Sunday, June 18, 2006

Footie on the Telly...

Of course the World Cup mania is upon us, even though it's much more subdued than the last time because we didn't make it into the finals. The only match I have watched from start to finish is the one yesterday afternoon between the little-renowed Czech Republic and the even-more-little-known Ghana, but oh! What a match that was! Even a non-footy-maniac like me was completely hooked and stayed watching the whole thing - because, for once, it really was a beautiful game.

First off, things got off to a civilised start because you can see the Ghanaians were really friendly when they came on the pitch and the two teams shook hands before the opening whistle. And then the amazing goal within 2 minutes by Ghana, and from then on we were treated to a nail-biting match between both sides actually hungering to win and eager to advance to strike goals. Many brilliant attempts were made on both sides, but of course the sheer joy of the Ghanaians on the field was infectious - Michael Essien tried again and again to score the second goal and never let up the pressure on the Czechs, and he was foiled again and again by the beautiful saves by Petr Czech, and yet of course, they kept trying. They so totally deserved to win.

Even the yellow-cards were fair. Yes there were fouls - but these were "fair fouls" rather than mean and nasty fouls committed by the likes of Roy Keane, say (oh yes of course I am being critical of the Cork man, so sue me!). The Ghanaians, despite racking up a total of 7 yellow cards, played fair and square in my opinion - humble or not. Yes they jostled the Czechs a bit, but they helped them up afterwards and the same vice versa. Their sense of fair play and mutual respect is what made this game beautiful.

Go on Ghana! I'd be cheering for you all the rest of the way!

On another note: it was a bit of a surprise to see a black player on the Japanese team this afternoon, but also great - football is becoming the great equaliser as far as ethnic relations are concerned, and that could only be a good thing. Of course, things have still a long way to go, just compare these to the ugliness of English football, with its racism and hooliganism. Still, I'm grateful that at least, every four years there is a chance to see football being played as a uniter of nations - "developed" and "less developed" alike.

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