Fifa surrenders case of the orange mini-dresses; Bafana lose match, win hearts and minds; Uruguay and Mexico qualify for second round; Argentina and South Korea advance; Domenech loses any friends he had left and alienates even more people; New Zealand’s amateurs put professionals to the test.
Fifa has withdrawn the ambush-marketing charges against the two Dutch women who wore orange mini-dresses (sporting Bavaria logos almost too tiny for the naked eye to see) to last week’s Netherlands vs Denmark game. “All parties have agreed to drop any claims and also not to make any further comments related to this matter,” Fifa and Bavaria said in a joint statement. One moral of the story is that bullying tactics are never a good idea. If Fifa hadn’t arrested the women in the first place, there wouldn’t have been an outcry, and soccer’s governing body wouldn’t have handed Bavaria the very publicity and free marketing it was trying to limit. Still, Bavaria has agreed to “respect the integrity of Fifa’s commercial programme until the end of the year 2022”. Yeah, right, like that’ll happen.
Almost the whole world, including most French people, was cheering for Bafana Bafana on Tuesday afternoon as they took on France in Bloemfontein. Bafana played the way we always knew they could, and trounced France by a 2-1 margin that could easily have been more if the French keeper hadn’t played his heart out. In the first half of the match, Lloris was the only Frenchman on the pitch who looked as if he cared, with the rest of the team emanating defeat from every pore after Khumalo’s 20th-minute goal and Gourcuff’s harsh red card. It took the entrance of Thierry “Handball” Henry (and again, he lived up to his nickname) in the second half for the French to show any spirit, and even then Bafana’s victory never looked in doubt. In fact, at times that elusive place in the second round started to seem like a real possibility… The pesky matter of goal difference meant the boys ultimately lost out on advancing through, but they won back South African hearts with their valiant performance. Viva Bafana, viva!
In the other Group A match that no one in the country watched from start to end, but everyone compulsively flicked to, Uruguay did almost everything South Africa needed them to do against Mexico, apart from score a few more goals to propel us through to the second round on goal difference. Still, it’s not all about South Africa, and the 1-0 score line was enough of a margin for Uruguay to feel secure in holding on to their spot at the top of the group. Mexico advances to the second round as well, which should make a certain Carlos Ortega happy. He’ll be less than thrilled that his team will be playing Argentina though.
Lionel Messi marked his first game as captain with a 2-0 win for Argentina over Greece. The Argentineans confidently topped Group B, raking in maximum points, while the Greeks’ dream of advancing to the second round was ended. The other match in the group – Nigeria vs South Korea – was a more closely contested one, with both teams desperately needing a win to keep their tournament dreams alive. Nigeria initially took the lead, but were ultimately unable to keep the South Koreans at bay, or make the most of their own chances. The 2-2 draw means the Asian team will go through to the next round, with Nigeria becoming the third African team out of the World Cup.
Raymond Domenech has shown that he can be just as rude as Nicolas Anelka, not to mention downright petty. The French coach refused to shake hands with his South African counterpart Carlos Alberto Parreira after their game, reportedly because Parreira had criticised France’s qualification for the World Cup. Sometimes the truth hurts, but that’s no reason to behave like a sulky teenager. Now that France’s ghastly tournament has finally come to an end, it can’t be that long before the various factions in the team start bringing out books explaining their side of the story. We suggest that Domenech commission Toby Litt to ghost-write his memoirs. We even have a title already: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People – the Soccer Edition.
There’s no question that the World Cup is a serious business. But the Kiwis are still managing to have fun during their campaign. New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert admitted on Tuesday that he had fielded an amateur against champions Italy, just to show it could be done. Andy Barron, who works in a bank, came on in the final minutes of his country’s surprise 1-1 draw against the Azzurri on Sunday. Italy boasts 3,541 professional footballers, while the Kiwis have only 25; Italy’s starting line-up on Sunday was worth $255.4 million, while New Zealand’s was just $15.8 million. But in this World Cup, the Kiwis have shown that attitude trumps statistics. The tournament’s favourite underdogs still have an outside chance of qualifying, but if they don’t make it, at least some of the team can fall back on their day jobs.
16:00 Slovenia vs England, Port Elizabeth
16:00 USA vs Algeria, Pretoria
20:30 Ghana vs Germany, Johannesburg (Soccer City)
20:30 Serbia vs Australia, Nelspruit
By Theresa Mallinson
Photo: South Korean soccer fans celebrate their team’s advancement to the second round after watching a live TV broadcast of their 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Nigeria in Durban, at the Seoul City Hall Plaza June 23, 2010. South Korea drew 2-2 in a tense match with Nigeria to advance to the second round of the World Cup on Tuesday. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak