Damn Brazil, that was close. Too close if you’re serious about winning this World Cup of yours.
I will say I kinda called it yesterday, but boy what a reaction there would have been on Copacabana Beach if Chile had won that shoot-out. Or if Pinilla’s shot had hit the underside of the cross bar and gone in rather than hitting it flush and bouncing away. It is a game of such, such fine margins now and we could quite easily have seen Chile in the quarter-finals rather than the hosts and no-one would have been able to begrudge them that.
Brazil just do not have the look of world champions about them. I’ve already touched on their weaknesses and I honestly think, now we’re getting to the business end, someone will ruthlessly expose them. When that happens we’ll have 1950 all over again. This tournament was supposed to be all about exorcising those demons for this football crazed country. Unfortunately this crop of players just don’t look good enough to be able to do that.
One crop of players that do look the goods at the moment are those from Colombia. Not only do they seem to have nailed the concept of teamwork they also have the new golden boy of the tournament – James (Ha-Mez) Rodriguez. His first goal today was Special (yes, with a capital S. It was that good).
Colombia looked in control and one wonders how much of an effect Luis Suarez would have had. I’m sure Uruguay would have had more thrust going forward, particularly when Colombia backed off a bit when they were 2-0 up, but we’ll never really know. Uruguay have Suarez alone to blame for that. His selfish actions left his team with no chance of winning.
For the rest of us, though, we have Colombia and the incredible prospect of them taking on Brazil for a spot in the semi-finals.
This afternoon I took the family across to Rotorua. It was a lovely winter’s afternoon so we went to Kuirau Park and the kids had a play on the equipment before we walked around the mud pools for a bit. After that we headed back a bit to Stembridge Road in Ngongotaha for Ngongotaha AFC’s ASB Chatham Cup 4th round match against Melville United.
Like the games in the morning, this was a round of 16 match, but the settings couldn’t have been more of a contrast. It was knock-out, with the winner advancing and the loser bowing out (for those who don’t know, the Chatham Cup is New Zealand’s nationwide knock-out cup competition). For Ngongotaha, playing in New Zealand’s club football’s 4th tier, to make it this far is a great story. That they beat a club near the top of winter’s second tier, away from home, in the last round was special.
Melville also play in the second tier and they also made the semis of the Chatham Cup last year, so it was obvious who was favoured to win. But this is cup football and, with the playing surface proving to be a great leveller, anything could have happened. That’s not how it started though. Melville scored once during the first half and hit the woodwork three times. All they play was in Ngongotaha’s half of the field. While it looked difficult to play decent football, Melville seemed to be coping well enough.
Then three minutes after the break Ngongotaha came out and scored. 1-1! For 20 minutes it was end to end stuff with both keepers busy, before the stronger team eventually began to wear the weaker team down. Melville eventually scored a cracking goal that turned out to be the winner but endured a nervous finish.
It was a classic cup encounter and although it wasn’t exactly like watching football at the Maracana it was just as entertaining, in a rustic, grass roots kind of a way. A good way to end the weekend.
Score picking update
I’m maintaining a comfortable lead at the top of the BFWCSPC and only a complete disaster would see me lose now…
Picks for Day 18
Netherlands 2-1 Mexico, Costa Rica 1-0 Greece.