The Stars Left The Stage For Team Spirit

Another World Cup ends with the memories of vuvuzelas, excitement and Spain’s first time victory. Now it’s time to look back and sum up the highlights of the event.

It was probably the most important reflex of his life. He didn’t know what the outcome would be. With tears in his eyes, he headed for the locker rooms. The hero of the game would not be able to see one of the most dramatic moments of the game, or perhaps of the entire history of World Cup. When Asamoah Gyan stood by the ball, tens of thousands of people at the streets of Accra, the capital of Ghana were already celebrating the semi final as Gyan was the best spot kicker of Africa. He has turned two penalty shoots in to goal in previous cup games.
The same moment was anticipated with great excitement in Montevideo, a far away city in another country of another continent… As Gyan’s shoot hit the cross bar and went out, the streets of Uruguay, the champion of the first World Cup ever, became one huge carnival place. The semi final that came during the goal kicks heralded the return of Uruguay to the world soccer scene. With Forlan’s leadership, Suarez’s courage, and with the fray of the defense, but most important of all, with team spirit, Uruguay has left its mark on
the World Cup.

The debate on if Messi or Ronaldo was the greatest evolved in to another one as Messi’s prodigious performance at Barcelona outshone Ronaldo: Maradona or Messi? As a soccer fan who grew up watching Maradona, I thought this was beyond argument. Messi was surely one of the best players today but Maradona was one of the greatest of all times. He has carried the mediocre Argentinean team once to World Cup championship and once to the final. He has made Napoli, a team no one ever heard before, the champion of Italy and later the UEFA champion. He played in a time when there were players who took the field only to kick him. But every time he played, he set the world on fire.
Coached by Maradona, Argentina was nevertheless the most colorful team of the cup.

Along with its superstars, the team’s every match was a sensation. The injuries of Samuel and Veron and the fact that Messi could not practice before the game because of his flu, had a negative impact on the team’s performance when they were playing against Germany and they gave away the goal at the second minute.  During the match he hankered for Cambassio whom he did not invite to play at the tournament. Even so, Germany had to play against an upright rival.

2010 did not turned out to be a cup of “superstars” as it was expected. All four teams that played at the semi finals stood out with their fray, cooperation and their attention to the both sides of the game. All four of them were coached by their native technical directors. They were talking to their players in their own language; not with the help of a translator. The players that controlled the pass traffic in all four teams were top flight players in world’s major leagues.

I really don’t want to talk about the referees. And there is no need to recite the final tie. Sometimes the ball passes the goal line and the history writes the name of the champion; no one remembers the second runner up. Sometimes the ball falls behind the line and the best coaches are fired, the greatest players are catcalled. These are the things that we see in every cup. But we don’t hear the crying sound of vuvuzelas in every cup. We don’t witness that many needless disputes on ball positions nor cheering up of control football at every cup. And not all cups are won by the team that deserves it this much...

Think about it: Four years ago the French gave the final game when Zidane was shown the red card. The same French eliminated Ireland to play the final with a goal after a position that Henry had to correct using his hands. While trying to improve its own national league, England could not prevent almost all its goalkeepers to be foreigners. And all these three teams were disappointed at the cup. A giant like Brazil was deprived of superstars such as Ronaldinho, Paro or Adriano, because of the insecurities of Dunga. 

And we weren’t qualified… Bringing excitement to every tournament, the new face of the world soccer scene, the Turkish team wasn’t there. The next world cup will be in Brazil. My gut tells me that we will be there, and we will be there to the bitter end… Because a lot of things will change in the next four years. We have overcome our fears and insecurities. We are confident enough to trust our young players with our team. Now it’s time to come up trumps and why not start with Brazil?