insurance saleswoman from Cape Town, ruptured her throat while making her debut on the plastic horn. “I had never blown a vuvuzela before but was given one at work,” Meyer said. “I was going to watch the first South Africa match so I thought I’d take it along. I was blowing it as hard as I could when suddenly my throat began to hurt. At first I thought I’d gone down with a bug but the next day it was worse. When I went to to the doctor he took a look and laughed. He said I’d ruptured my throat by blowing too hard and that perhaps I had been doing it all wrong.” Ms Meyer wasn’t allowed to eat for two days. “I was starving,” she added. “I finally ate some yoghurt on Monday.”
Anyone back home who is fed up with soft sentences and judges doling out slaps on the wrist should consider moving to South Africa. Local man Themba Makhubu was this week sentenced to five years’ jail for stealing a mobile phone off an Argentinian fan. It was his first offence. In addition to the whopping sentence Magistrate Hein Louw gave Makhubu quite a gobful. “You knew of the negative media reports that South Africa is receiving internationally because of crime in this country,” he said. “You knew the man you stole from was not from here. If you had a previous conviction this court would not have hesitated to sentence you to between 10 and 15 years in jail. Talk about zero tolerance.
Angry hookers have lashed out at tourists as “boring” and soccer-obsessed, saying the anticipated spike in takings from illicit World Cup sex romps has failed to materialise. One reason is that the entire Egyptian team was robbed at last year’s Confederations Cup, and prostitutes were blamed for the theft. While the call girls were eventually cleared of the robbery most hotels in Johannesburg now have a strict no prostitution policy, and refuse to let any suspect-looking women through the foyer. Johanessburg strip clubs are also feeling the pinch, saying they have not seen any increase in crowds despite the tourist surge. “Guys would rather watch soccer,” complained Paula at Executive Shows, a firm which provides exotics dancers for strip clubs. “I am counting down the days until the end.”
We all know about the tireless hard work of our future King William and his bloodnut brother Harry. They’ve been flat out in South Africa, helping inspire the glorious English team to its 0-0 draw against that footballing powerhouse Algeria on Friday. But it’s the work of the Royals in furthering England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup which is causing concern. Wills and Harry were the guests of honour at a Royal Reception in Johannesburg on Saturday where they schmoozed local glad-handers. David Beckham, who’s been busy on the bench motivating the England players as they notch up draws against countries that can’t play soccer, was also a guest of honour, as was London Lord Mayor, publisher and cycling nut Boris Johnson. Other nations bidding for the 2018 tournament have complained that the Royal Reception was a breach of FIFA’s strict guidelines covering unsanctioned events promoting World Cup bids.
Aside from cruelling their chances of making the second round, Bafana Bafana’s 3-0 loss to Uruguay has dashed the dreams of South African retailers who were hoping for a merchandise bonanza throughout the World Cup. The sale of green and gold Bafana jerseys and clothing has come to a halt. And the other nation which is having trouble shifting gear? England, which after its two uninspiring draws against the USA and Algeria is struggling to harness the usual late surge in support from international fans, mainly because they’re, you know, crap.
You’ve got to take your hats off to the AFL. We might be in the middle of the biggest footballing festival on the planet but they’ve just held their second Aussie Rules promotion in South Africa in three days. Fresh from Wedesday’s reception in Capetown by the AFL’s South African arm - there are 15,000 registered participants here, where Aussie Rules is known as FootyWild - footy legend Ron Barassi has now come over and was at Rustenburg on Saturday having a kick with some township kids before the Ghana game. Barassi, who played 254 games for Melbourne and Carlton, and coached Carlton, North Melbourne, Melbourne and the Swans, was scheduled to visit Cape Town yesterday, which is emerging as a cradle for Aussie Rules talent. Sinethemba Boki, a 17-year-old from Khayelitsha, is one of three young South Africans representing the World XVIII at the AFL National Under 16 Championships in Australia this year, and 19-year-old Bayanda Sobetwa, also from Khayelitsha, was recruited by Greater Western Sydney earlier this year.
In closing, and totally unrelated to the world game, we liked this headline in The Star. It’s pretty self-explanatory. “I throttled wife so she would let go off my testicles, accused tells court”.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…