Round one is dead. Long live round two! So I think we can all agree that the first round of games at this World Cup was not quite what we hoped it would be. The first 16 games produced just 25 goals – the lowest number ever at that stage of a tournament – and only two involved more than two goals. For the past five days parking the bus has been in, joga bonito out.
But that’s old news now. Sean Ingle has systematically taken apart the myth that all opening rounds are this cagy over the past few days in his live blogs, but the hope remains that teams will begin to open up as they realise that sooner or later they will need to win games to progress.
For the record Even if there haven’t been many goals, I still agree wholeheartedly with the words of Paul Doyle in last night’s World Cup Daily: “It’s the World Cup, so even when it’s bad it’s good”.
Fantastic scenes … being shown on the Beeb of South Africa’s players belting out a song together as they come off the team bus at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. For the enthusiasm they have generated off the pitch, and that which they have played with on it, it is hard not to hope they progress at least to the first knock-out round.
Right then, some team news South Africa have made one change to the team that faced Mexico, with Tsepo Masilela in at left-back for Lucas Thwale (the same change was made at half-time in the opener). Uruguay have brought in Edinson Cavani, who is expected to start alongside Luis Suárez with Diego Forlán in behind.
South Africa: Khune, Gaxa, Mokoena, Khumalo, Masilela, Tshabalala, Dikgacoi, Letsholonyane, Modise, Pienaar, Mphela. Subs: Josephs, Ngcongca, Sibaya, Davids, Booth, Thwala, Parker, Nomvethe, Moriri, Sangweni, Khuboni, Walters.
Uruguay: Muslera, Maxi Pereira, Lugano, Godín, Fucile, Arévalo Rios, Pérez, Pereira, Suárez, Forlán, Cavani. Subs: Castillo, Gargano, Victorino, Eguren, Abreu, González, Scotti, Alvaro Fernández, Sebastián Fernández, Cáceres, Silva.
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)
The BBC have a man in the local cinema Which is not a particularly strange place to watch a World Cup match – my local Picturehouse is showing games – but for some reason got me to thinking about where would be the least likely place you could watch a World Cup game. Anyone got any suggestions?
They’re in the tunnel And the South African players are singing again. There should be more of this. Genuinely.
And now the anthems “I love the Uruguay anthem,” says Ben Reynolds. “It makes a fool of the cameraman who thinks he’s timed his little walk to perfection only for them to actually start singing.” It truly is an epic opening instrumental. But I’ve always liked the way South Africa’s builds up to maximum shoutiness towards the end.
1 min Away we go then. Both coaches have promised a more attacking approach. Not that South Africa looked too defensive in the opener …
2 min Suárez is the first man to be flagged for offside. Mark Schlink is the first man to respond to my “strange places to watch a World Cup game” question. “Not long ago, I’d have had to say the USA,” pootles Mark. “But thankfully that’s changing. Even my grandmother asked about it.”
3 min South Africa win a free-kick about 25-yards out and close to the left-hand touchline and the delivery is swung in towards the head of Mphela, but he is beaten to it by Gaxa, who heads behind for a corner to the hosts …
4 min … Once again Mphela is the target and this time he is able to leap unchallenged on the edge of the six-yard box, but mistimes his jump and winds up watching the ball bounce off his shoulder before Uruguay clear.
5 min Uruguay race down the other end and win a free-kick not far from the edge of the D, which Forlán immediately claims. He cannons his effort straight into the first man, which isn’t really that surprising since Pienaar had rushed out about two-thirds of the distance to the striker before he took the set-piece. Pienaar gets a booking and we’ll have a re-take.
6 min And this one deflects away off Tshabalala, who had not encroached at all.
7 min Forlán receives the ball from a throw-in and opens his body to slide a neat little ball into Suárez attacking the left-hand corner of the six-yard box, but the striker hammers his effort wide of the near post. I think Uruguay have already had more shots in this target than they and France managed between them in their first game.
