Claude Arpi captures the fan's passion for football in these entertaining e-mails to Ivan Crasto, Rediff.com's Sports Editor.
Read Claude's first e-mail
His 5th: Revolution is a French sport
His 6th: World Cup balls
The 7th: Why is refreeing so poor in the World Cup?
His 8th: The sinking of Old Europe
The 9th: Did you see the most ridiculous goal of the competition?
His 10th: Germany have their revenge, finally
His 11th: Brazil is Brazil and will hopefully remain Brazil
His 12th: Cristiano Ronaldo, a shadow of his old self
Our well-deserved two-day pause is over. Passion, rage, penalties and tears; what emotions last night! But before coming to those exciting moments, I wanted to tell you that I regret that Sid, your correspondent did not offer Arsene Wenger a job in India. He is a great coach and a good person. I have been pleading for years to have him as the French national coach, but nobody listens to me (sigh)! He could certainly bring India to the top of Asian football (would Indian politicians allow to coach freely? Not sure!).
No samba anymore! It is a bit sad, I like the samba, but unfortunately it lasted during the first half only. After ten minutes, I thought that was it.
A first refused goal on a tiny off-side and a couple of minutes later Robinho, served from the median line by Felipe Melo found no problem in tricking Dutch goalie Stekelenburg. It is true that there was a gross misreading by the two Oranje players who saw Robinho off-side. The first half continued in the same vein.
Who could have imagined the forthcoming scenario at the break? Only some unconditional Oranje fans, which I was not.
The turn of the match came at the 53th minute and again, it was due to a monumental blunder by the defence (Brazilian this time): on a free-kick played by Robben, Felipe Melo and the keeper Julio Cesar competed for the ball and it was finally Melo who scored the self-goal. This gave a kick to Bert Van Marwijk's team and fifteen minutes later, on a corner kick, Kuyt not well guarded by the seleção defence, sent a header into the net. That was it.
An entire nation can continue to dream of doing better that Cruijff's men in 1974 or Neeskens' in 1978. For the Oranje, it was a good revenge for the quarter-finals of 1994 when Brazil eliminated the Dutch team.
And for the late-night match, we had an enthralling Africa vs South America (all the quarters have a South American team). A truly intense match, with lots of occasions on both sides. Do you know my theory?
I believed that the first scorer during this competition would automatically make it to the next round. For the first time, I was (twice) proved wrong last night. The Brazilians were sailing towards the semis after 10 minutes as were the Ghafana Ghafana (new name for the players supported by an entire continent) scored by Muntari just before the pause. Had I been right, they would have qualified for the semis. But it was without counting on Forlan and his magic free-kick who equalized soon after the return from the dressing rooms. It went beautifully till the end of the 90 minutes with the Celeste and the Black Stars playing great football.
And then the extra-time and a dramatic end. Could a script writer have dreamt of such a conclusion? Perhaps subconsciously the Ghanaians knew that they had to avoid the penalty shoot-out; they threw all their energies into the last minute and it nearly paid. On a free-kick shot from inside the box, Suarez stooped a first Ghanaian shot on the line, then Adiyiah's head takes the direction of the net, this time Suarez blocked it with his hand. That could have been the end for Uruguay as Suarez gets a red card and Ghana a penalty.
But Gyan puts it on the bar. The Gods have spoken, No Ghafana Ghafana in the semis. An entire continent is crying and we share a few tears with them.
I have been emailing you about the 'globalization' of the competition with the entire planet participating in the South African event. I have sometimes a tendency to get carried away by the 'universalist' aspect of the sport, but we have to admit that there is the opposite side to the coin (I have not yet come across a coin with only one side, have you?).
The other aspect is exacerbated nationalism. This will probably be explained by philosophers or sociologists as 'unity in diversity'. It is true, that since the end the last World War, various groupings of States have flourished; apart from the terribly boring United Nations, you have the European Union (also rather dull), the ASEAN, the BRIC, the BASIC, the APEC, the SCO and even the totally inefficient SAARC. There are so many that one forgets the meanings of their acronyms (one is often not even interested to know their meaning). Despite these planetary movements, the Nation-States remain the real thing.
Having lived most of my life in an international milieu, I usually don't realize how strongly 'nationalism' is anchored, rooted in each one of our psyche. If I come across an Italian or German or Spanish friend on the road, no need to ask him the score of 'his' or 'her' match (in case I did not know), I can read it on his/her face. Normally sweet and mild people become so chauvinist just because a small jabulani has not crossed their adversaries' line. This morning, I am sure good 'friends' will tell me that Gyan missed the penalty (after Suarez' hand) because he plays in Rennes in France. Perhaps the 'French sign'! But, c'est le sport!
Let us just hope that this 'intense' nationalism remains limited tosports events only.
With tearful vuvuzelas
PS: Do you know what type of dance is practiced by the Dutch?
Tonight will we get an Argentinean tango or a German Waltz?