Once in four years, the whole world becomes fixated over a month of football fiesta - which is now just over. But South Africa 2010 is definitely a memorable one - interesting matches, unexpected results and and unbelievable prediction of a famous psychic octopus!
Ever since my first World Cup in 1986, I have been hooked to the Beautiful Game. But funny thing is, I'm not a football fan per se. I don't follow EPL even.. BUT when it comes to the World Cup and international tournament like the European Championship. I am an ardent fan!
As in previous years, I was supporting Argentina and Italy (loyal as always..) but alas, the Italy team was a far shadow from that four years ago when they clinched the Cup, and was sadly kicked out in the first round. Meanwhile, the Argies, under the coaching of the charismatic Maradona, started off impressively but suffered a humiliated defeat in the quarter-final against Germany!
My heart was broken but of course, I watched on... and then I gradually fell in love with a team that combines great skills and flair (not mentioning sharing the same Latin root as two favourite teams) - yes, of course it is the Euro champion and our newest World Cup champion Espana!
I was elated when they beat the strong and sturdy Germany in the semi-finals and decided I would be rooting for them to win the final. They had not been scoring many goals but it's a feat for the eyes to watch them play..they had talented and some cute players too to boot! :p
So, the final saw the Netherlands versus Spain - a highly anticipated final as whoever wins, we would have a brand new World Cup winner!
(somehow I missed the closing ceremony on TV.. saw photos and it's indeed a colourful affair!)
Then the match itself.. which turned out to be quite a frustrating affair!
The first half was going nowhere.. basically the Dutch was just trying to stop Spain and by doing so committed tonnes of fouls and got many yellow cards. The rhythm of the game was rudely interrupted and both sides could not get their footing not mentioning scoring!
At the end of the night, only two of these Dutch players were not booked! And one received a red card.. what a shameful record!!'
Second half picked up speed and saw both sides creating more chances in the penalty areas. But still the goal eluded them.. and it remained goal-less at full time! We had to go into extra time.
I was already dreading and half-expecting a penalty shoot-out - just like four years ago, which would be such a damper for a World Cup final!
And then finally, shy of 3 minutes before the end of the extra time, just out of sudden, a brilliant Iniesta scored!! Dutch keeper Stekelenberg was beaten!
The goal came so late, but at such a brilliant timing that the Dutch just couldn't do anything about it. In fact, they looked so dejected and the last few mins both teams were just letting the time pass!
And yes, Spain won the World Cup for the first time ever! They were in a delirium and who could blame them? Spain goal-keeper Casillas was so overcharged with emotions that he covered his face and sobbed! And later, oas captain, he had the honour to lift the highly coveted Cup!
Congratulations to Spain! You're a well-deserved winner for sure!
Finally how could we forget Paul the psychic octopus? For the recent fortnight or so, this creature had been hogging the limelight as it had miraculous and accurately `predicted' the result of all the seven matches involving Germany (ya, his adopted home is Germany)
And then, for the first time, Paul also rightly predicted that Spain would win the World Cup!
It's a 8 out of 8 perfect record. What are the odds!?
So, adios to an exciting month of World Cup.. now, we would have to wait four years more to the great show in Brazil!