And Uruguay sneak though…
What a crazy day of quarter-final action that was. I watched both Brazil 1-2 Netherland and Ghana 1-1 Uruguay (Uru win 4-2 on penalties) in a nice wee pub (or “the only pub” as you could also call) in Simon’s Town, which is a sea-side village an hour south of Cape Town. Flew in from Joburg on Wednesday and headed down to the Cape of Good Hope area for 2 nights just to mix it up a little bit at the start of my final week here. Anyway while the pub may not have had any other proper football fans (typical white Afrikaans crowd not knowing the rules and wishing they were watching the Springboks), it was still quite a day.
Last night’s second quarter-final was the most entertaining and open knock-out game we’ve seen so far. I wish everyone would shut up about Luis Suarez’s handball in the 120th minute though, it’s how the system works. He made a choice to handle it and is punished by conceding a penalty and getting a red-card which results in him missing the semi-final. That’s how the rules works, anyone would have done it. Asamoah Gyan should really be the one who is villified as there was no need to take an extravagant blasted penalty like that. You can almost forgive someone for having a penalty saved, but there’s no excuse for not getting it on target (*cough* Chris Waddle, Roberto Baggio, Diana Ross *cough*). And for the record, I’ve NEVER missed a penalty at the world cup so do know what I’m talking about.
So it’s cheerio Ghana. I’m not sure whether it’s because Uruguay were one of my picks before the tournament started or because “Baghana Baghana” were terrible for huge parts of every game they’ve played but yeah I’m delighted to see them go through. I think if Uruguay can get their captain Diego Lugano back for the semi-final we could well see them in the world cup final. Which is ridiculous considering there’s only 6 or 7 teams who have made the final in the last 30 years. But it’s been quite a barmy tournament so far so anything could happen.
But of course to make the final they have to beat the Netherlands who managed to knock out the tournament’s favourites, Brazil. I have no problem with Holland but was absolutely gutted to see South Africa’s second most popular yellow team go out. I thought about it afterwards and realised it’s probably partly due to the fact I’ve loved watching them play under Dunga (I’m in the minority there I know), but also as I had a big rake of bets on them to win. Now they have to find a new manager to lead them into the 2014 finals. Which, because they’re taking place in Brazil, suggests there’ll be a little bit of pressure on whoever comes in… My money is on Leonardo. He left Milan after “difficulties” with Berlusconi and he is probably the logical choice. I’ll bet Luiz-Felipe Scolari wishes he hadn’t taken the Palmeiras job last month as surely he would have been the Brazilian’s FA’s first port of call.
Anyway, got into Cape Town CBD this morning and am heading off to Argentina V Germany later. After a bit of haggling and online negotiation, I got the ticket from an Italian guy who made me drive to his house to pick it up. I assumed I was going to be target of a hit but that wasn’t the case. Got it for something like €190, which isn’t too bad considering it has a face value of €160. Should be an absolute classic though, every game I’ve seen so far has had a very obvious favourite, but with this I have no idea what’s going to happen. My heart says Argentina but for some reason I can see Germany taking it. Hopefully both teams continue with the flair and spirit that’s brought them this far though.
A week ago I attempted to make some predictions. What a stupid idea. I only got five out of the eight last-16 games correct and my overall picks, Brazil, are now gone. D’oh. Anyway for the sake of sticking my neck out I think we’re see a Spain V Uruguay final… (13/2 – 4th most likely outcome right now according to the bookies….)
Also I realised the other day I’ll be in the middle of flying back to Ireland when the second semi-final is on. Not cool. Ah well.