Football Fever?

52 Comments

Maybe it’s true what they say about getting old—-you lose your short-term memory but retain your long, remembering things that happened years ago while forgetting where you kept your dentures six seconds back. Otherwise who can explain why the moment the word “World Cup” is mentioned, my mind fills up with images of the past.

Maradona, in his prime, cutting through the Belgian defense like knife through butter and then upping that against the English with another thrilling dash. Maradona at his uninspired best, totally dominated by the Brazilian markers throughout the match, suddenly unleashing a bit of twinkle-toed magic to send the long-haired comet Claudio Caniggia in the clear and Brazil out of the Cup.  Zico, one of the greatest players of his era, missing a penalty and then his opponent Michel Platini, in the heat of the contest, consoling him in what would go onto become one of the all-time classics. Baggio’s missed penalty. Saeed Al-Owairan’s unbelievable run to goal. Roger Milla taking the ball from under the feet of that super clown Higuita. Valderama, Rincon and Asprilla making the defense dance with their triangle-passing game. Hassan Sas turning the Brazilians round and round with some amazing dribbling skills.

But surprisingly, none of the images of the present. Not to say that there were no memorable footballing moments this World Cup. There were some— like player of the tournament Diego Forlan(from a nation that gave us Francescoli and Sosa)’s last second cross-post kissing free-kick against Germany, some of Ghana’s games and some very attractive football from the side never mentioned in the same sentence as “beautiful”: Germany. But too few such vignettes for me to hope to see them dance in front of me, when I close my eyes ten years down the line.

Perhaps there was great football but I missed it totally. Maybe I was just too disappointed to see the “Joga Bonito” Brazil of Socrates, Zico and Ronaldo reduced to the charm of a group of accountants at the annual actuarial conference. Maybe it was just that all the hyped heroes turned out to be damp squibs—-scowling  bag of hot wind Wayne Rooney (the Yousuf Pathan of football—hot in E(I)PL but a dud for the nation), the good-for-the-ladies Ronaldo, the under-weather Kaka, the off-color Torres, broken-arm Drogba and the perennially worried Messi. Maybe what blanked everything out was the terrible final, with a record number of cards, that resembled more a scrap in the mud between community gundas and local police organized as part of Calcutta Police’s outreach program, than the showpiece match of the tournament.

Wait. Maybe I am not saying this correctly.

I will remember something about  World Cup 2010.

Just not the soccer.

I will remember it for one of the greatest boo-boos seen in goal. I will remember it for two games ruined by atrocious refereeing; one by a blatantly obvious off-side and aone by a disallowed goal where the ball had gone yards behind the white line. I will remember it for noisy vuvuzelas and for videos of the French team fighting among themselves.

I will remember it for Paul the Octopus, who depending on whom you asked, was either Octradamus or an incarnation of Clever Hans (though a month before the final, my God had already had called the winner, which shows that Paul has nothing on Chakraborty). I will remember it for Bejan Daruwala who prophecied that the final would be decided in the last eleven minutes. I will remember it for the lowest-common-denominator-based publicity-grubbing, matched by only this bit of genius social media strategy, from Paraguayan super-fan Larissa Riquelme, who possibly eclipsed Juan Roman Riquelme as the most famous person in football with that surname) by thrusting her two jabulanis or “celebrations” (possibly made of the same ethylene-vinyl acetate that gave the footballs too much bounce) to become a world wide celebrity, reminding us all how there is a Times of India inside the mind of every person and that sometimes World Cups are all about the cups.

And I will remember it for Bappi Lahiri’s eenternational heet “Football Feber” . Not just for its beautiful rhyme scheme “Argentina ya France, football se romance”  but also because it had more originality than Shakira’s Waka Waka, which extensively sampled (more politically correct term for copied) this Cameroonian classic

Brazil plays like Belgium. Bappi-da is more original than Shakira.

It was that kind of a tournament.

[Errata: As pointed out by @rameshsrivats, the England goal happened before the Belgian goal.]

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52 thoughts on “Football Fever?

  1. Am I the first? iPod or iPad this time? BTW you share the same sentiments as I do when memories related to FIFA World Cup 2010 is concerned. I am still wondering why they didn’t allow the US goal against Slovenia. Will remember that for a long, long time including Gyan’s penalty miss.

