Field Of Dreams

The 2010 World Cup is going to come to us from the faraway country of South Africa, a perfect setting since it’s winter there now. Let’s see what surprises the cup may have in store.

Captivated by the words spoken by a mysterious, disembodied voice, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) decides to follow the dream he has nurtured all his life. With the help of his wife Annie (Amy Madigan), he sets out to build the field of his dreams, and in the process experiences some moving moments on the nights when he meets up with his boyhood heroes on the Field of Dreams.
The 1989 production ‘Field of Dreams’ was one of the best fantasy-drama films I’ve ever seen. Very few films I know portray the father-son relationship so movingly. Also handled well in the film is America’s favorite sport, baseball. And right now it’s as if the world’s favorite sport, soccer, is about to become a Field of Dreams for a continent very far removed from North America. For an entire month, world stars like Messi, C. Ronaldo, Drogba, Eto’o, Agüero, Torres, Rooney, Xavi, Kaka, Robinho, Pampard, Robben, Anelka, Ribery, Casillas, Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Tevez, Lucio, Van Persie and Gerrard are going to take center stage in South Africa at the tip of the once ‘dark’ continent, where a total of 64 matches are going to be played on the Field of Dreams. The whole world is going to watch and it’s going to be great fun.

We are all going to experience South Africa 2010 together. There will definitely be surprises. Magnificent matches await us as well as others that will be rather ho-hum. Since it’s winter in South Africa, the weather couldn’t be better for football. High-level measures have been taken for security. The sponsors have put together projects to entertain the fans in ‘fan parks’ created in the cities where the matches will be played. The stadiums are new and comfortable. It would be a little difficult however to say the same of transportation however. Traveling by train especially is not recommended for security reasons.

Racism is a subject to which importance is given off the field in football today. This year’s World Cup is taking place in South Africa, one of the places where the struggle against racism sent up its first shoots, and it is even more significant for that reason.
The years of preparation, the newly built stadiums, and the hotels that filled up months ago have all generated great excitement in South Africa, where the World Cup will find its new owner following matches played in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Tshawane, Polokwane, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Port Elisabeth and Nelspruit.

Unfortunately Turkey will not be on football’s ‘Field of Dreams’ where 32 nations will compete for the championship. We were unable to pass the eliminations. Instead we are going to watch foreign players from our own league go for the cup this time. We will watch two Turks on the German National Team, Mesut Özil and Serdar Taşçı, and one on the Swiss, Gökhan İnler. From Galatasaray, Kewell and Neill will play for Australia, Dos Santos for Mexico, Elano for Brazil, and Keita for Ivory Coast. Fenerbahçe’s Lugano will don the captain’s armband for the Uruguay National Team. Beşiktaş’s Holosko, and Ankaragücü’s Vittek and Sapara will sweat it out for Slovakia. Three players from Cameroun are in the Turkcell Super League: Kayserispor’s Süleymanou, Trabzonspor’s Song and Ankaragücü’s Geremi. And Van Heerden, who came to Sivas just this season, is on South Africa’s National Team. Shining star of Beşiktaş, Tello, will be on the Chile National Team and Antalyaspor’s defense player, Jedinak, is another player on the Austrian National Team.

This makes 16 players, but the number could go up or down depending on injuries and red card offenses. What’s more, two world stars like Anelka and Ribery, who are well known in Turkey, are in the French lineup.

For the first time perhaps, there isn’t going to be any clear cup favorite. Brazil, Italy, Spain and Germany are all out in front. But strong teams like England, Argentina, Holland and France with their top-notch players could create a few surprises. Ivory Coast has been tipped as Africa’s strongest team by authorities on the subject. But Drogba and his colleagues are in the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’. If they defeat Brazil and Portugal and make it to the second round, there’s a lot they could do with their high energy and fan support. Even if Dunga, who has left names like Ronaldinho, Adrinao, Ronaldo and Andre Santos out of the lineup, makes the Brazilian National Team second, it won’t be considered a true success. I say this as one who followed the 1998 and 2006 World Cups closely and who has watched matches with the Samba nation. The Brazilians are incredible football fans, but they are ruthless when it comes to their technical directors. Brazil is perhaps going to be the team feeling the most pressure to win.

In Argentina, which has snapped up all the tournament tickets for the last elimination match, everybody is wondering whether Maradona is going to use a big star like Messi. The fact that Atletico’s Agüero played such a big role in their UEFA European League victory could create an ego problem on the team since Agüero is also Maradona’s future son-in-law and he plays in the same part of the field as stars like Messi, Tevez and Milito.

