Now I can point to endless articles I have written on here that have been so on the money, in terms of their predictions/forecasts, that it’s scary! Only recently I predicted the demise of Benitez and that Chelsea would win the PL. I have also clearly pointed out that Mourinho is a lucky wanker, Wenger a sleep-walking idealist and Maradona a nutter.
Enough, I think you’ll agree, to suggest that I have a crystal ball…..can predict the future as it were! And so right you’d be! While most of you are drooling in anticipation of the upcoming World Cup….I’ve actually been there….seen that….and while I don’t want to spoil your fun, if you’re interested…here’s how it unfolded.
For those who don’t want to know the outcome……..switch off now!
The Group Stages
The competition gets off to a glorious start with the Bafana Bafana and the cacophony of a million vuvuzelas setting the tone for party time. South Africa and Mexico play out a 5-5 draw in a spectacular opener.
Buoyed by their fanatical support the hosts go on to defeat Uruguay and France. In the final group match, the French, needing a draw to qualify, are locked in a 1-1 stalemate with SA, 2 minutes into injury time. Pienaar gathers in midfield and floats a delightful ball into Parker who controls it with his arm, juggles it twice with his left hand and smashes a sweet volley beyond the dumbfounded and hapless Hugo Lloris!
The referee signals Goal! and the Bafana go wild as they top Group A.
Thierry Henry is incensed, claiming there is no precedence for such a shameful decision, declaring that the officials must be blind, deaf and dumb, while adding that it was a ‘home’ decision if ever he saw one! Meanwhile the French FA threaten to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Blatter supports the referee, provoking Platini to label him a dictatorial, senile, fat Swiss windbag. The two refuse to talk to each other for the remainder of the tournament.
In the aftermath, Raymond Domenech is instantly sacked as French manager and offered a choice between the guillotine and exile. He chooses the latter and his passport is revoked by the French authorities.
And over in Rustenburg the Mexicans are dancing on their hats as a convincing win over Uruguay sees them claim the runners-up spot.
Argentina set the ball rolling against Nigeria in Group B and the cameras are lovin’ Maradona. His demonic prancing and screaming on the touchline climax when Argentina are denied an obvious penalty. The ‘Hand of God’ is seen throttling the 4th official, clearly egged on from the bench by a frenzied Carlos Tevez. ‘Give that bastard the ‘welcome to Manchester treatment’ boss!’, shouts Carlos. (OK we don’t speak Spanish on here but that one’s gonna to be obvious…is it not?)
Diego is forced to watch the remaining group games from the stand while the South Koreans deliver the headlines by winning the group. Argentina take 2nd as Greece and Nigeria bow out.
Meanwhile in Group C Algeria shock everybody by winning all 3 of their games to take top spot. Back in Algiers millions take to the streets in unbridled celebration (especially after the 2-1 defeat of England), and a national holiday is declared. England dispatch Slovenia and the USA to take 2nd place……as the tabloid journalists sharpen their knives.
Serbia justify their label of ‘dark-horses’ in Group D by winning the group and forcing the Germans into 2nd place. Australia start Harry Kewell in their second match against Ghana but after 20 minutes he collapses and breaks into 5 different pieces. 5 stretchers carry the hapless Harry off the pitch.
Group E proves boringly predictable with the Netherlands and Denmark taking the honours, in that order, although rumours abound of ‘a divide’ in the Dutch camp. Apparently Robben becomes pissed-off with Sneijder’s gloating over the CL final and nuts him. The squad (like Sneijder’s nose) are split down the middle and the manager has lost control. (Can’t believe that would ever happen to the Dutch!)
And Group F is equally predictable with Italy on top, yet unimpressive, and Paraguay just scraping through at the expense of Slovakia and (the pitiful) New Zealand.
In contrast, Group G sees more action than Paris Hilton’s underwear! The Ivory Coast face Portugal in the opener and Drogba’s hat-trick is cancelled-out by 3 own-goals from Eboue. But the game explodes late on as Ronaldo and Nani, competing for ‘show-pony’ of the tournament, descend on a ball into the area and kick-each other as they go for the winner. A cat fight ensues as they flog each other with their handbags…..and both are sent off in disgrace.
Portugal bow out and Carlos Queiroz calls Fergie to see if the assistant manager’s job has a vacancy at Old Trafford. Sir Alex explains the situation discretely: “Fuck-off Carlos!”
But that’s only the start of the drama in ‘The Group of Death’. Widely billed as a dogfight between Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, it’s the North Koreans (they who none of us have ever heard of) who produce the headline of the century (OK it’s only 10 years into the century but this one won’t be beaten). A ‘backs to the wall’ display sees them contain Dunga’s Brazil until the 89th minute.
