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WC2010 revisited
By Abdalla M. Taryam July 14, 2010
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As the rumpus of the vuvuzelas falls silent for good, or at least I hope so, football fans alike try to analyse the best and worst of the concluded World Cup.  The top performers, finest goals and worst calls will all be fiercely argued but what will we remember South Africa 2010 by?

It didn’t start with a bang I must admit. In fact, anti-football tactics dictated most of the group stage, leaving the fans bemused as to why teams were afraid to play. Not until the final round of matches in the group stage did we see some teams move out of their hibernation mode. Of course there are exceptions to this, as Germany and Maradona’s boys both set out to entertain from the get go.

I blame Jose Mourinho for all this. He has shown managers how to win ugly and that any team, no matter how weak they may appear on paper, can grind out a result with a highly defensive yet unpleasant approach. A perfect example is the match between the mighty Brazil and Kim Jong-Il’s potential defectors. 

Saying this, I was overjoyed that almost all the teams that took part in ruining the footballing experience for millions of viewers ended up getting their 90 minutes of fame but ultimately arriving back home before the postcards did. Yes, I am talking about Switzerland, Greece and Algeria. 

As expected, Italy and France were amongst the powerhouses that humiliatingly exited at the first stage. The French squad actually went a little further by bringing their national pastime of striking to the World Cup, dishonouring their country in the process. 

The tournament did eventually come to life with some scintillating performances from the unlikeliest of sources. The Asians were the first to take the plaudits, as Korea and Japan easily secured their passage to the second round while their African counterparts, bar Ghana, astonishingly failed to achieve the expected results.

As the World Cup progressed we noticed that the teams that played the better style of football prevailed. England and Brazil where both berated for their tactics regardless of their contrasting results and eventually were sent packing by more adventurous teams. I am sure that neutral fans like myself will agree with me when I show no sympathy to those two sides. Favorites or not, the team that went out to entertain won and Germany and The Netherlands deservedly took care of that. 

Also one of the highlights of the tournament was the colorful Maradona. Although his team did eventually get humbled, he did not fail in imprinting a lasting image of his deservedly arrogant personality on our minds. Oh did I wish to see him lift that golden trophy again but sadly it was not meant to be.

Moving on to the eventual champions Spain, we must remember the firsts that they achieved at this competition. They became the first team to lose their opening match and go on to win it, the first European side to win outside the continent and the first team to win the final with an extra time goal. 

Often heralded as a great attacking side due to their immense skills at keeping possession, the champions were in some manner criticised for having four consecutive 1-0 victories and only accumulating 8 goals. I actually get irritated when I hear this analysis. Here we have a team so brilliant with the ball that all oppositions without exceptions feared.  As a result every manager they encountered placed all men behind the ball. Even Joachim Löw who enjoyed numerous 4-goal outings completely changed his game plan when facing the pass masters. Not to mention the thuggery that the Dutch employed in the final. 

When you have a world-class team strictly trying to stop you from playing, you usually have limited opportunities. So if you want to blame anybody for the meagre score lines direct it towards Spain’s oppositions. Spain was by far the best team on the planet heading into the tournament and now they simply cemented that view by claiming the cup. 

On the bad refereeing calls, I lend my voice to those against the introduction of technology. Why you may ask, because it’s part of the game. A game that has advanced from black and white viewing to 3D in only 40 years but on the pitch still maintains the same basic rules played by all levels. 

As the curtains fall on the first African World Cup, pundits usually share their opinions on who the best player was and naming the best goal. Never will we find a decision on these topics that everyone agrees on, which is why I leave that to you the viewer, the fan. I will leave you with one interesting fact though that will be my lasting memory: New Zealand remains the only undefeated team in South Africa 2010.

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