The World Cup in Review

As the World Cup shrinks into the rear view mirror for another four years, Nouse’s sports writers choose their favourite players, moments, games and goals from the South African party

Shine 2010 via Flickr Creative Commons

Shine 2010 via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s hard to believe it’s all over. It seems not five minutes ago that this World Cup was kicking off, but already we’re here in that awkward post-tournament stage. No longer can you watch a double-header of football in the day-time, instead it’s Homes under the Hammer. No longer can pub conversations be dominated by the day’s on-goings, you actually have to make real conversation and no longer can you engage in highly charged patriotism without appearing slightly racist. The eyes of football fans across the country are already focused on the first day of the season and, while that may be fun, it seemed an appropriate time for us at Nouse to reflect on the 2010 World Cup. You might disagree, in fact you probably will, so by all means contribute your own views below.

ADAM SHERGOLD – SPORTS EDITOR (2008-2010)

Player of the Tournament

Diego Forlan – In anticipation of my colleagues dissecting the talent-laden and victorious Spanish XI, I’m going with a player who was never part of an outstanding team unit but whose five goals carried his nation to an improbable last four finish. Forlan was much maligned at Manchester United, where he never adapted to the pace and physicality of the English Premier League, but, at 31, he has blossomed into a striker capable of some quite stunning finishing and seems to be enjoying his football like never before. His free-kick equaliser against Ghana in the quarter-final, where he demonstrated an unrivalled command of the capricious Jabulani ball, is a personal favourite.

Best Goal

Siphiwe Tshabalala for South Africa vs. Mexico – The moment an entire nation awoke from interminable anticipation to the glorious reality that the greatest show on Earth was in town. Tshabalala’s terrific left-footed roof-of-the-net finish, following intricate build-up, was much more than just than the opening goal of the tournament. It was the realisation of a dream – the dream of a nation and a continent often fractured, but suddenly united. In addition, the joyous aftermath included the tournament’s best choreographed celebration. He also has the best name since Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala.

Favourite Match

Germany 4 Argentina 0 – An emphatic result and masterly performance which marked the cessation of one age of football and the beginning of another. Diego Maradona’s Argentina were brutally exposed by a German side that will undoubtedly wrest with Spain to be Europe and the world’s pre-eminent side through the next five years. With an average age under 25, Joachim Löw’s bright young kinder, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and Mesut Özil, are most definitely an atypical German side, but all the more intriguing for it. This showing announced their arrival as genuine World Cup contenders, years ahead of schedule, and wrecked the dreams of Maradona, Messi and co.

Best Moment

Andres Iniesta’s goal for Spain in the final – A winning moment which meant so much to so many, but also to the game. Iniesta’s 116th-minute strike, technically perfect, extinguished the possibility that the very un-Dutch brand of thuggish football would prevail and the world rejoiced. Effective it might have been in stalling the Spanish passing carousel, but it was disappointing to see a nation steeped in such a rich heritage of playing the game beautifully resort to such anti-football tactics. Thank goodness Iniesta, one of the stars of the tournament, intervened to provide justice.

LEIGH CLARKE – SPORTS EDITOR (2009-2010)

Player of the tournament

Carles Puyol – Here’s a statistic for you: in the knock-out stages of both Euro 2008 and this World Cup, Spain have not conceded a goal. There’s a danger that in years to come that we’ll remember only the attacking fluency of this great side and forget how their incredible defence essentially won them two consecutive tournaments. Despite being a rock throughout, and Spain’s outfield leader, I’ve not seen Puyol on many ‘Teams of the Tournament’ and he wasn’t even nominated for the Golden Ball. Yet he deserves recognition for a fantastic few weeks; he may not have had a great final but his performance against Germany, which he capped with a superb match-winning goal, was nothing short of outstanding.

Best Goal

Miroslav Klose vs. Argentina – Was this the perfect counter-attack? Germany humiliated Argentina in more ways than one, as their inch-perfect move exposed the Argentinian defence as clueless whilst making the scoreline embarrassing. At times Germany played the most exciting football in this competition and this was surely the pinnacle of the young team’s achievements.

Favourite Match

Slovakia vs. Italy – There were serious doubts over Italy’s following their first two performances, but no one expected this. It was a match that had it all: wonder-goals, huge tension and, at the finish, an early exit for the World Cup holders. In a tentative group stage, this was a real highlight.

Best moment

Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty – Actually an awful moment, but one that summed up the excitement of a World Cup perfectly. Ghana, vying to be the first African nation ever to make the semi-finals, are awarded a penalty in the final minute of extra-time after Luis Suarez handles on the line. Up steps Asamoah Gyan, the cool and collected expert penalty taker, for one of the most important kicks in football history. The whole of Africa, perhaps the whole of the non-Uruguay world, wants him to score but, almost inevitably, he misses, his effort hitting the bar. Ghana then go on to lose the subsequent shoot-out. Heartbreaking, but a moment that really shows the incredible drama of a major tournament.

HENRY COWEN – ACTING SPORTS EDITOR

Player of the Tournament

Thomas Mueller – I put my hands up, I hadn’t heard of him before the tournament, but the young German has starred in South Africa. Before this tournament Mueller had played three times for his country; he has now played eight times, scoring on five occasions, and has won the Golden Boot in his debut tournament. He’s energetic, lively and proved a constant thorn in the side to every team he came up against, not least England against whom he scored twice. Ryan Nelsen of New Zealand also deserves special mention; for the All Whites to go through the tournament undefeated is a superb achievement and it is down in no small part to the Kiwi skipper.