Penalty Brazil! Up steps Robinho and crashes the penalty against the crossbar whereupon it rebounds to the halfway line where the waiting, and extremely grateful, Jong Tae-Se gathers without a Brazilian defender in sight. He sprints 20 meters before chipping the advancing Cesar to perfection and the sound of the Samba not beating deafens the stadium. The ensuing media buzz causes internet crashes across the globe.
Dunga becomes the 1st ever coach to be saked mid-tournament as Ronaldinho and Adriano are appointed joint managers in his place.
The North Koreans dig out draws against the Ronaldoless and Naniless Portugese and the Ivory Coast (coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 after Drogba is sent off for diving (9 times) and Kalou is sent-off for missing 15 chances.)
……Brazil recover to top the group while the North Koreans stun everybody…taking 2nd. Meanwhile Ronaldinho and Adriano agree that the Brazilian squad need some R&R before the knock-out stages and book-out a Soweto nightclub for the entire following week.
Spain disappoint the bookies by comfortably winning Group H as the flair and flamboyance of Chile sees them take 2nd. Switzerland and Honduras go out…..much to the delight of (nearly) everybody.
Only 2 weeks in and we’ve been left breathless, if not incredulous, at what has unfolded so far……..let the knock-out stages begin!
Round of Sixteen (is it just me or should this not be called the 1/8th finals?)
Disappointment at the outset as the infectious support of the hosts is finally silenced by a dogged Argentina. Maradona cuts a subdued figure, finally reinstated to the dugout, but with the game locked in a 0-0 stalemate, makes an inspired substitution. Higuain off, Aguero on!
“I didn’t give you my daughter for nothing you gutless dog!” he snarls, as Aguero scurries on like a cussed puppy. He duly delivers with a sublime header and the world sulks as the Bafana go out.
South Korea beat Mexico, Germany (never write them off!) bring the Algerian party to an end…… before England face Serbia!
The dark-horses against the super optimists…..something has to give….and it does!
Five minutes in and Vidic meticulously stamps on Rooney’s 4th metatarsal….crunch! Rooney …and England…gone! Terry (the deposed English captain) takes exception and in a Drogbaesque fit slaps Vidic across the face…..instantly seeing red (of the refereeing variety). Wayne Bridge and Theo Walcott are spotted celebrating amongst the Serbian fans.
England, however, hang on and after 120 minutes it’s 0-0. The dreaded penalty shoot-out unfolds and with the score at 10-9 to Serbia up steps Emile Heskey. He calmly places the ball on the spot, retreats 20 meters and sets-off on a run-up of Usain Bolt proportions, connecting with some venom.
The ball soars towards the top corner with the keeper a mere spectator but misses the angle by a whisker and gathers height as it clears the stadium roof and, with the prevailing winds in its favour, carries 2km into the Bloemfontein countryside, bouncing twice in a farm yard before nudging up against a barn door.
England are gutted but a defiant Heskey declares at a post match interview that the taunts of him being unable to hit a barn door with a banjo have been well and truly laid to rest. Terry is vilified by the press who suggest that he should piss-off to Real Madrid and have an affair with some spanish tart….but, predictably, Capello takes the brunt of the abuse.
The Sun leads with a picture of Fabio, a large English oak tree, with a spaghetti noose dangling ominously from one of its branches, looming large in the background. ‘Copello this Fab!, screams the headline. The Mirror opts for a computer generated image showing Capello with a pizza sitting on his head: ‘Pizza Crapello!’ is their offering, while The Star bids Fabio farewell with……‘Arrivederci Italian Meatball!’.
Others are equally imaginative…..hell make your own up and post them in the responses!
Elsewhere the Dutch dispense with Paraguay despite one half of the team refusing to pass to the other half, while Italy overcome the gutsy but average Danes. But once again, the best is saved till last!
Del Bosque’s Spain are unbackable against the North Koreans but the Asians know no fear! They dig in from the outset and kick everything in sight. Nine bookings later and with Xavi hobbling, Torres sulking and Fabregas grimacing……it’s 0-0 and penalties. The frustrated Spaniards score just one of 4 penos and lose 3-1. North Korea declare world sovereignty! (not sure what that means but it sounds impressive!)…..having, for the 2nd time in as many weeks, produced the headline of the century!
Meanwhile, in the all South American affair, Brazil, looking severly hung-over, take to the pitch against Chile. Kaka throws-up in the dressing-room and is too ill to start. A Sanchez hat-trick sees them 3-0 down after 20 minutes and the Chileans toy with them throughout the 2nd half as the Brazilians World Cup ends in embarassment. The boys from Brazil head back to the night club for a piss-up.
And, at last, the final 8 have been decided: Argentina, Germany, South Korea, Serbia, Holland, Chile, Italy and North Korea.
How will it all unfold? See part 2 of our amazing 2010 World Cup preview for the final instalment on the greatest show on earth!
I’ve been there….and it’s one hell of a finish……trust me!