Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Fever

There's a little world cup fever in the Koda household. Very little, since it's confined entirely to me. Mrs. Koda and the wee tribe of Koda kids really couldn't give two hoots.

Two funny tweets from Andy Borowitz yesterday which I felt were worthy of passing on...

England's goalkeeper told reporters he'd perform better next game, then dropped the microphone.

And this as a pick up line...

Baby, I'll stop blowing my vuvuzela if you'll blow this.

And on the subject of Vuvuzelas... Alyssa Milano, former member of my hot babe trifecta, tweeted this last week. It was actually a link to 31 things you need to know about the world cup, but the host site had certificate errors, and some of the things just weren't that funny. Actually most of them aren't, but here it is anyway... My thoughts in italics. The original is here

1 Vuvuzelas
Those big damn horns will blare everywhere: In the streets, stadiums and bathtubs, probably. Experts are already warning fans to expect hearing loss. Several groups, including Japan’s football association, have called for the stadium horn to be banned from games. FIFA has refused.

They're those things which make it sound like a massive swarm of bees is enveloping the stadium!

2 Local customs
South African tribal chiefs burned incense and slaughtered a cow outside Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium in order to appease spirits living there. "It is a unifying cow. We don’t want our spirits to be scared of all the different languages," said the ritual organizer.

I got to witness a ritual slaughter at a funeral once... It was very interesting!

3 Hooligans
They are already being stopped at the border, having travel visas revoked and being warned by the British government to be on their best behavior. Hooliganism has been relatively dormant on the international stage in recent years, but England’s high expectations could have blood boiling again.

4 Extremists
A radical group called the Afrikaner Resistance Movement has declared war on South Africa’s black community and warned foreigners not to attend the World Cup. That is not to mention the direct threats from Al-Qaeda, or the possibility of G20 protesters stopping in en route to Toronto.

Bloody Hell Guys!! Apartheid has been dead for almost 2 decades. Give it up already!!

5 The home crowd
No host nation has ever been eliminated in the first round, ever. Vitriolic fans carried 2002 co-host South Korea past heavily favoured Portugal, Italy and Spain en route to the semi-finals. The World Cup has been won by a team on home soil six times, so don’t discount a miracle run from 83rd-ranked South Africa.

6 Work? What work?
Workers of the world unite, in procrastination, during the World Cup. Productivity tends to drop as footie-mad staff stay home, or chew up office bandwidth by watching games online. The effect will be big in Britain, where half of polled employees admit they will be watching games daily, but also throughout Europe and North America.

7 Tricky North Korea
In an attempt to sneak an extra striker onto their 23-man roster, North Korea listed Kim Myong-Won as their third goaltender. They claimed it was an administrative error when FIFA noticed and ruled the speedy forward could only play in net during the tournament. The hermit state is holding practices under lock and key and refusing to meet with media; are there more tricks to come?

8 Tackling Tanaka
It was a tackle by Japanese defender Tulio Tanaka that fractured the arm of Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba during a friendly last week and dampened the African nation’s chances to surprise at the World Cup. Drogba is an icon in his native continent, so you can expect fans to voice their displeasure with Tanaka. Is it a coincidence that Brazil, where Tanaka was born and his family still lives, is grouped with Ivory Coast in the first round? Yes, it is.

9 Naked in the streets
FIFA protocol deems it improper for a player to remove his shirt while celebrating a goal, but that doesn’t mean the tournament will be void of precocious nudity. Argentine coach Diego Maradona has promised to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aries if his team wins the World Cup. The odds of that happening? 13-2, according to British bookmaker William Hill.

I'll refer to this one again later...

10 Dark horses
Pick one: Greece, Algeria, New Zealand or Honduras. So little is expected from them, and a small handful of others, that one will inevitably exceed expectations. A spectacular draw, an upset win or a second-round showing; at least one also-ran will go home as heroes.

11 Hot on the spot
Germany has had a glut of good fortune in games decided by penalties. In 2006, they broke a draw with Argentina in the quarters by making four straight penalty kicks. Not only have they never lost a World Cup shootout, they have only missed once (in 1982) in 17 shots.

12 Not on the spot
In 2006, England battled Portugal to a 0-0 quarter-final draw before losing 3-1 on penalties. They shouldn’t have been shocked. England has now appeared in three World Cup shootouts and dropped them all. Frank Lampard, who had his shot blocked in 2006, has vowed to break the curse.

13 The art of the dive
More than a few players - more than a few times a match - will drop to the pitch in apparent life-altering pain in a shameful attempt to lure a penalty or retain ball possession. Crowds will boo and opponents will act aghast. Until they themselves get a chance to dive, that is. It is the one thing soccer neophytes know to expect.

My personal favorite! Gotta love the dramatic flare these athletes discover out on the field.

14 The name game
Like Canada, South Africa calls the beautiful game soccer. They have their own version of football: rugby (partially explaining why the CFL has never caught on there). So chances are a fight will break out when a European fan belittles a group of South Afrikaners for this, only to be told to stuff it.

15 House of cards
A total of 373 cards - 345 yellow and 28 red - were doled out during the 2006 World Cup in Germany; a record high. Will referees rein calls in this year? That’s uncertain, although FIFA’s medical staff has given orders to clamp down on hard, potentially career-ending tackles. There were 12 serious facial injuries in 2002, and only two in Germany four years ago.

16 Miracle on Grass
In 1950, an upstart American squad made up of semi-pros pulled off a startling 1-0 upset over a dominant England. The Brits barely believed it, while America barely noticed. Expect much to be made of this game, named the Miracle on Grass, when the two teams meet again on June 12.

17 Canadian content
The most Canadian thing about these World Cups could be Steve Nash. The NBA’s two-time MVP will be reporting and shooting video for Nash was born in Johannesburg and raised in Victoria, B.C. and grew up a serious soccer fan. He is part owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who will join Major League Soccer in 2011, and his brother Martin is a former member of Canada’s national team.

Holy Cow! Steve Nash and I are like brothers!

18 The overdressed
The English WAGS will stick out in South Africa like the Sex and the City girls would in, well, South Africa. WAG Watch became a distracting pastime during the 2006 World Cup. England coach Fabio Capello rescinded his no-WAG policy ahead of this year’s World Cup, opening the door for Victoria Beckham and company to tart up the soccer stadiums.

Turns out that WAG refers to Wives and Girlfriends

19 The underdressed
A wonderful tradition with origins in the country’s Carnival festival, scantily clad women swaying to the Samba beat follow Brazil’s football team wherever it goes. Expect women dressed in glitter, boas and feathers. And considering the Samba Boys status as one of the favourites, expect to see plenty of them.

Alight, so if we combine 9, 18 and this one... Rather than the Brazillian coach... I personally would not mind seeing the Wags and the Samba dancers, running naked through the streets.

20 The Jabulani debate
Players have been panning the Adidas Jabulani ball, crafted for this World Cup, for its uncertain trajectory when kicked. Adidas has defended the technology, which it says will settle down at South Africa’s altitude. It is feared the ball will lead to a number of freak goals, which would inevitably lead to debate about Jabulani’s quality.

Jabulani is a Zulu name denoting happiness... Makes me smile!

21 Madiba magic
Nelson Mandela seems to have a mystical ability to will South African teams to victory. In 1995, just one year after becoming president, he attended the Rugby World Cup. South Africa beat favourite New Zealand in a win that has been credited for uniting the nation. The following year, he appeared in a South Africa soccer jersey when his team won the African Cup of Nations.

22 The new math
Swiss mathematician Roger Kaufmann has crunched the data - including current world ranking, average number of goals and team’s opponents - to determine Brazil and Spain should meet in the final. According to Kaufmann, the Brazilians (ranked No. 1 in the world) have a 15.4% chance to win the World Cup; the Spaniards (ranked No. 2) have a 15.2% chance. An equation that favours the tournament co-favourites: Who says math doesn’t work?

23 The Arrogant One
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the football world’s highest paid star known for his on-field dramatics, is either loved or hated for his arrogance. Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo’s former manager, has defended his attitude. "All the great players," he once said, "have a touch of what you call 'nice arrogance' a belief in themselves." Ronaldo certainly has that. After not scoring for Portugal during World Cup qualifying, he said he was saving his goals for when they count.

24 Blues for Les Bleus
France has had little to cheer about recently, with many observers marking them as ripe for an early upset. They lost to China in their final warmup for the tournament, and midfielder Florent Malouda said his team would be "embarrassing" at the World Cup. This all comes after the French needed an uncalled handball from Thierry Henry to advance to South Africa.

25 The Golden Boot
Spain’s David Villa, who 37 goals in 56 games with his national teams, is the near-unanimous pick to score the most goals at the World Cup. William Hill has him at 8-1, Ladbrokes at 9-1. Argentina’s Lionel Messi, is the second choice of both bookmakers. Brazil’s Luis Fabiano is backing either Villa or England’s Wayne Rooney. But the Brazilian might have thrown his own name in there. Both books have him at 12-1.

26 Ache and heartache
An all-star team of talent has been sidelined by injuries, leaving many teams awkwardly filling roster spots. Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba may play, but Germany’s captain Michael Ballack will not. Nor will David Beckham or defender Rio Ferdinand. The New York Times’ Jeffrey Marcus blames the long and gruelling English Premier League schedule.

27 Girls! Girls! Girls!
South African brothels are reportedly increasing their cover charges - and roster numbers - in anticipation of a rush of business. Past host countries have anticipated an increased prevalence of prostitution during the event, although the surge in 2006 was not as high as Germany expected. World Cup organizers say up to 40,000 prostitutes were recruited ahead of the games, while health groups are warning visitors about the high level of Aids and HIV in the country.

There is a dark side to this final one as well... In addition to prostitution, there also appears to be a significant problem with human trafficking in South Africa (As with the rest of the world) and this has increased with the world cup as well. More here...

And as far as I'm concerned... It's soccer and having lived in the US as long as I have... favourite just looks wrong with the extra u.

No comments:

Post a Comment