Let’s hear it for the underdog! (World Cup Braindump #3)

by Steve

Much has been made of this World Cup being thoroughly disappointing so far. We’ve had a real lack of goals (bar Germany), a real lack of quality (bar Germany again) and a real lack of drama. Until yesterday, anyway. It wasn’t the big guns that brought some life to the tournament, but the two rank outsiders – New Zealand and North Korea.

  • I caught the second half of the New Zealand/Slovakia game and it was great fun. It was so refreshing to see a team actually going for it, as New Zealand did, and getting their just reward with an injury time equalizer. How wonderful for a team to not hold back. There was a real tangible sense that they realised that this was their World Cup moment.
  • It also didn’t hurt that I’d had a little bet on the draw – and was proved right!
  • I listened to Portugal/Ivory Coast and it sounded dire. I think perhaps the only thing worse than watching it was listening to 90 minutes of Robbie Savage cracking dreadful jokes to a guffawing Alan Green. I hope this is the World Cup’s low point. I don’t want to go any lower.
  • Brazil/North Korea was the ultimate David and Goliath encounter. North Korea put in a marvellous performance, and showed how far a well-organised team can go. At 2-0 with 10 minutes to go I put a small wager on North Korea getting the draw – at odds of 500-1. When they got that goal back there was much excitement in my household, I can tell you. Sadly, for the North Koreans and my bank balance, it wasn’t to be.
  • You’d have to think that North Korea might have something to say about how their group pans out. It can’t be beyond the realms of possibility for them to get a draw against either Portugal or the Ivory Coast. If they draw with both they could even conceivably qualify.
  • I really should be calling North Korea “PRD Korea” or similar , shouldn’t I?
  • Today’s games are promising, but then aren’t they always? I’ll be doing my best to sneak out for a late lunch to catch the second half of Chile/Honduras, which could be a rare goaltastic encounter for this tournament. Spain/Switzerland will give us a first glance of the favourites, but I can see being quite edgy. South Africa/Uruguay should be fun tonight, if only because the hosts are involved. Hopefully with one game behind them both sides will be less cautious and/or jitterery, and we’ll see a good game.