July 17, 2010

the final

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — HarryCool @ 9:46 am

July 12, 2:30 AM to 5:00 AM – A Day & Time I will never forget.
 Hong Kong, Lan Kwai Fong

The Dutch coach says very appropriately my sentiments for all those who are criticizing them for their aggressive play. He has said it better than I’d have and I will bold and underline the most important part …

“It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were also facing a very good opponent,” said Bert van Marwijk, the Netherlands coach. “Spain is the best football country the past few years. I think both sides committed fouls. It may be regrettable this happened in a final. That’s not our style. But you do play to win.”

absolute-fuckin-ly !! 

 but then I can’t resist my own rant too, can i? …

It was finally the best match of the world cup and quite appropriately the final too. Oh boy, what a contest. No player could keep the ball to himself even for one second and that for the entire 120+ minutes. Why? Because the 11 – each one of those 11 – on the other side won’t let him. It was thrilling to watch this game and an exemplary show of commitment by each of the 22 players and 3 referees. It must be shown as an example of how you get committed to your cause in military schools, to young kids and wherever! Amazing, simply amazing.

The thing about this game is that it does not do justice to read about it. One needs to watch it – the full game – to realize how tough this competition was between a highly skillful side vs another one which just won’t settle for the 2nd place – both the sides deserved to win on 11th July 2010. But it had to be one. That is what was so fuc – k – ing great about this game! I loved it. An experience I’d never forget in my life. It was beyond words. I could not think of any words to express my thrill to my wife after the game and so I just kept quiet about it, talked about other things and walked back home with her. I still get goose bumps when I think about the game.

To put it simply it was a game of football among 2 teams in which the total of 22 men had individually resolved that they’ll go home as winners. This game was a show of how it works out when 11 men on two sides each resolve in equal intensity to get that one thing – that beautiful, very beautiful Jules Rimet Trophy.

My ways in life owe a lot to the way I played football. And this is one of those games I’d remember every time I’ll need an uplift in my resolve for anything I’d go after.

End note – the thing about this game and its lesson though is that one needs to be a long-standing viewer (and a player) of any team contest like football, hockey, cricket etc to know that this was not an ordinary contest of a final in a tournament. This was not the everyday final. This was beyond it. This was very much beyond it. An acute observer of players’ behavior in a team contest will always notice someone slacking off somewhere, someone not running hard enough, someone not paying attention, someone not going after a ball with 110% intent to take it back. That acute observer will not find that moment in this game.


July 3, 2010

The African Tragedy

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — HarryCool @ 2:54 pm

For that very moment it was heartbreaking the way Ghana lost but the fact is they should have won this game much earlier than the extra time of extra time. The way Ghana played the entire match is the bigger reason of their defeat today then the missed penalty by Gyan. I have throughout the tournament criticized the Africans (all African teams) for their lack of finish, running out of ideas in the D or cold feet. They are physically strong, control the ball well in the midfield, extremely confident and play a Brazilian style which looks better than Dunga’s men did in this world cup. The fact is that Uruguay capitalized on the opportunity which were presented while Ghana could not on their own-created opportunities. So many chances were not converted throughout the game (and the tournament for that matter). 

Ghana reaching this stage of the tournament in spite of the ton of missed opportunities in the games before, in itself is a blessing; that they should not really call this situation unlucky now. At the very best, it is poetic justice for them. All the little strokes of luck throughout the tournament were undone by this one unlucky one.

I am actually a big fan of the way Africans play and really wish them well by heart. All my small little interactions with Africans in person so far have been very pleasant and so I like them as individuals as well. This liking for Africa is what frustrates me when I see them struggle near the goal after a great build-up from the middle. This behavior reminds me of the Indian Cricket team of the past when they were known to choke in close encounters. They still do, but only in the final :p 

Ghana looked like they finally had the touch in the game against the Yanks but it wasn’t enough for this one.

 Uruguay got the opportunity and they took it. They too fought hard but were not the better of the two sides. Any footballer worth his time in sport would have done the same thing as Suarez. His actions were absolutely in line with what happens in football in situations like that. In fact he wouldn’t have thrust his hands out deliberately for that matter. This was an instinctive handball. If you look at the footage carefully, had he thought a little more (wasted more fractions of seconds), he could have headed the ball out as well as it was not that high and looked within reach. But in a split second situation like this, it’s not the brain but the spinal cord that takes the decision which we usually call as a reflex action. It’s like slamming the breaks of your car in an absolute emergency. You don’t think, rationalize or look for other ways. You do what comes first. So he is safe from my criticism! 

