Cup of memories

2010-07-11 11:20

Ghana and the Suar(ez) moment
Few expected Ghana to be the continent’s flag bearers – not ahead of star-infested Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria and even hosts South Africa.
But after being the first ­African country to qualify, Ghana attained more “firsts” at the ­tournament.

The Black Stars shone amidst the dark cloud that befell the ­continent when they became the first African country to garner three points in a 1-0 triumph over ­Serbia.

Ghana later equalled Cameroon and Senegal’s record of a quarterfinal finish.

But the West Africans’ sweet campaign ended on a sour note when a blatant handball by the Uruguay striker Luis Suarez ­denied them a winning goal in the quarterfinal. That was not only a rainy night of tears in ­Johannesburg but all over the continent.

Great goals
This week’s semifinal between Uruguay and Netherlands provided two crackers when Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Diego Forlan led by example. But there had been more before those two came.

Forlan himself had forced Bafana keeper Itumeleng Khune and Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson to retrieve his thunderbolts from the back of the net.
Who could forget Carlos Tevez’s scorcher against Mexico on a chilly Monday at Soccer City?

David Villa also scored a beauty against Honduras, going on a solo run from the left, waltzing past a defender and curling in La Roja’s first goal.
A total of 139 goals were scored in 62 matches, which is an ­average of 2.2 goals per match.

The 2006 World Cup had an average of 2.3.

Men in the middle of controversy
The most shocking refereeing decision was when Frank ­Lampard’s goal against Germany was not awarded after Uruguayan official Mauricio Espinosa failed to spot the ball crossing the line. Carlos Tevez scored from an ­offside position against Mexico, but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and linesman Stefano Ayroldi ­allowed the goal to stand.

Brazil’s Fabiano also got a ­helping hand from French referee Sebastien Lannoy when his two handballs were ignored in the match against Ivory Coast.

Even the hosts suffered when, although Itumeleng Khune did not ­foul Suarez, Swiss referee ­Massimo Busacca red-carded the goalkeeper.

Underperforming top stars
If you intended naming your unborn son Ricardo, Lionel, Cristiano, Wayne, Fernando or Didier, you have a problem.

Expectations were that Ricardo Izecson “Kaka” dos Santos, ­Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba would be the top performers of the 2010 World Cup.

But the sextet failed.

Only Ronaldo and Drogba found the back of the net.

England’s Rooney failed to score in 342 minutes, while ­Messi’s 30 shots at goal yielded no goals.

Kaka left the country as Brazil’s most ill-disciplined player (one red card, two cautions).

The underdogs on top
A joke that circulated on social networking sites is that in 2006, France and Italy met in the final. In 2010, they met at the airport.

Defending champions Italy were shocked by Slovakia, after being held to unexpected 1-1 draws by Paraguay and New Zealand.

France went home without a win.

Few expected Switzerland to ­defeat Spain 1-0, or Serbia to beat Germany by the same scoreline.

The knockout stages were not short of any upsets either, with Netherlands eliminating ­Brazil.

Germany may have expected wins over England (4-1) and ­Argentina (4-0), but they ­probably did not anticipate the heavy scorelines.

Other unforgettable moments
Emergence of new thoroughbreds

When Germany lost injured Michael Ballack little did they know that Thomas Mueller would turn out in the number 13 jersey. Other youngsters who shone are Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana), Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina), Giovanni Dos Santos (Mexico) and Keisuke Honda (Japan).

Coaching careers ended
The World Cup signalled the end of the road for 30% of the 32 coaches due to dismissals, resignations or contracts ending.

Among those were Brazil’s Dunga, the hosts’ Carlos Parreira, Raymond Domenech of France and Cameroon’s Paul le Guen.

The German “4X4” machine
Germany scored four goals in one match three times in the tournament, with two of those matches remarkably being against Fifa Top 10 sides England
 (4-1) and Argentina (4-0).

Germany won their opening Group D clash against Australia 4-0.

Vuvuzela blows them away
The vuvuzela has been blown at every World Cup match. In Europe its sales have been high.

Is it a spider, is it a camera?
The spidercam, which operates in 3D, was introduced in SA for the first time in the history of the World Cup. Suspended on strings, the spidercam weighs 22kg and has produced breathtaking aerial shots.

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