  2. **Brazil played like Belgium**

    Milord – I object on behalf of Enzo Scifo and J.M.Pfaff !

    The 2010 Brazil team played much worse than Belgium ever could. Blame it on Dunga – as mediocre as a coach as he was as a player

    The Zico-Platini miss – and Brazil’s loss in the ’86 QF – hurts to this day. Ranks up there with the Chetan Sharma/JM last ball fiasco as one of the all-time heartbreak moments

  3. Football Fever !! India’s answer to Shakira. Check out the mallu version of Waka waka in youtube too.. thats even more hilarious

  4. You missed out mentioning Spain…did you not find their Barcelona brand football attractive…in spite of an almost comical absence of the ability for a final strike. The midfield dominance, passing and dribbling was of the highest order.

    And Higuita was no clown, he was capable…just a little excitable maybe (ahem!) 😀

  5. “reminding us all how there is a Times of India inside the mind of every person and that sometimes World Cups are all about the cups”….Priceless

  6. Talking about Bappi da- during first edition of I-league (it was called P league then), Bappi da sang the theme song… One line was, “pyar se goal le lo”.
    I think Indian footballers took that seriously 🙂

  7. I agree with you GB, this WC was one of the drabbest ever, with the only excitement coming in the form of “who will win the Golden boot”……..

    And Higuita was one of the most competent goalkeepers of his time 🙂 – his scorpion kick still evokes great memories

  8. While fully supporting Arnab, me thinks world cups like 2010 lack characters like those which we saw earlier ( whether for skills or for sheer entertainment value)

  9. I won’t even remember this world cup as i am living here in Mumbai away from family and a TV too….so followed the matches through newspaper articles and pathetically slow streaming videos on You-tube courtesy-My office slow net connection……….hope to have better luck next time in 2014…..

  10. Sorry very very disappointing post. No memorable moments from this World Cup, ok the final was DRAB, and most of the finals since 1990 have been boring. But come on

    * Germany’s Demolition of England and Argentina.

    * Argentina’s brilliant play in the Pre Quarters and League.

    * The Superb game by Germany, Uruguay, Ghana and Holland( in some of the earlier games).

    * South Africa’s spirited show against France and Mexico.

    * The Ghana-Uruguay clash.

    And for the record Arnab, i have been watching World Cup since 1986, and yes i saw Maradonna’s “Goal of the Century” Live, so hold your horses, before you feel I am one of the New Kids on the Block, who was just watching football couple of years back.

    Sure, Kaka, Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo were flops, but no words for Forlan, Klose, Mueller, Gyan, Villa who played some superb play. Or is it that like a “Gutter Inspector’s Report”, you just choose to dwell on the negatives, leaving out the postives.

    Honestly Arnab, this is like an Aaj Tak/India TV report, concentrating only on the sensation mongering, about Paul and the Paraguayan female.

    YOU CAN DO MUCH BETTER, BUT THIS IS A BIG BIG LETDOWN FROM YOU.

  11. “Maybe I was just too disappointed to see the “Joga Bonito” Brazil of Socrates, Zico and Ronaldo reduced to the charm of a group of accountants at the annual actuarial conference. Maybe it was just that all the hyped heroes turned out to be damp squibs—-scowling bag of hot wind Wayne Rooney (the Yousuf Pathan of football—hot in E(I)PL but a dud for the nation), the good-for-the-ladies Ronaldo, the under-weather Kaka, the off-color Torres, broken-arm Drogba and the perennially worried Messi. Maybe what blanked everything out was the terrible final, with a record number of cards, that resembled more a scrap in the mud between community gundas and local police organized as part of Calcutta Police’s outreach program, than the showpiece match of the tournament.”

    Maybe like every one else, you just got too distracted by Bappi Lahiri.

    Now i can understand that with the hacks in Aaj Tak or India TV, not you. Of course if you feel proud in being compared to their standards, all the best.

  12. Too many footballing points to disagree with … Going sequentially :

    Maradona played England first and then Belgium.

