Archive for July, 2010

Aah! The World Cup

July 11, 2010

Now that the world cup fever has ended on July 11th, I thought I would outline the one thing about each world cup I remember.

The first world cup I consciously remember following was the 1982 edition. Indian television then was like North Korean TV today. If I remember right, there was precisely one channel, maybe two, and 24 hour programming was unheard of. Aamchi Maati, Aamchi Maansan and chhayageet were the key programs on TV. However, India was hosting the Asian games, and for the first time in the country’s history, TV transmission was going to be in color. The other thing I remember about 1982 was the world cup. I dont recall whether the matches were telecast live, but, I recall it was held in spain, and Paolo Rossi led Italy to victory. What was interesting was he apparently almost didnt make the team, and ended up winning the golden boot.

By 1986, Indian TV had progressed to relaying world cup matches live for sure. I remember because I was in high school and distinctly remember watching most of the matches live. As the matches were held in Mexico, they pretty much took place at unearthly hours in India. However, since lucubration in preparation for the IIT-JEE was well underway, it did not require any special effort. I distinctly remember the incredible goal by Maradona against England, not the ‘hand-of-god’ one, but the one where he single-handedly took on the entire team and scored. Argentina, of course, went on to win, but the tradition of seeing the matches live had taken hold in my life.

In 1990, I was an undergraduate, and our dorm was soccer crazy, being the intra-mural soccer champs. I recall Germany putting in an efficient performance, and squeaking past Argentina in the finals to avenge their narrow defeat in 1986. Brazil, supposedly the kings of soccer had not made the final game since 1970 and there was talk of parity in soccer in the world, etc.

In 1994,  I happened to be interning at small company in the Bay Area and my roommate and I caught a couple of games at Stanford stadium. I remember seeing the own goal by a colombian defender, Pablo Escobar, that cost him his life back in colombia. Brazil finally had Romario, Bebeto, and a few other players, and managed to lift the cup, helped in no small part by Roberto Baggio from Italy missing a penalty.

In 1998, the world cup happened around the same time that I got married, and I missed seeing the final live. I couldnt believe the final score of France -3, Brazil – 0, but, I guess this is when Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, etc, burst on the international scene.

In 2002, the world cup was held in south korea, and what I remember most from that is how Hakan Suker from the Turkish club called Galatasaray led Turkey to a third place finish. I had not heard of Turkey, or the club ever before, and to see their quality of play was incredible. Of couse, who can forget how South Korea played an incredible tournament to reach the semis and finish fourth. Brazil won again to become the only country to win in Americas, Europe, and Asia.

In 2006, the world cup was held in Germany, and I remember the Italians starting very slowly, but, somehow, they managed to win the key games and won the final on penalty kicks. I wanted to go to Germany during the world cup, but having a 1 year old made that difficult. I did end up going for work during October-Fest instead. Most enjoyable time to be in Germany, one has to say..

In 2010, Spain managed to squeak past Netherlands in what must be one of the ugliest games of the world cup, but when the stakes are so high, no one wants to make mistakes. The better team won, but, it was painful to watch. I wanted Germany to win because of their incredible dismantling of England and Argentina, but, they lost to Spain in the semis, and ended up in third place. Thomas Mueller has got to be the find of the tournament, imagine scoring 5 world cup goals and winning the golden boot when you are 20 and being compared to Pele, when the supposed stars like Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Kaka, Torres, and not to forget the french and italians, all fizzled out.

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