I am somewhat uninterested in following this year’s tournament compared to previous editions. I am not supporting any particular team. I would have supported England as I have done on earlier occasions, except that this time around, I think they have the weakest squad of players ever.
Anyway, what prompted me to post about the World Cup in South Africa is the Italy – Slovakia game last night. I caught the game on big screen at a mamak restaurant in Taman Melawati. I hadn’t intended to do so. On the way back from the office, I stopped by the bank to withdraw money from the ATM. The noise from the nearby restaurant caught my attention and I could not resist going over there and take a seat. As it happens, I had not had my dinner yet. And so, over a plate of mee goreng and a glass of teh tarik kurang manis, I enjoyed a thrilling soccer match in the company of other football fans.
The atmosphere of watching football at a mamak makan place is entirely different from sitting at home and watching it alone on the flat-screen TV. Although I do not know anybody in that small crowd, I can easily exchange remarks with the guys sitting at the other tables around me. The dramatic game itself helped heighten the lively atmosphere.
I was cheering for Slovakia last night… for no particular reason except for the fact that Liverpool’s defender Martin Skrtel is in the Slovakian team (I am an Anfield supporter) and maybe because I like to root for the underdogs. Defending champions Italy were defeated by a tiny European nation playing in the finals for their first time. Skrtel’s goalmouth clearance was one of the key moments of the game that helped Slovakia maintain their lead and finishing as winners by 3 - 2. They are now through to the last 16 knockout stage.
So now, both the holders and runner-up of the 2006 World Cup are packing their bags to go home. Favourites to win the title remain the teams from South America (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) and those from Europe (Germany, Holland, Spain and Portugal). So which one will I support now? None of them… I think I’ll cheer for Ghana.
The tournament now is sure becoming interesting.
Skrtel blocked an Italian scoring attempt right on the goal line. Pic borrowed from liverpoolfc.tv