    Valderrama , Rincon & Asprilla were on of the biggest disappointments of 1994. Having qualified undefeated , they came in with high expectations and considering the continental bias of the tournament , they were heavily favoured but went down pretty tamely. Pretty similar story to Ivory
    Coast this year. so not really sure about triangle offense that made the defence dance. The biggest story regarding them was the self goal scoring defender who was shot dead after the world cup.
    Brazil’s charm was reduced no doubt but this was was one of the most effective teams from that country. One world class striker and they would completed their sweep of winning world cup in all continents. Maicon’s goal being the standout one of the tournament.

    Wayne Rooney without a doubt was the 2nd biggest flop of the tournament , (CR7 being higher). But to compare him to Yusuf Pathan is to give a massive biggest compliment to Lalit Modi. Club football is much more tougher and competitive than the once in 4 years World cup. Simple stats : any top player with a top team in Europe plays 45 to 50 matches over a 9 month season , and about 5 to 10 matches for his country over the course of the year. So though its factually correct to say that Rooney has performed in EPL and not WC , it does not do justice to the man’s performances through the year while playing competitive football. 2ndly … Football is a team game much more than cricket is with greater importance to team formations and strategy which are devised by astute coaches. Rooney is simply better handled and used by Alex Ferguson than by Fabio Capello.

    Your post seems to be hampered by the fact that you follow football in the world cup phase only. Diego Forlan has been in outstanding form for Atletico Madrid and luckily his place/role in the Uruguay team is quite similar to what he does for Atleti , play behind the main striker (Aguero / Luis Suarez). Mueller was the find of the season for Bayern. The world cup just added to their lustre.

    And regarding the finals , i cant remember a good world cup final since 1986. Most have been scrappy affairs or haplessly one sided stuff. The great matches have always been in the Quarter finals stage.

  13. “Maybe it’s true what they say about getting old—-you lose your short-term memory but retain your long, remembering things that happened years ago while forgetting where you kept your dentures six seconds back.”

    For the record i am 40 years, and i know a fellow football enthusiast who is 60+ and follows every game with the same enthusiasm. Don’t bring age into the question here.

  14. Sad, sad WC! Everything could have been a lot better – the draw, the refereeing, the players, the sound levels, the pitches, the final. Unfortunately, the 2010 WC will only be highlighted for random other things – the animals and their scores, the godawful vuvuzelas, Larissa Riquelme, low low levels of football by so many previous winners; Italy, France, England all out at the group stage, the best footballer in the world leaves with not even a single goal though he did set up many, goals denied, goals allowed, the absolutely atrocious final game…ofcourse the next one is going to be won by Brazil so thats that anyway.

    Yet there were some brilliant moments; South Korea was brilliant, they fought all the way, the Mexican and Uruguay teams ran long and hard. but even their contribution is more of a foot note in the entire tourney.

  15. @ ratnakar- relax dude- this’s arnabs’ opinion on the wc – if u disagree with him fine as well- but one post is enough to express yr displeasure- dont keep posting and ruin it for others’ who tend to agree with him – peace .. !!

  16. i am watching world cup from 1994. And the one match which i will remember forever is 2006 QF Brazil VS France. My god..Zidane at his best one of the greatest palyer of alltime. The brazilian player looked like a kid infront of him. Though the goal was scored by Thiere henary(pass was given by zidane) but the way zidane played simpally out of the world. now coming back to 2010. One moment that stand out is close goal against englend. just think German keeper kick the ball into the Englends penalty area and close push the ball in goal. Just the 2 palyer and 2 feet have involved and goal scroed. superb Ha..Ha.Ha..

  17. Don’t agree! This World Cup had its share of stirring moments! Loved every match of Argentina (don’t all Bengalis do?)! The madness of the Chile Vs Brazil match was for keeps! Ghana & Uruguay were the tragedies, and they thrilled in their displays!

    The Germans sent one of their most inexperienced World Cup Squads and under Lowe, they transformed themselves into one of the most efficient teams and it only took the brilliance of the Spanish midfield to stop them! That, after the Germans wrote the English and Argentine requiem in clinical fashion!

    The last 20 minutes of the Italy elimination match (they discarded their penchant for defence even if it was too late, but riveting football all the same)!

    USA – Donovon reviving a match where all but those 11 players thought they were goners!