8 min And now Suárez fires wide of the same upright again. They’ve started well and – true to their coach’s word – with much more attacking intent. “I once watched an Italy World Cup game while getting a shave from an Italian barber,” says Dave Webb. “Don’t know about unlikely, but certainly unwise. Thankfully, they drew. I suspect either a win or a loss might have cost me my life.”
10 min Oscar Tabárez is bounding around his technical area gesticulating like a mad ‘un. The vuvuzelas, even by the high standards set at this tournament, are loud.
12 min South Africa finally manage to get hold of the ball for a few seconds but don’t manage to carry it outside of their own half. It should be pointed out that all things being equal they really should lose this match – they are ranked 83rd in Fifa’s world rankings, while Uruguay are 16th. But then again, Mexico are 17th.
13 min A roar erupts from the crowd as Gaxa seizes on a loose ball and attemps to barrel forward down the right, but Alvaro Pereira – out of position as he was for so much of Uruguay’s opening fixture, manages to recover.
14 min More possession for South Africa but this time it ends with Tshabalala crushing the ball a very long way over the bar from a good 35 yards out. Goal in the opener gone to his head perchance? “Judging by some of the attendances in this World Cup so far, I would say that one of the most unlikely places from which to watch a match would be from inside the stadium,” sniggers Chris Ballard.
16 min And now Tshabalala tries his luck again – albeit with a sidefooted curling effort and only from only the edge of the D this time – with much the same result. Pienaar is livid and rightly so – he was in yards of space on the left and the pass outside would have been a far better option.
18 min Lethsolonyane is beginning to boss things in the middle of the park for South Africa and he sets Modise on his way into the Uruguay half only for the winger to be brought down a few yards from the right-hand corner of the box. Free-kick coming up …
19 min … Tshabalala lofts an outswinger over to the back post where it is headed back across the six-yard box, but then cleared. Lively game so far.
20 min “I was the only Irishman among 18 Sicilian friends in a Dutch univerisity residence during the Ireland v Italy match in 1994, when Houghton scored,” says Seamus O’Sullivan in response to our ‘strangest places riff. “I was also the only one dancing like a loon … Amazingly, they were gracious in defeat, I thought I was a dead man.”
22 min Quiet couple of minutes as South Africa see a lot of the ball but once again seem to be struggling to move it out of their half. Uruguay periodically get hold but always seem to quickly return it.
23 min And now Suárez stings the palms of Khune with a piledriver from about 12 yards out on the right.
GOAL! South Africa 0-1 Uruguay (Forlán 24 min) A goal out of nowhere for Diego Forlán, who didn’t look to be in a particularly menacing position five or six yards outside the box, but the centre-backs failed to close him down and the striker unleashed a savage shot that I think deflects off a defender before flying over Khune then dipping into the net. Stunning.
26 min Time to see what South Africa are really made of, I guess – they were in the fortunate position of scoring first against Mexico but now they have to come from behind against a team with significant international pedigree. Uruguay may not be too unhappy to let them attack and look to hit on the counter-attack.
28 min South Africa’s initial attempts to react are thwarted and Uruguay again come streaming into the hosts’ half, but Pérez’s cross from the right floats over everyone’s heads and out for a goal-kick on the far side.
30 min The goal definitely did deflect off a defender by the way, and it was Mokoena, on the subject of whom I’ve just received this email. “Back in the day when Mokoena was at Blackburn the Rovers fans had my favourite chant ever – to the tune of Macarena,” says John FitzGibbon. “His name’s Mokoena, put his name on your shirt/it’ll cost you a tenner won’t see him score cause he’s a defenda/ ehhhhh Mokoena. I always smile and remember that chant when I see him play just like tonight.”
32 min Suárez darts past Kumalo inside the box and hammers a shot into the side netting. He probably would have been better off looking to cut the ball back to Cavani in the middle, but from what I’ve seen so far Suárez doesn’t look like a man who believes in that sort of thing.
34 min South Africa win a corner on the right but once again the delivery is cleared without too much trouble by Uruguay. They seem a thousand times more relaxed since the goal and unfortunately it has taken a bit of the edge out of the game.