I have similar thoughts when I remember Cruyff’s quip, “Football is simple, but the hardest thing there is, is to play simple football,” or Gary Linacre’s, “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” No matter what they may lack in aesthetics, the German National Team, like the Italian, is a tournament team. If they get through the first round, they could go very far. Maradona and his unforgettable performance in Mexico ’86 come to mind at any mention of the World Cup. The goal world football’s number one star sent into the English net in the quarter final is one of the most disputed in cup history. But the second goal he shot, bypassing seven English players as well as goalkeeper Shilton, was the cup’s most beautiful by far. Following Maradona we should remember other football greats on the Field of Dreams such as Pele, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Müller, Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Platini, Didi, Garrincha, Zico, Zoff and Maier.

Soccer fans by the hundreds of thousands are flocking to South Africa to follow the world’s biggest soccer event.

The championship is bringing together the world’s top football players. The dream teams are turning the turf into a fabulous football fest.
Leonel Messi - Argentina

I’ve never been to Africa before. I am going to go with Guus Hiddink for the cup. Of course we are going to watch mainly the matches of Germany, who will be in our group in Euro 2012. Germany is a tournament team and a favorite in every cup it plays in. That’s why I don't agree with those who regard it as good fortune that it will be in our group.
Mahmut Özgener - President, Football Fedration Of Turkey

I went to South Africa in May 1994 to take part in a board meeting of the International Press Institute. I will never forget Table Mountain. It looms before you just like a table as you descend to land at the airport. The kangaroo paté at Cape Town is very famous. Cape Town impressed  me the most, of course, since it is the city at the tip of the continent. In the World Cup I’m for my favorite, Barcelona, and Argentina because I admire Messi. I have a certain antipathy for Brazil, but they are very strong. Spain is also among the favorites with names like Xavi, Torres and
Puyol. I hope that the African teams will be successful too. And to tell the truth, I’m very sad that Turkey couldn’t go.
Hasan Cemal - Columnist,The Daily Milliyet

Those who travel to South Africa to experience cup fever are going to find a magnificent natural environment as well

I believe I was one of the first in the world of football to go to South Africa. I went there in 1973 while I was working for a private firm. I’ll never forget it. Our 67-kg European boxing champion, Cemal Kamacı, had not been able to get a visa, but I did. I went another time in 1944-95 for the Meridian Cup. Last year I went again as Fair Play Social Communications Chairman. We put together a project called “Win in Africa with Africa’, designed to prepare children there for life and to train them through football. We toured Robben Island. You can find delicious meat and seafood in Cape Town. You can join a safari. You should see Kruger Park and Lion Park. There are kilometer after kilometer of shopping centers below the hotels. You can find anything you want. I am very sorry that Turkey won’t be playing. I’m not expecting any big surprises in the cup. But I find it wrong to compare Messi with Maradona. Messi needs to do some things atthe national team level first. But that is looking
Şenes Erzik - Uefa Vice-President, Fifa Executive Founding  Member

World Cup host South Africa has completed all its preparations and the countdown has begun. The hotels are filled to overflowing. Soccer isn’t just soccer...

I personally don’t find it right that the World Cup should be given to any place outside Brazil, Argentina, or the Mediterranean countries of Europe. The countries of Africa, Asia or Northern Europe do not reflect football’s exciting aspects really well. Not only that but the crime rate in South Africa is rather high. Despite all that, I can’t help but ask myself how we forfeited our chance to don our star-and-crescent uniforms and travel down there. As for the  tournament, I’m rooting for Brazil as always. Among the players, everybody is talking about Messi, but I believe Inter’s Argentine center forward Milito is the man to watch.
Şansal Büyüka - Director Of Broadcasting, Lig tv

I went to South Africa last year as Interim General Secretary of the AIPS to tour the stadiums. I learned a lot about stadiums.A new, 2,500-km autobahn has been built for transportation. The stadiums are extremely modern. And the Johannesburg Chief of Police has said he will employ elephants and rhinos if necessary for security and has given FIFA a guarantee. I would recommend that anyone going to South Africa visit Soweto Township where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and try the local restaurants there.
Esat Yılmaer - President, Turkish Sports Writres Association (TSYD), Interim General Secretary/ Ceo, International Sports Press Association (AIPS)

The World Soccer Championship is the most important event in their career for the new talents who surface and the athletes who strut their stuff
Abdulkadir Keita - Ivory Coast

First of all, I wish all those who  are going to the World Cup good luck. I have toured Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sun City in South Africa. If you ask me, I would put Cape Town among the top five places I’d like to live in the world, hands down. It’s a very beautiful city.The seafood is magnificent. They’ve got the world’s number one lobster. I can’t say the same for Johannesburg. Still, you should see Kruger Park and Robin Island where Mandela was imprisoned. I would advise those who are going to the cup and who can afford it to rent a house in Cape Town and a chauffered car. As for the cup, World Cups are easier tournaments than the European Cup because there are weak teams from Africa, Central America and Asia. Frankly, I’m not expecting any big surprises.The championship contest will be between Europe’s strongest teams
and Brazil-Argentina.
Erman Toroğlu - Columnist, The Daily Hürriyet