    To say nothing of the Spanish Armada! To watch Iniesta dribble the ball past the German defenders was, well, something else!

    Yes, some of the stars failed! But that’s hardly a new phenomenon! Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, even Maradona have had such ruinous outings!

    For every Rooney, there has been a Forlan and for every Ronaldo (Christiano) there’s been a Xavi or a Robben to watch out for! (Heck, I even loved Honda in an otherwise dull Japanese team)

    Yes, Messi didn’t score! But, only the football-illiterate would say that he flopped!

    Disappointing post! Not entirely unexpected from a guy who thinks this is creativity – “Paraguayan super-fan Larissa Riquelme, who possibly eclipsed Juan Roman Riquelme as the most famous person in football with that surname) by thrusting her two jabulanis or “celebrations” (possibly made of the same ethylene-vinyl acetate that gave the footballs too much bounce) to become a world wide celebrity, reminding us all how there is a Times of India inside the mind of every person and that sometimes World Cups are all about the cups.”

    That’s cheapshit fun, but hey, as you and your fans said, “This is your blog…

  18. “reduced to the charm of a group of accountants at the annual actuarial conference”

    I don’t think a lot of people understood this but being an actuary, I fell out of my chair! How did you come up with this?

  19. @ Soumya
    Have to agree. This was one of the better world cups since 1986 when I first saw a World Cup.But the Brazilian performance was one of the worst as was their team.

    Forlan was just amazing. Reminded me of Gheorghe Hagi(Romania) and Dragan Stojkovi? (former Yugoslavia))

  20. Oh my Khujur,

    Your saffron-colored thugs lost in the final and still you liked it. Achtung. By the way Dragan was never a force in the WC but Hristo_Stoichkov was.

  21. GB,

    a truly fantastic post and you know what – i have been saying exactly the SAME things to many people here – my friends hate me for saying what i said about this world cup. in fact, uncannily, i had posted in my status update on facebook the EXACT analogy of Yusuf pathan (however i said this for all the big names including messi, etc) a few days back.

    and i fully agree with you. i belong to old school of soccer and i DO NOT follow english premier league because i do not like the current styles. i wait for 4 years to see brilliance in world cup (like old times when we did not have cable) and feel sad when the big names flatter to deceive.

    in my list of over-hyped players, i would put messi, ronaldo, kaka, torres, roony, lampard, gerrard, thierry henry, etc any time. i loved Forlan in the tournament and the German trio of schweinsteiger, podolski and klose.

    you wont believe it – i actually watched a lot of old time soccer (goals etc) on youtube while the current world cup was on. i thought time was being better spent. the goals of maradona (and the near miss against belgian which could have been his hat-trick), his setting it up against brazil, roger milla, gary linekar, emilio butragueno, burruchaga, valdano, careca, zico, socrates, falcao, baggio, paolo rossi, rumenigge, stoichkov, valderama – the list goes on…i still remember all the goas scored (and not scored)…

    they dont make like them anymore.

    cheers

  22. Tabloid at best. Of course, what can you expect when you have the ToI within you.

    Arnab, you’re not there yet when it comes to football. Cricket yes, but do not feel forced to HAVE to write on something that you don’t really care about..

    Paraguayan super-fan Larissa Riquelme, who possibly eclipsed Juan Roman Riquelme as the most famous person in football with that surname) by thrusting her two jabulanis or “celebrations” (possibly made of the same ethylene-vinyl acetate that gave the footballs too much bounce) to become a world wide celebrity, reminding us all how there is a Times of India inside the mind of every person and that sometimes World Cups are all about the cups.

    Thats writing…on a blog about football, Arnab da is able to add ‘bits’ to cater to his fans.

    There was as much drama this world cup as it was there in most cups. I mean when it comes to World Cup Football, it is more than football…it is the one global sporting event that brings the larger part of humanity together for a month and I mean from across the world…not just 5 or 6 countries competing for a World Cup that people only in these 5 or 6 countries watch.

    There were quite a few good matches, right up to the battle for the third and fourth place.

    Your comparison between Rooney and Pathan was unintentionally hilarious…We had a good laugh there.

    But, your blog…yours to say what you want to.

