Wednesday, July 12, 2006


My only qualification to write about this 'idol' is that I have awlays enjoyed the charm and skills of this once retired player. It is difficult to tell what was going on in his head but facts that are emerging indicate that he was insulted. One can say that he lost the nerve to contain the insult. I recently 'attended' a soccer mental training camp that my son's provincial Team arranged. I must say that it was one of the best. I learnt that soccer games are not only won by skill. Intimidation via insults, gestures and the like are part of the package that players with blessings of their coaches unleash on their opponents. Claiming innocence from match officials even when the offence is blatant is another tactic that is used without shame. These tactics are encouraged because of the big money involved in soccer and any sport for that matter. Materrazi, the Italian defence man who is alleged to have insulted ZZ was probably implementing what the coaches had put in his tool kit. It should be noted that this player (Materrazi) is quite a character too. He spat on a player during the European Champinoships and was sent off.

ZZ has issued an apology and by all means, soccer loving people should accept his apology. It was uncalled for, with only 10 minutes to go and millioms of people watching. The racial and terrorist overtones that have been linked to the incident suggests that even a man of steel can break. The zero tolerance to racism that was promoted at the start of the tournament is now moribund and the true colours of how racist soccer is in Europe are emerging. Remarks by an Italian politician/senator that France sacrificed the world cup by featuring an all black team is surely a case in point on how intorlerant Europe is to black players.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I love soccer. It is indeed the world sport. I am looking forward to watching the final game on July 9. There have been dissapointments and moments of joy.

A lot can be written on the positive side. There are no more underdogs in world soccer. There was quality soccer no matter where the team came from (in the past, third world countries other than those from Latin America) generally fared poorly. Angola, Togo and Ghana for example put up excellent performances that shocked the traditional power houses. I hope that these teams will keep up the momentum (this is perhaps wishful thinking for teams from Africa where inconsistency is the norm). The quality of officiating has improved with most of the actors being tossed out or caustioned whenever offences fitting such punishment were committed.I was also impressed with the performance of unsung heroes on the pitch. Credit uusually goes to goal scorers in a soccer math but this world cup showed that the match can be won by defenders. Teams with soolid defences included Italy, Germany and France. Defendes like Cannavaro of Italy and Thuran of France were second to none. These defenders turned adventurous goal seekers into spectators. It was great to see that no one player as far as I could tell stood out as the star of the tournament. There is a lot of team work at play these days.

Dissapointments included the early exit of soccer power houses such as the south American countries including Brazil. I was equally dissapointed that the flair of these teams that has always been their signature appears to have evaporated. One soccer analyst suggested that this has to do with the fact that most of the south Ameican stars now play in Europe where the style is about being physical and racing with the ball. Deciding the winner by penalty shoot out has always been controversial. Good teams often exit the competition, robbing spectators a chance to see what they have to offer. Tough luck England! The golden goal rule, though not perfect encouraged players to work hard towards scoring that golden goal. It is no longer the case.Itwould appear that some teams chose not to play attacking football so that they could take the game into penalty shhot outs.