Sunday, June 13, 2010

Waka Waka - FIFA World Cup 2010...lets drool

11th June 2010 & Billions across the world watched in joyful aniticipation, as the 19th edition of the World Cup football got on its way at the Soccer Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, amidst the near deafening buzz sound of Vuvuzel, the favourite stadium horn of the Proteas.
The opening ceremony had an emotional begining as the President Jacob Zuma spoke, "The time for Africa has come. It has arrived", which sent the packed capacity to a dancing frenzy & vuvuzela decibels kept going up. Later, the gorgeous Shakira, set everyone in the stadium on a hip swaying tizzy to "Waka Waka", the official song of the FIFA World Cup.
Zakumi, the official mascot, is a anthropomorphised leapord, with green hair & a yellow body, representing the host nation's playing colours - yellow & green. Zakumi's official motto is : "Zakumi's game is Fair Play".

 The frenzy, the fever at the stadium was palpable, as the hosts took on Mexico in the tournament opener. And as destiny would have designed, the opening goal of the tournament came in the 55th minute of the match, for the rejoicing host nation, as midfielder Tshabalala slotted in a rasping left footed drive past the Mexican goalie. The hooting into vuvuzel was deafening, as the South African players broke into a loveable twist dance on the sidelines, as if they had aleady lifted te Cup. Some semblence was restored later as the gritty Mexicans managed to equalise towards the later part of the match.

The tournament has 32 nations vying for the most sought after Cup in the sporting arena. The pre tournament favourites are Brazil & Spain, with England, Argentina, Germany & Italy dribbling close.
Brazil, under the coaching of Dunga, are not their flamboyant self this time, missing the mercurial Ronaldinho, but look very solid in defence & discipline. With Kaka, Robinho & Fabiano upfront & a very formidable defence, they still look like Champions.
Spain, the underperformers over the years, look very very strong this time around, with Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, Pique, Pedro, Casillas in dream form, its now or never for them.
England, despite losing Beckham to injury, look very strong. With Rooney, Gerard, Lampard, Cole, Terry & others, under the coaching of Capello, they are a capable unit. But, if their opening encounter with US, which ended in a 1-1 draw is any indication, I dont see the team going through to lift the Cup.
Argentina, this time has laboured to qualify for the tournament, & under the coaching of Maradona, have struggled. Their opening game against Nigeria, which they won 1-0, has not inspired confidence. Messi, the best player in the world today, was noticable only in patches & was a far cry from his demolishing mesmerising form in Barcalona, just a while ago. Maradona, in the sidelines was his usual vocal & passionate self, as if dearly wanting to enter the green turf donning the light blue & white stripes to captivate the world with his ball play, that had got his country their second World Cup in 1986. Lets hope for the sake of the game that Messi is able to soak some of Maradona magic & cast his own beautiful football for his country.
Germany has lost its star player, Ballack to injury a few days ago, but is a strong contender with Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose, Mertesacker etc, playing for pride as they always do.
Italy, the reigning champions, look a jaded & an ageing lot. They dont seem to have the firepower to go the distance, though they have always been a strong contender always.

The match ball of the tounament is being manufactured by Adidas, & is named, Jabulani, meaning " bringing joy to everyone" in isiZulu. The number eleven plays a prominent role in the new technologically advanced ball : it is the eleventh World Cup match ball made by the German sports equipment maker; it features eleven colours, one for each player on the pitch; and there are eleven official languages in South Africa. A special match ball with gold panels will be used at the finals to be held at the Soccer Stadium in Johannesburg. Interestingly, the balls are made in China, using latex bladder made in India, thermoplastic polyurethane-elastomer from Taiwan, ethylene vinyl acetate, isotropic polyester/cotton fabric, glue and ink from China.
The ball, has however not been well accepted, especially the goalkeepers, saying that it has a tendency to swerve too much in the air, making the gripping very difficult.

I also bumped into another very interesting information, which I believe is an excellent move towards global eco friendly environment. This will be the first time that all of Nike’s national teams, including Brazil, Portugal, and the Netherlands, will be wearing jerseys made from recycled polyester, which the sports-apparel giant is hailing as the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced kits in football history. These jerseys are made from discarded plastic bottles, harvested from landfills in Japan & Taiwan, that were melted down into yarn & then spun into fabric.
With the recycled jerseys, Nike has diverted nearly 13 million plastic bottles from the landfill. Each shirt comprises up to eight recycled plastic bottles, a move that reduces energy consumption by up to 30 percent compared with manufacturing virgin polyester. Besides saving raw materials, Nike also diverted nearly 13 million plastic bottles (or nearly 560,000 pounds of polyester waste) from the landfill—enough to cover more than 29 football pitches.
If the recycled bottles used to produce the jerseys were laid end to end, according to Nike, they would span more than 3,000 kilometers (roughly 1,860 miles), a distance that exceeds the entire South African coastline. Wow...isnt this simply amazing ?? How do you say “amazing” in all the players’ languages???.....
Another example of what human brain can achieve if focussed towards creativity rather than mindless destruction. Hats off !!

There are ten beautiful stadiums that have been set up by the host nation for this tournament. Soccer City at Johannesburg(capacity 94,700), Moses Mabhida Stadium at Durban(capacity 70,000), Cape Town Stadium at Cape Town(capacity 69,070), Ellis Park Stadium at Johannesburg(capacity 62,567), Loftus Versfeld Stadium at Pretoria(capacity 51,760), Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at Port Elizabeth(capacity 48.459), Free State Stadium at Bloemfontein(capacity 48,000), Peter Makaba Stadium at Polokwane(capacity 46,000), Royal Bakofeng Stadium at Rustenburg(capacity 44,530) & Mbombela Stadium at Nelspruit(capacity 43,589).

With whatever little I understand of this game, I see Brazil taking on England & Spain taking on Argentina in the last four stage, unless there are some serious upsets midway. I dont see past champion teams like France, Uruguay, posing any serious threats, but there are teams like Holland, Denmark, Portugal, Serbia, who could spring a surprise & spoil the party of the top contenders.
Most of good matches are at a time, when its midnight in India & therefore, like me, there would be tens of thousands who would keep awake over the next one month to be glued to the screens of our TV sets & feel drowsy next day. But, I guess, its worth the effort to watch this beautiful game, which takes place once in four years.
Another interesting news is that Indian music composer duo, Salim & Suleiman Merchant(Chak De fame), have collaborated with South African singers Loyiso Bala & Eric Wainaina to record the anthem for the FIFA Cup 2010. This is indeed a proud achievement for all Indians, on making a meaningful confribution to this World sporting extravaganza.

The tournament had worrying shadows of terror attacks, but lets pray, nothing untoward happens. Let the most popular game in the world do justice to its top billing & enthall the world with some super ball play & fair play. While, my heart would always be with Brazil to dance to the Samba beat & lift the cup on 11th July, may the best team win, while we lose some sleep & soak in the buzzing decibels of Vuvuzel.


Surinder said...

Adidas says, Zakumi's official motto is : "Zakumi's game is Fair Play".
But adidas cheated a 16 year old boy from Kolkata ( The capital city of Football) in the name of "FIFA 2010 Fair play flag bearer."
The reason is better known to them but you can judge how it happened from this video and the comments posted on it.