The Irony of the Crossbar

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup ending today in South Africa, you’ve got to give it to the exponents of vuvuzela blowing because they pulled it off in spite of the heavy uncertainty that clouded preparations and at several points threatened to take a first ever World Cup from football-passionate Africans.

Focus though is on two matches – Ghana 1 (2) – (4) 1 Uruguay and Germany 3 – 2 Uruguay – in the latter stages of the competition. Now Luis Suarez (a terrific player; my opinion) did well for his country to twice block goal-bound efforts in the final minute of extra-time against Ghana; the second block earning him a well-cheered red card as he deliberately handled the ball, only to watch his agony become ecstasy as Asamoah Gyan’s penalty crashed off the crossbar with the last kick of that match…Ghana lost and were left to ponder; “had Luis not interfered, we’d be the first African team in the World Cup semi-final” or something in that line.

Without bias, I feel Suarez acted upon the moment and took his chances for his country…chances that paid off eventually and though Africa may hate him unequivocally for life, he’ll be a dressing room hero (at least) and most probably be a national hero back home; not many teams get to the World Cup semis (four for starters; once in four years).

That said, Uruguay had the opportunity to take the third place play-off against Germany to extra-time with a Diego Forlan free-kick following a foul on…your guess is right, Luis Suarez. The free-kick came deep in injury time and no one needed to tell the players it would be the last kick of the match, imagine that pressure on Forlan; who by the way had scored a real contender for goal of the tournament to put his team 2-1 up early in the second half.

The Atletico Madrid forward stepped up for the free kick; with optimum concentration and when he played it, you just knew he’d applied the right execution – enough power to scare the wall, enough speed to ruffle the keeper, just about the right height to carry the ball into the net…just about, not the exact right height for the ball cannoned off the crossbar, much to Forlan’s and Uruguay’s agony, no more so Luis Suarez.

But applause to both sides for an enthralling match, excellent advertisement for the World Cup. Besides, another lesson that I take from this match as well as Suarez’s act against Ghana is, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” (sic).

Perhaps if four players of the Super Eagles of Nigeria had half the passion, the story would be different but que sera sera.

Onto the showpiece event, Netherlands vs. Spain…who do you reckon will win? Paul, the now famous Octopus that has got all predictions of World Cup matches thrown at it (including Germany’s losses against Serbia and Spain) has now predicted that it will be la Roja lifting the Cup at the expense of their Oranje hombre. I hope the 8-tentacle spectacle is wrong this time though, I’m rooting for the Dutch!

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  1. World Wide News Flash

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