Best Goal

Tricky question. Tevez’s against Mexico was fantastic, as was van Bronckhorst’s against Uruguay but for me it has to be Maicon’s goal against North Korea. Did he mean it? Who cares. A special goal that finally broke the minnows’ resistance and one that could only have been scored by a Brazilian.

Favourite Match

I became something of a New Zealand fan during this tournament; partly because they were plucky underdogs but mainly because in their side was the only Ipswich Town player. As a devoted Tractor Boy I followed Ricky Herbert’s men because on the left of their back three was our very own Tommy Smith. He had a good tournament, his team had an even better one and their highlight was my favourite game of the competition. Playing against the world champions can never be easy, especially when your side contains players that had previously been deemed not good enough for English non-league sides but Nelsen and his men fought heroically to earn a 1-1 draw against Marcello Lippi’s Italy. A superb performance and one that typified the general theme of underdogs throughout this World Cup.

Best Moment

There’s two here, both of them betting related which, I think, tells a story. Number 1. Put five pounds on for my older brother that Siphiwe Tshabalala would score the first goal of the tournament. Hello £50. My brother puts it on black at a nearby casino, hello £100 and I didn’t have to pay for anything else that day. Number 2. A tale of oh so close. Put five pounds on Matt Upson to score against Germany, and score he did! Unfortunately the lovely lady at the betting shop mistakenly processed it as Matt Upson to score first…valuable drinking money cruelly taken from me on a day that was already forgettable.

JAKE FARRELL – ACTING SPORTS EDITOR

Player of the Tournament

Xavi Hernandez – The Machine is a nickname that you would envisage being attached to some nutter defender that plays for Rochdale. Instead it is the moniker used to describe Xavi, the central midfield machine that literally passes teams into submission. The Barca Captain made 669 passes in the tournament with a completion rate of 81%. That is a higher total of passes and a higher completion rate that Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Kaka combined. He also played all 636 minutes of Spain’s campaign running 80.2km in the process. The best player in the world, let alone the tournament.

Best Goal

Carlos Tevez vs Mexico – Argentina had a bit of luck against Mexico who proved a good side over the course of the tournament. There was nothing lucky about the Tevez strike that ultimately beat them and the look of pudgy joy that spread across his features after he almost broke the net was pure Maradona. Genius.

Favourite Match

England vs Germany – Only a humiliation on the scale of a 4-1 second round World Cup defeat to Germany could induce the root and branch re-structuring of English football that we need, and that is why it is my favourite match. It won’t lead to anything of the kind of course but it should – now is the time to let the individuals that have comprised our squad slip (in)gloriously into retirement and for a young squad to form an enthusiastic eleven before they are jaded by the Premiership. I want to see Joe Hart in Goal, Jack Wilshere in behind and Jack Rodwell as Captain for the next friendly.

Best Moment

The opening goal of the finals – I have been somewhat repulsed by the saccharine levels of white, middle class sympathy toward South Africa, and the continent in general, over the course of the tournament but Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico did feel like something special for the nation. Aside from the patronising assertions of “What this will mean for Africa?”, and cringeworthy features from Robben Island, Tshabalala’s goal was one of some class. All it did was ignite the passions of a nation that loves football and had eagerly been anticpating the start of the greatest show on earth in their own back yard for some time, not somehow unite Africa into one pangea of sport. If only football mattered half that much.

HUW HARROW – Sports Correspondent

Player of the Tournament

Bastian Schweinsteiger – If this world cup has shown us anything, it is the importance of the holding central midfielder. Whilst youngsters Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller were grabbing the headlines for their exhilarating displays it was Bastian Schweinsteiger who was the fulcrum of the German campaign. Stepping up to replace the talismanic Michael Ballack, Schweinsteiger has matured beyond recognition from the man considered by many to be a luxury player in to a tough tackling yet technically excellent general. His set pieces were also a huge asset to Joachim Louw’s men and the German side looks set to be built around him for the foreseeable future.

Best Goal

Giovanni van Bronckhorst v Uruguay – This simply has to be van Bronckhorst’s semi final thunderbolt. It is worth giving mention to Nicklas Bendtner’s equalizer for Denmark against Cameroon, an effortlessly simple, sweeping move, stemming from what must be the pass of the tournament from Simon Kjaer. However it would be churlish to deny this award to the Dutch veteran who produced the cleanest strike of a ball you are ever likely to see in a tournament where long range efforts tended to do little but stir memories of South Africa’s 1995 world cup rather than create their own.

Favourite Match

Brazil v North Korea – The minnows gave us a fair share of entertainment throughout this tournament. New Zealand taking the lead against holders Italy and ultimately holding on for a draw was a fantastic achievement. However, it was North Korea whose brave efforts against the might of Brazil provided us with an unforgettable piece of world cup history. From Jong Tae-Se’s waterworks during the national anthem, to Maicon’s wonder goal to Ji Yun-nam’s memorable late consolation this was the sort of drama only a world cup can provide.

Best Moment

Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal v Germany – Having been on the rack for the most part against the old enemy and 0-2 down early on, almost out of the blue Matthew Upson and Frank Lampard appeared to have brought England back from the brink. For the first time in the tournament the nation was united in joy and started dreaming of the greatest comeback since Lazarus. The joy of course was soon to turn to united anger, disbelief and delicious irony that this might somehow be payback for 1966, but this is my moment of the tournament as it may be the incident that instigates the long overdue addition to the game of goal line technology.

One comment

  1. 23 Jun ’17 at 3:00 pm

    Commercial Real Estate Broker

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

    http://www.mjturkfan.com/e/modules/profile/userinfo.php?uid=541584

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