36 min Another South Africa attack comes to nought as Tshabalala’s cross from the left eludes everyone, though referee Massimo Busacca did miss Modise being rather cynically taken out off the ball on the far side.
37 min Incidentally, I believe Forlán’s goal is the first one from outside the area in this tournament that didn’t involve a goalkeeping howler …
40 min Modise pushes forward down the right before swivelling to roll the ball back for Gaxa, who loops an outswinging cross all the way over to the far corner of the six-yard box. Mphela manages to get up above his marker but can’t get his effort on target.
41 min Generally speaking, the South African central midfield pairing of Lethsolonyane and Dikgacoi have dominated that part of the field, but Uruguay have been far more penetrating down the wings and Forlán has been exceptional whenever they have managed to get the ball to him. He’s the difference between the two teams and not only because of his goal.
42 min As soon as I compliment Dikgacoi, of course, he crashes straight into the back of Suárez on the half-way line and earns himself a booking that will keep him out of South Africa’s final group game.
44 min Arévalo thunders a first-time effort over the South African bar from at least 25 yards after the ball broke loose from a challenge in front of him.
Peepety-peep! We’re getting zero injury time, so that’s it for the first half. A high-tempo game and generally enjoyable, but I fear Uruguay’s goal may have taken the sting out of it. Back in a tick with half-time emails.
Another take on round one “I disagree with your pre-game assessment Paolo – it’s been a great first round,” says Amit Gupta. “Japan, led by a Honda, beats the overpaid whiners from the Cameroons. New Zealand get a point of Slovakia and Winston Reid bares enough to get a yellow card. North Korea gave Brazil a tight game and Switzerland beating Spain!”
Anthem authorship “So…how do you get the gig to write a new national anthem,” asks Andrew Palin. “It would be great to write a long, meandering and dull dirge, or one in Looney Tunes style, to then have the world listen to it every world cup and Olympics.” Erm, I think at this stage you probably have to form a new country to be honest Andrew.
Strange place to watch World Cup games (cont.) “I remember one enterprising strip club advertising World Cup games in Orlando in 1994, when soccer was still a guilty pleasure in the US,” writes Justin Kavanagh. “How mainstream it’s become in 2010, with giant screens in city centres and folks getting their kit on in public.”
46 min And away they go again at Loftus Versfeld stadium. No changes from either team. “I hope Frank Lampard is watching this and noting that the only way to get dip on long range shots is through deflections,” says Eddy Nelson. “He’s had enough practice, even if it isn’t with the Jabulani.”
47 min Slightly bitty start to the second half, with the teams exchanging fouls in the middle of the park. South Africa are going to need to show they can not only win the ball here but create in the final third if they are going to get back into this.
48 min First chance of the half falls to Uruguay, as Suárez jinks his way past Gaxa on the right before cutting a low ball back towards Cavani attacking the six-yard box. The Palermo striker’s shot is blocked almost before it leaves his boot.
49 min And now Suárez is heading off for treatment after taking an arm to the face from Gaxa down by the goalline on the left. He actually wanted to stay on but he was bleeding from the mouth quite a lot. Looked not unlike Tom Williams in rugby union’s Bloodgate, in fact. Only with actual blood.
50 min Forlán’s subsequent free-kick from the left is easily cleared.
51 min Well Suárez is back on – seemingly just holding a piece of tissue paper between his lips – and no sooner has he made it back on to the pitch than he’s being brought down by a clums challenge from Khumalo as he cuts into the area from the right. The referee waves it away. Replays suggest it was a foul – but just outside the box.
53 min Forlán fizzes another free-kick into the 18-yard box from the left and this time Lugano rises totally unmarked to meet it by the penalty spot – only to bend over too far and have the ball travel over his head and ping off the curve of his back. It’s knocked behind for a corner …
54 min … which comes to nothing.
56 min “Is it not madness Forlán taking free kicks,” asks Anthony O’Connell. “He should be in the box on the end of them.” Whilst I see where you’re coming from Anthony, he’s also quite good at taking them.
