The 2010 FIFA World Cup football standards has been seen by many as below par. That is as ill-informed informed as people who first criticised the ball Jabulani because they perceived it to be a South African product, or those who waste their energy on anti-vuvuzela campaigns because the hear the buzz on Television.
By now, you know Germany’s Adidas made the ball for FIFA and you saw how the Maanshaft scored with that ball. Crazy enough, the ball was made a year before the World Cup and no league bothered to enforce the use of the ball. South Africa had to use it in the last few games. Next time Associations make sponsorship deals with their ball suppliers, there must be a provision to use a World Cup ball in the year of the World Cup. The Vuvuzela issue, learn to blow one and you are addicted.
There was so much improvement upwards in the game that those who watched the matches with their hearts and bias to their Superpower teams missed out. In comparison to other tournaments, the gap between the best in the world and the minnows was so huge that matches would be one-sided, making obvious entertainment to an ordinary fan.
In this year’s tournament, one needs to look at the Asians teams in particular. They made it difficult for big brothers of the game to play, not by shaolin football of the Dutch, but by raised technical and tactical standards. Korea DPR made Brazil look very ordinary, losing 1-2. Japan almost got to the quarter-final, losing in a penalty shoot-out. South Korea gave excellent performances they can be proud of. New Zealand are the only team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup that did not lose a match. Incredible indeed.
If you look at how the small teams squeezed the results and ejecting big footballing nations off the driving seats, you understand how much of age they have come. Champions Italy, Brazil, Argentina, USA, France and England clearly meant business in their qualifiers until they arrived in Mzansi, but so did Ghana, Japan, Switzerland, Korea DPR and New Zealand.
With light weight Uruguay getting into the top 4, Diego Forlan, and not Messi or Ronaldo getting the Golden Ball and Asamoah Gyan of Ghana out-shooting all strikers are some of the things that must make one think about the level of competition.
When the standards improve, the small nations move up to catch up with those who had monopolised the game for so long. The fact that two teams that had never won the World Cup played the final is another testimony of the high standards of football. It would be nice to see the revolution of football especially in Africa forging ahead.
Where do you think the Asians got it right and what can Africa do to match the Ghana performance?