The Jabulani ball, we all knew, was going to be in the spotlight, and it did do some rather strange dippy-do stuff at times, but nothing too outrageous when you factor in the altitude some of the games are being played at.
The U.S. got the draw it knew it was well capable of achieving against hot group favorites England, albeit due to a howler by keeper Robert Green. Poor Bob was, of course, savaged by the English media (“The Hand of Clod” etc), although he did have a decent second half, and he reacted admirably in the way he faced the music after the game. Nor did he blame the ball.
Now the focus turns very much to Friday morning’s crunch clash against Slovenia, which secured three points against Algeria thanks in the main to another goalkeeping error, arguably worse than Green’s blooper.
This time, Bob Bradley’s men will go in as the favored team, and will have to play a more attacking game. That will probably also require a change or two in personnel (Jose Torres/Edu for Clark and Buddle for Findley in from start maybe?).
While a tie wouldn’t be the end of the world, defeat would be, so patience and caution will be the order of the day.
The one certainty about Friday’s game is that you’ll be deafened, once again, by vuvuzelas, those noisy ear splitting plastic horns which sound akin to an enormous swarm of bees.
This World Cup is set to become the most cacophonous in history thanks to one note instrument, but if you watched last year’s Confederations Cup, you can’t say you didn’t receive timely warning to get yourself a pair of earplugs (There’s always the mute button too.)
Not surprisingly, there have been calls by various football associations, players and broadcasting companies to have them banned.
As long as they are not used as weapons, or blown during national anthems, world governing body FIFA said it’s happy to have them at the World Cup. However, they did plead with fans to maybe try singing.
Refereeing was top notch, and close decisions were called right time after time. The one most in the news was Mexico’s first half effort which was disallowed against South Africa.
ESPN commentator (Efan Ekoku, former pro player) was lambasted after the game for his take on it (“What an awful decision”) and his seeming ignorance of the offside rule (two opposing players behind the ball, usually including the goalie – – the goalie was not behind the ball, which is rare).
However, the crime was not that the former Nigerian international got it wrong initially, but that neither he nor his experienced co-commentator, Martin Tyler, made any attempt to correct it thereafter despite the luxury of replays, thus missing a great opportunity to explain the law to those who maybe aren’t too au fait with the game.
The station’s decision to use a whole pile of British-based pundits for their “experience” was, right then, looking a tad foolish.
Maybe those vuvuzelas aren’t such a bad idea after all!