Football is a team game and today it is more important than ever to remember this then to just blame Gyan for the defeat or Suarez for the victory. 

Missing the penalty was just one of the many opportunities that Ghana (and Gyan) missed today. The part that hurts is, unlike Uruguay’s game of luck, Ghana created the opportunities on their own and still could not finish it in. 

Ghana sure looked like a team that had the potential to beat the Dutch. I can’t say this much about Uruguay though. Ghana also is a team that does carry the fortitude to win the finals considering they were as far as semi finals already (almost). Ghana winning the world cup 2010, the fantasy which was actually so close to reality that it hurts to see the way it got crushed. It hurts. Yes it does even though I do not know where exactly they are in the map of Africa. This is how beautiful football is! 


The vuvuzelas choked into silence. Only Uruguayans couldn’t share Ghana’s pain.
“I think I made the best save of the World Cup,” Suarez said later, unabashed.

There was sadness in his eyes but he looked remarkably composed.
“I’ve nothing to say, you know? It’s part of the game,” Gyan said

Of Suarez, Gyan added philosophically: “He’s the hero now in his country because the ball was going in and he held it with his hand and unfortunately I missed the penalty, and they’ve come back and they’ve won … But football is like that.”
Suarez showed no remorse. He was just happy to have stopped what would have been the sure winner for Ghana.

With a squad with an average age of just 24 years and nine months, Ghana will get other chances.
Not that that was any consolation.
“We were so close to making it,” defender John Pantsil said. “It was very, very painful.”

“I think it was instinctive,” Uruguay Coach Óscar Tabárez said. “The player instinctively stopped the ball and was booked with a red card appropriately. He was thrown out and he’ll miss the next match. What else do you want me to do?” 

If you still insist that no matter what he should always stick to the rules, then you’ve obviously never played a real football match in your life

Our heart rates go up just from watching that scene; how do you suppose Suarez felt at that moment?

Brazil lost to consistency

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , , — HarryCool @ 2:51 pm

Nothing much to crib about in the Brazil vs Holland game like it is in the one after. Except for the fact that Brazil played like anything but Brazilians and lost to a consistent Dutch. Why am I hung on to Consistency in this post? Because this was the first game I saw in this world cup where a team did not change its style of play with the changing score line.

Whether one goal down, level or one up, Dutch stuck to their boring lack luster, flat but effective football as compared to the missing Brazilian flow. Brazil on the other hand, just like any un-Brazilian team would do, seemed to be content with the 1 – 0 lead and rightfully got to pay for it.

This also incidentally is the first game in this world cup (the one after this one being the 2nd) where a team down by a goal came back to win the game. This little statistic in itself speaks of the not so exciting world cup. The only thing exciting about this world cup is the French, Italian and English elimination and of course the Vuvuzelas and Jabulani.

Except for the goal and one nice move, there was nothing Brazilian about the Brazil game today. Another un-Brazilian thing about Brazil today was once at level I thought now they will show the Dutch What Attack Is. I thought it would be fun now. Instead Brazil turned out to be cry babies. They did not come back onto Dutch as a true champion side would, they instead were whining and fighting and all that. That was sick to watch. After watching them for so long over the years this is the least you expect out of them. Yes, everyone knows Latin Americans do not take defeat well but one also won’t expect the Brazilians would buckle under pressure like this so soon. No Good Job Mr Dunga. No Good! They deserved to lose. That is it.

Italians coming back on to the Kiwis, Cameroon’s massive attack after a goal down against the Japanese and English blitzkrieg on Germans was so much more exciting than watching these Brazilian cry babies. So moving on to the more interesting observation of this game today albeit a personal one…

The first goal by Brazil reminded me of my days in school. This is a typical trick I and Pradeep used to do at kick-off. One of us will dash towards the opposing team’s D while the other one would kick the ball right through the middle into the front the moment game would kick off and you’d have a goal in the very opening second. We used to do it in strikingly similar fashion to the way Brazilians scored today. One pass and ne touch into goal – fox all. Even though it was scored in the middle of the game and not at kick off, the goal really made me nostalgic and actually proud (funny) that the idea we considered unique to us is actually a genuine international play! Ha ha , those were the good old days of football in school. No one used to like me and Pradeep being in the same team.

June 27, 2010

Yanks rub it in with last-minute goal

I was surprised by own feelings when USA won by scoring in the dying minutes against Algeria. A neutral viewer like me would in general not want americans to win irrespective of the side they are up against. While everyone in the world has their own reasons for not cheering for the Americans, I think broadly it is because of either or a combination of these two – american arrogance and/or jealousy. In my case, it is more of the later.

I come from a culturally richer and older civilization. Yet due to its own shortcomings the land I come from is nowhere near the prosperity and success of the americans. India being in dumps in spite of the fact that indians have as much potential if not more as the americans, makes me jealous of their success. While I look at all American actions with utmost criticism, I know fully well, had my country been as successful as the Americans, they’d have been just the same in their attitude and actions towards the rest of the world (eg fighting terrorism); and would have been worse if not the same on the arrogance index as the americans.

In spite of this clear admittance of jealousy towards the US, I still didn’t believe I would want so bad for them to lose. I think it was the fact that they pulled it off so dramatically that it just added to my feeling of loss just the way it would have had an opposite impact on an american. Well, my feeling of loss would not be as high in intensity (since I am not an Algerian) as the joy of an american with that last-minute goal, but similar concept.

The Yanks did fight till the end. Well, a Draw would have kicked them out just as much as a loss, so they didn’t have anything more to risk by going all out.

“This team embodies what the American spirit is about,” Donovan said. “We had a goal disallowed the other night. We had another good goal disallowed tonight (on an offsides call), but we just keep going, and I think that’s what people admire so much about America.”

See the way he goes on about the “american spirit” and all about how great America is and all that crap. We do that so much in India too. Indian culture, Indian diversity, India’s rich heritage, how great we are yada yada yada.

“We’re kind of like the cardiac kids at the moment,” Howard said. “That emotion, that passion is what American sports fans thrive on. Given the American sports psyche, this is probably going to be more amazing for them than if we played unbelievable and won 3-0.”

Again the same BS about “american psyche”. Which sports fan in the world will not find a dramatic end like this more amazing over a straight forward 3-0 win? It’s obviously more entertaining anywhere in the world and has nothing “american only” about it. The fact is that Howard is just looking inwards, absorbed in his own big well, unconscious of the fact that the feelings will apply to anyone anywhere in the world.


June 22, 2010

India should never qualify for the World Cup Football

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — HarryCool @ 7:13 am

… at least not in my lifetime.

India is a cricket playing nation and I love this game (and Football too). One sport is already enough for me to worry about not losing that I do not want football to add to that. I watch Cricket only when India plays. When India crashes out of any tournament, I no longer track it. Even if it is world cup cricket, the moment India is out, I am out. I feel cheated whenever India loses. I consider the failure of my team to win as my own failure. It affects me personally. I no longer watch any other match until the next big tournament.

Soccer, I truly love. I have nothing personal at stake. All I have is the Joy of watching a great competition. When I watch a game I am watching a game not a team. I enjoy every great move, every great goal and every great piece of defending. I enjoy the action. I was thrilled to see North Koreans give Brazilians a tough fight whereas most of the Brazilians would have been stressed about what was going on. The very next North Korean game, I loved it when Portugal stripped them of all the respect they earned in the game with Brazil. I loved how Mexico beat France and I hated the fact that I could not see Spain getting beaten by the Swiss.

I do not want to spoil this one full month of entertainment and excitement which I wait for 4 years by having India take part in it. I will get emotionally attached to the success of one team. The moment India gets out of contention, I will lose my interest. The desire to be the best of the 32 teams will overshadow my love for the sport which I played like crazy in my adolescence and youth; and which I think had such a huge role in making me whoever I am today.

I love this game and that is why I do not want the country I love to be playing it. If they do, the game will no longer be beautiful, it will become a rat race just the way it is for all the countries which are participating.

I can relate to the pain of all the football crazy French who can no longer enjoy this tournament because their beloved country got kicked out so soon. It has happened to me every 4 years since last 20 years. French may still watch the cup, I am sure many will, but it will not be anywhere near as much fun had France still been in contention.

Finally, I have this solid intuition that 2011 will not be painful. Mumbai as the destination for the final is like fate deciding it finally that this is going to be Tendulkar’s cup. For all that he’s given to Cricket, I think it is time the game now rewards him with its penultimate prize. I will be there to watch HIM lift the cup in Mumbai. Amen.


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