Mandela still deciding on whether to go to final; Fifa to investigate Jabulani, AFTER the tournament; Uruguay first team to advance to quarter finals; Black Stars shine brightly for Africa; Internet man of the match scam.
The local organising committee said at a press conference on Saturday that it was uncertain as to whether Nelson Mandela would attend the World Cup final. LOC chief Danny Jordaan said: “It’s a decision he will make when he makes it. The only thing we have to do is wait.” So no, Jordaan and his committee didn’t tell us anything that we didn’t know already. And there aren’t many situations where we’d report on the fact that we’re waiting for a 92-year-old to make a decision. But it is Mandela, so we thought you should know.
The Jabulani ball has been the bane of goalkeepers and strikers alike this tournament, with players complaining about its unpredictability and “supermarket” quality. With the potential for matches to be decided on penalties from this round onwards, the issue of the unreliable ball has become even more important, and Fifa have finally spoken out about it. Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke said on Saturday that the soccer body would meet with players, coaches and manufacturer Adidas after the World Cup to discuss the ball. Well, that’s nice to know, but it’s not particularly helpful to the players who are complaining now. That said, all the participating teams approved the ball in February, according to Fifa. Looks like they should’ve voiced their concerns earlier.
In the first round of 16 match Uruguay beat South Korea 2-1 to advance to the quarter finals. A goal in either half by Luis Suarez secured the win for the Uruguayans. South Korea had a sniff of hope when Ki Sung-Yueng equalised from a free kick in the 68th minute, but Uruguay retook the lead just 12 minutes later. South Korea can take some small consolation from the fact that they are the first team to score against Uruguay this tournament, but it probably won’t cheer them up much. The South Korean players appeared devastated at their loss, with defender Cha Du-ri breaking down in tears before he left the pitch.
So, it’s official: the US won’t make the World Cup final, and President Barack Obama won’t be making the trip to South Africa to watch them. On the plus side – and it’s a huge plus – Ghana are through to their first quarter final ever. The only African team to make it through the group stages needed extra time to beat the US, after the teams were tied at 1-1 a the end of 90 minutes. But Asamoah Gyan struck in the third minute of extra time to seal the victory for the Ghanaians. The Black Stars will meet Uruguay in their quarter final – we hope they fare better against the South Americans than Bafana did.
Man of the match is never that important an accolade in team sport – there’s little joy to be had from an outstanding individual performance if you end up on the losing side. But the award has lost all meaning this World Cup, as man of the match is chosen by internet voters, who seem to focus more on popularity than performance. Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo, for example, has been named man of the match in all three games in which he’s played. Even Ronaldo, not known for his modesty, has admitted that he’s been lucky. After Portugal’s second match against North Korea, he presented his trophy to team mate Tiago, as he felt he deserved it more. It’s easy to be generous when you’ve just thrashed your opponents 7-0, but Ronaldo hung onto his award after Portugal’s 0-0 draw with Brazil.
16:00 England vs Germany, Bloemfontein
20:30 Argentina vs Mexico, Johannesburg (Soccer City)
By Theresa Mallinson
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama watches a live telecast of the 2010 World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Ghana during a short break between bilateral meetings with South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak and China’s President Hu Jintao at the G20 Summit in Toronto June 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed