The soccer fan in me
Somehow the game of football baffles me with its club nature. As I have watched cricket as a nation’s sport its difficult identify football and I love that game only in 4 years time. And now the time beckons.
Turn back the clock by 12 years. 1998. I am a harmless kid watching only cricket most of the time discussing about that only. Suddenly one fine day all the news channels screaming France won the world cup football in their home soil defeating Brazil 3 – 0. And Zidane scored 2 goals through header is the headlines of most of the newspaper. But that didn’t excited me and I continued to be the normal cricket fanatic.
Now move forward to 4 years. 2002. Now I came to know about few names in football and most prominent among them is Maradona and his goal of the century. But alas!!! He is retired. I have read about Zidane also. And also read few of the pre-tournament articles in the Tamil newspaper Dinamani. As I liked Maradona and Zidane my favorites were Argentina and France. More than France, I am more connected with Argentina when it comes to football. I betted on both of them and they are among the pre-tournament favorites. As I studied 12th then I was not allowed to watch any match… sob. But both the teams were out of tournament in the first round itself… Sob sob… But I have cut down all the pictures related to that world cup and wanted to make an album. But I never made it and all those pictures went to dust bin… sob sob sob… And in the finals I wanted Germany to win but Brazil won it… Sob sob sob sob… If somebody from Brazil scores a goal I wished it has to be Rivaldo… but both the goals were scored by Ronaldo… sob sob sob sob sob… I wanted Oliver Kahn to pose with the world cup but was down with tears at his own goal post… sob sob sob sob sob sob. Now the 2002 world cup was absolute misery for me and my teams.
But one thing I have to admit was my admiration for the beautiful football played by Brazil. They are just unstoppable. I have watched the finals and there was a distinct difference between the two teams. German players attack were from the flanks and their crosses were not perfect. But the Brazilian forwards were intimidating and they ran towards German goal like the school children running after leaving the school. Ronaldo was absolute killer.
Now again move forward by 4 years. 2006. This time I was not updated with any kind of knowledge about football. But the Hindu paper we bought in our home then started to dish out lot of pre-tournament articles about the individual players and I become addicted to it and I decided to watch 2006 WC. The best part is, I was in my annual vacation made the things real easy. I watched almost all the matches then. My college reopened on July 10th and the final was July 9th. What timing!!!! Again my favorite teams are Argentina and France. This time too Argentina was critics favorite but France wasn’t.I supported France for Zidane.
I wanted to see Lionel Messi in action. But in the first match he didn’t played. Argentina opened in a perfect fashion winning the match against Ivory coast 2 – 1. Second match against Serbia was full of action with my team pulling off a whopping 6 – 0 win. Among the six goals this one stands out as best. 25 touches before sending the ball into goal. Marvelous display of beautiful game.
They rounded off their campaign in group stages with a 0 – 0 draw against Netherlands to top the group. France’s group stage was not smooth. After 2 tame draws they managed to win the last group game to qualify for second round.
The team which really impressed me was Australia. They played a good physical game with less number of fouls. How they were able to shine in every sports??? something for us to think.
Argentina met Mexico in their second round and their goal scoring skills started to diminish as they played the ball only in midfield and not able to put it forward. I didn’t watched this match as I was in traveling, I managed to watch this wonder goal from Maxi Rodriguez which turned to be the best goal of the tournament.
France met much fancied Spain in their second round but Zidane and big match pressure proved too good for Spain. From this match onwards it is Zidane who orchestrated the France entry into finals.
Argentina met host nation Germany in the QF and I firmly believed that my team had the edge. But due to the heavy defensive tactics not many opportunities were created and match moved into Penalty shootout only to give a heartbreak to me. I felt there are lot of decisions went in favor of Germany. I cried that night. Period.
With Argentina gone, my hopes are rested on France. France continued their march with a 1 – 0 win over defending champions Brazil and one man stood out from the 22 players played on field. Its ZIDANE. He was all over Brazil produced a magical display of football which left the Samba boys gasping.
The semifinal against Portugal was not that great with Zidane scoring of a penalty stroke to clinch the match. I remember that match for the exchange of T-shirts between 2 greats of the game Zidane and Figo as a gesture of goodwill.
So all set for the final with Italy whose stout defending put them in finals. Not a team which was fascinating to watch but their football is an effective one. But with Zidane on form I believed France will pull it off. The opening goal scored by Zidane again through a penalty stroke. But Italy equalized it through Materazzi… I will forgive him for that but I can’t forgive for bad mouthing about Zidane’s family which led to the infamous headbutt incident. And with that France team lost their hopes of winning the match. His glittering career ended with red card.
And again I slept feeling very bad about the match.
NOW. This year I am just reading Football from every piece of paper and its the only thing I am reading now. And my support is for only Argentina this time. With Messi in team it has the potential to win the cup. But its all depends on the coach and ‘The football god’ Maradona who must control his heart so that his mind can work with the same efficiency as his days as player. Spain were favorites this time and I like their game but sadly favorites never win a world cup. Sob sob.
Anyway I am going to be super excited in the next 1 month and all please bear with my football related posts in this time period.