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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

They Got Game

The World Cup is drawing to an end and here I am just starting to write about it.
Busy? Well, kinda. For the last couple of weeks. But not that busy. Just...well, malas. To tell you the truth, I haven't been keeping an eye on the World's Greatest Show as I would have liked. I missed a lot of the 1st round games and a few of the good matches during the knockout stage. But as I came home after finishing my 6-month merry-go-round, I booked my seat for the quarter-finals. It's never too late for the World Cup, isn't it?
I am always in awe of the World Cup. There's just something about it that makes it the most watched event in the entire universe. And it never fails to do so. I read an article recently by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan on how he envies the World Cup. As most of you would know, FIFA has more members than the UN. That's quite a statement on football being the world's favourite game.
Be it Jerantut to Delhi, Bali to Zimbabwe, everyone can relate to the World Cup. And the most beautiful thing about it, is that only 32 nations take part and yet the world takes attention like it's the world's fair. A carnival of people, culture and the sport itself. I should know best because this great country of ours have never, ever qualified. And yet, we stay up till early dawn to watch some grown-up Mat Salleh weeping tears. Such is the intensity and passion of this tournament.
With the semi-finals coming up tonight, you can bet your Copa Mundials I'm staying up to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed the quarter-finals even though England lost. Say what you want about England, but they will always remain my sentimental team. I know that they suck, but my heart usually goes out to them. I guess the overdose of EPL football since a young age has taken its toll on me.
I get a bit sentimental (yes, us men do over football) when I recall that this will be the last World Cup for many stars who I have grown up with over the years. None more than the great Zidane who put on a masterclass act against the Brazilians. Others include Roberto Carlos, Figo, Beckham (it just felt like yesterday when he was sent off against Argentina) and even Ronaldo might be in his final World Cup.
As usual, World Cups are always about prediction, so here I go:

Germany vs. Italy
Germany because One: They impress me with their style of play. No more boring techincal Germans of the past. Two: Juergen Klinsmann was one of my childhood heroes. I think it started with him playing for Spurs. I think he's doing an excellent job, bringing an American approach to his coaching. Three: It's their home turf, dagnabbit!! Plus, I've never liked Italy's style of play either. Who the hell watches Serie A? *Yawn*

France vs. Portugal
For sentimental reasons, I would love for France to win. A fitting farewell to the great legend miseur Zizou. But realistically, I think Portugal can pull it off. For one reason only: Luiz Felipe Scolari. He's a master tactician and it's England's loss that he rejected coaching for them. This one's gonna be a cracker.

So there you have it. Stone's prediction for the World Cup. FYI, I really suck in predicting games so don't bet your mortgage on it. See you in the Final!

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