“How are the mighty fallen! tell it not in Gath, Publish it not in Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice …”.
And it goes on and on, David’s lament when he heard that Saul had died. As the well fancied Argentines lost the quarter final game to Germany, I could indeed hear their Brazillian rivals dancing and rejoicing through the streets of Rio. But they didn’t know then that they only had two more days before their team would be off home too.
And as one great team after another found the German heat and their opponent’s skills too overwhelming, Zidane’s reign kept stretching for one more game. But we’ll talk about him later. How did I feel, when each of my predictions proved wrong?
Argentina: I’ve never been a great fan of Argentina, maybe because I like Brazil. I always thought that though they’re skillful, they are one of the more physical teams. But after that goal! Admittedly it was the last of six. Any team that had scored that many should be feeling quite confident, should be able to string a few passes together. But it was still a goal to be talked about. Like all the commentators, I started to fancy Argentina. But I suppose I knew they’d have a tough game against Germany, so I wasn’t too surprised that they lost.
Brazil: They didn’t play well, but every tournament, commentators say the same thing … ‘This Brazillian team isn’t good enough to win the world cup’. And every time, they’re proved wrong. So, I wasn’t too worried. I kept thinking they’d wake up, and to be honest, they did against the French, who didn’t seem destined to go far either. But the French always rise to the occasion against Brazil. They’d beaten Brazil in two of the previous five world cups, and this year, against Brazil, they played their best game of the tournament.
England: I suppose if you’ve been knocked out of three world cups in the quarter final stage, there’s a kind of consistency to your performance. It means nothing more than that England’s a top 8 team, despite their aspirations. Something has to change if they’re to move forward.
Portugal: They must have surpassed even their expectations … but they had a coach from Brazil!
Germany: Our hosts did very well this time, but of course in 1990, they’d taken the cup in Italy and consigned the hosts to a bronze medal position. Time for a reversal.
Generally, there were some great games. Of course, it could never have been as good as 1994. Then I could boast to my English friends, because their team didn’t make it and Nigeria actually did well. We even led for most of the game against the Italians. If I’d held my breath for any longer during that game, I wouldn’t be here writing this. Never mind, all my hopes are now in South Africa.
But for now, all teams are back home. I suppose it’s good that the Italians won the cup. It’ll be some consolation for the players as they face the next several days of investigations.
I never gave the Italians much of a chance in the tournament, and they got to the finals. I thought the French would win, … and then they scored. I was in a car, heading back to Lancaster from the other end of England. Good thing I wasn’t driving. I’m sure I’d have taken my hands off the steering wheel when France scored.
But the Italians equalised. I don’t think Zidane played as well as he played against Brazil. Just once or twice, the radio commentator would say ‘excellent pass from Zidane’, or ‘lovely flick from Zidane’. Against Brazil, commentators only said that when he’d made a minor contribution. The rest of the time Zidane would have the ball and the commentator would almost be rendered speechless by the skill of his drag backs, step overs and dazzling moves.
But … How are the mighty fallen! I’d still like to know what caused him to do what he did. Maybe he too would like to know. But we’d all built him up. I think he built himself up too. And he’d seen that vision which caused him to get out of retirement for this last time. It could all have ended so well … but then again, How are the mighty fallen?
I’m going back to my life again. The holiday is over, I’ll be writing about usual things like waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, taking a stroll, etc. It’ll be another four years before I’m stirred up to great prosaic sentences. I know that by then, technology would have moved on. Maybe I’d only have to think up a sentence and it’d be on screen. But if God tarries, I hope I’d still be as interested in the beautiful game as I am now, and I hope Nigeria would do the decent thing and make its football hungry citizens proud again.