    Cheers,
    Rahul

  23. @ Paul the Octopus
    Yess! You are correct… Hristo Stoichkov not Dragan Stoichkovich.

    Forlan reminded me of Stoichkov, and Hagi, the lone gamemakers and setpeice masters of their average teams.

  24. Thanks for the link to original Waka waka song. Did anyone watch it? The guy from around 1:56 to 3:26 looks and acts so much like Dev Anand!

  25. I do believe that the world cup had its moments and the most significant one is the way the Spanish has revolutionized and stamped their ‘Barca’ style of football at the International level and did it so successfully.

    From last two decades the only problem Argentina were encountering as a Team was their lack of Plan B, they have reached Quarters in 98 2006 2010 but couldn’t operate in a different gear when situation demanded them to.

    I personally don’t like Brazil and would love this Spanish Armada to beat them 2-0 by having 68% of possession to show them who and which style of football is the ruling the game right now. For no logic or reason I want to see Brazil dismantled & may the win an event of this Magnitude when they Beat India in knock out stages, till then let others dominate the game Argentina or any bigwigs from Europe.

    Rooney and CR7 were the only flops, Torres and Drogba mainly thru injuries & as someone pointed out Messi was never a flop and was instrumental in at least 70% of the Argentine goals.

    For England their two best players were played out of position Rooney and Gerrard as part of Fabio’s strategy which cost him dearly & am sure their adamant manager would continue doing the same.

    Ghana did well without Essien & I want to see some of their stars come to the league I follow most, the Barclays League.

    The biggest success of this tournament is the arrival of Spain on world stage and though Xavi and Iniesta were missing Messi in the initial ties, they have come to terms with it, there was no stopping them. On Personal

    Honestly I liked the replies than the original post, responses from Prasun Banarjee Soumya Rahul were top draw…

    Now that’s why I would like to see an index of the responses given by various bloggers the non-anonymous ones at least, just to see how they traversed in the way they responded to the Bong..coz I believe a majority of audacious contradictions come from the GreatBong loyalists..

  26. 20 years down the line you’ll only remember the best moments of this world cup and will be trashing the 2030 WC. Thats hindsight.. thats human nature … and thats what we always call Good old days…

    P.S Prasun Bang on target

  27. Arnab, this blog reads like a typical “Hamare zamaane ki baat hi kuch aur thi!!” rant. Not cool.
    But definitely agree that once you reach 30+, the capacity to remember sporting events reduces considerably compared to school/ college days. That’s why in cricket also, several 30+ individuals like myself would distinctly remember “Desert Storm” but would have long forgotten some very good matches played in say, 2007-2008 between Ind and Aus.
    This World Cup was not disappointing at all, as several others have also said.
    And people, can we please put a full-stop to the Brazil-bashing?? Enough, already!!! They had a bad match and lost. Thats it, finito, no need to hammer them endlessly on “style” or “flair” etc and comparing them to the 70s Brazil team is an exercise in futility. Just 8 years back, in 2002, with Ronaldo at his best, the Brazil team was quite unbeatable. Give them a break!!
    As their coach Dunga said recently, “if we win, people say we did not have flair, if we show flair, people say we did not score 6-7 goals, if we score 6-7 goals, people say the opposition was weak!!!”

  28. Your sense and comments of football seems to be pretty much newspaper read. Sorry to say that but I think being in US you have become a soccer fan rather than a football fan. Football in 86 and present have a huge difference and hence I think comparing them is mere stupidity. Also, in future try to follow a bit more of club football rather than starting to watch football matches in world cup to asses calibre of players like Messi, Torres et. al.

  29. Pingback: Football Comment – from other post « Prasunbanerjee's Blog

  30. Sorry to say, this post is a flop. Expected much better from you. Btw, after 1986, which WC Final has produced a good match?

  31. GreatBong , sorry for nitpicking but there’s a mistake in the article .

    You said “Maradona, in his prime, cutting through the Belgian defense like knife through butter and then upping that against the English with another thrilling dash”

    However the England Match was played BEFORE the belgium match so it should be the other way round 😉

    Argentina vs England QFinal 2-1
    Argentina vs Belgium Semi – 2-0

  32. Forget Soccer, dudes…The World Cup fiesta is for other countries. Most countries can’t even qualify for it.

    You Indians did not qualify for the World Cup too, so that makes two of us who can commiserate… But atleast India is World Number One in Software.

    My fellow desis, please be proud that Pakistan too is World Number One in atleast one category.

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/07/12/data-shows-pakistan-googling-pornographic-material/

  33. Kya bakwas post likhi hei boss..

    Bought and read your book.. totally dissappointed… you should have had a note in begining or at end for people who read your blog to not buy it.

    BTW, your friend Dipta is a much better writer (as you also were in begining.. now your posts are like RGV’s Factory), but tell him not to rush into writing a book (I know he is doing on cricket)

  34. Thats why I say, Rahul Gandhi should be made captain of Indian football team, and Shilpa Shetty VC, Rakhi Sawant to be goalkeeper, and I will be manager. India will lift next football WC in Brazil, because we will play with bra and zeal!!

  35. I doubt if this was meant to be an analysis of the World Cup. For that one should go to Sportstar. Does that still exist.

    I would read this as a personal take on the WC> Which is fine. The fact is that when people from my vintage (mid 30s) sit together, 86 is what is discussed the most. I don’t follow football except during the World Cup. The most dominant image of late has been of the German attacks for me

  36. On the contrary, this has been the best world cup among the last four (if we take out few brilliances of Ronaldo/Rivaldo/Ronaldinho from 2002 and Zidane in 2006).

    This time a lot of matches in knock out stages were actually entertaining, stand-out being the Uruguay-Ghana match. Spain was in devastating form minus a genuine striker (Villa is nothing but Schillachi of 2010). As much as Germany did a image makeover, Holland just did the opposite becoming a disgrace.

    But you are right in a sense about England. People who are defending Rooney/Lampard/Gerrard about club football and 60-70 matches, remember this – 85% of the world cup footballers play in European clubs. That Forlan was in great form and so he won for Uruguay but English players were tired – is the weakest arugument for England. England is and will always be the most hyped team at least in near future.

    As Spain seems to ascending in style and form over the last few years the next worldcup will be historic to see how Brazil at home can overcome that.

  37. Don’t be under the hope that Brazil will counter Spain, not in the next decade at least to start with.

    England is a hyped team, English media is the worst in the world but English team could have performed much better. Their key players as mentioned earlier were played out of position & their most creative player Joe Cole was made to spent least time on pitch & same was mentioned about Forlan aswell.. he was played in the same position for both Club and Country, behind Aguero for Madrid and Suarez for Uruguay & that helped him big time, and of course his form came to his aid too..

    World cup is the biggest stage agreed but its almost Pete Sampras saying that I love to win Davis Cup more times than my 7 Wimbledon crowns. The performances and contributions of Club football cannot be ignored or overlooked;

    All in all pretty decent world cup & again Glad that Spain won..

  38. Cups, jabulanis, ethylene acelate blahboxyblahbate – you should write a book on euphemisms for the female anatomy.

  39. Arnab, stop living in the past. 2010 WC had its moments. Some sweet some bitter. No point in comparing with what you saw in 1986 when you were of that carefree age. The world was a big dream and wc football was a very welcome break from studying. Things are a bit different now. You are older. Can’t bunk office for a month! So you don’t get into the mood. Can’t enjoy the swing. No point whining mate. My son was supporting Spain. I spent a fortune in buying Adidas jerseys and a Jabulani copy (even that was a cool 1000 rupees). He seems to think Puyol and David Villa are the the best ever. I nod in agreement.

  40. Have to disagree with a lot of people here. 1998 WC is the best till date since 1986; both statistics wise (number of goals per match), and performance wise. Check the performances of underdogs like Croatia or Chile or even France. Before the WC some experts said that it would be won by some of the previous winners. But then there was the birth of a legend in the final and we got a new champ.
    Memorable goals: Owen, Bergkamp, Salas, Suker.
    Extraordinary goalkeeping by Preudhomme, Chilavert, Barthez.
    Drama: Zidane and Beckham getting red cards in pre-QF, Ariel Ortega dribbling too much, Ronaldo’s epileptic seizure before the final.

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