57 min First substitution of the game, as Letsholonyane comes off to be replaced by Surprise Moriri. Fair enough – he’d had a decent game but South Africa haven’t been dominating the middle this half like they were at times in the first.
58 min Gaxa continues to push relentlessly up the right flank, but his delivery hasn’t been good enough and he pumps another cross from deep out for a goal-kick on the far side. More invention still desperately needed.
60 min “Andrew Palin does not necessarily need a new country to write a new anthem,” points out Ronan Byrne. “As all of Ireland plays together for rugby, they decided to stop making the northern players listen to the Republic’s Anthem and came up with a new one, a very PC ‘Ireland’s Call’ which is belted out by all and sundry. Have him ask Phil Coulter how he got the gig.”
61 min Lugano is up again to meet a Forlán set-piece – this time a corner from the right – but once again he misjudges it and the ball flicks off his shoulders to Cavani, who has his shot charged down at the back post.
63 min The Moriri for Letsholonyane change hasn’t had much of an impact so far. We haven’t seen much of the former and the pattern of the game remains much the same.
64 min Dikgacoi really should get a second yellow card there after a very reckless challenge on Fucile, but the referee Busacca seems to have missed it. Fucile receving treatment.
66 min Oooh – a real chance for South Africa there as Mphela beats Muslera to a cross just in front of the near post but can’t direct his header on target. He wants a corner and replays suggest the ball may indeed have brushed off the keeper’s fingers – though it was going wide anyway – but the referee’s having none of it.
67 min “The Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan is apparently on the look out for a new national anthem,” says Robert Henson in response to Andrew Palin’s half-time query. “It is in the transitional constitution that they must get one.”
68 min A real chance goes begging for Uruguay, as Forlán picks Cavani out with a perfectly-placed centre from the left but from by just by the penalty spot the Palermo striker scuffs his effort wide. South Africa break swiftly but Modise shoots straight at Muslera.
69 min Fusile is down again after a rather more innocuous challenge in the middle of the park but this time it looks as though his game may be over, as the stretcher is already on to collect him.
70 min Alvaro Fernández is on to replace Fusile.
71 min Cavani wastes another half-chance for Uruguay, walloping a half-volley roughly 30 yards over the goal from a few yards outside the penalty area.
72 min The vuvuzelas have gone up another notch as South Africa win a free-kick in a dangerous position on the left. It fails to clear the wall but Pienaar seizes on a loose ball to crash in another drive that is deflected behind for a corner …
73 min … but sadly it’s whisked right over the danger area and bounces away on the far side. The set-pieces haven’t been good enough for South Africa.
76 min Penalty to Uruguay! And Khune has been sent off! That might just be the end of this game as a competitive encounter. Suárez, who had seen a close-range shot saved by the Khune moments earlier, is brought down by outstretched boot of the South Africa goalkeeper as he tries to cut across the six-yard area. South Africa believe Suárez was offside when the ball was played back to him after the initial save, but the flag stayed down and he was certainly caught by the goalkeeper.
78 min Replays show Suárez was onside. The right decision from Busacca, much as it feels cruel.
79 min Moneeb Josephs, after taking some time to lace up his boots and get the gloves on, is on to replace the dismissed Khune. Pienaar is the player substituted to make room for him. Forlán will take the penalty
GOAL! South Africa 0-2 Uruguay (Forlán pen 80 min) Well there’s not a lot you can do about that – an absolutely superb penalty, dispatched straight into the top left-hand corner of the net by Forlán. No chance for Josephs to stop it.
82 min For a few seconds after that goal, the vuvuzelas fell truly silent and you could hear the Uruguayan fans going crazy. They’re back now, but rather more half-heartedly – and the TV cameras are showing the first sets of South Africa fans heading for the exit.
84 min There should be a decent chunk of injury time at the end of this – there was a good three-minute wait just for Josephs to come on after the penalty was awarded – but you can’t see South Africa getting back into this now. It was hard enough to see them scoring one to be honest – getting two on ten men is several leaps too far.
85 min Gaxa takes a tumble in the area after brushing up against a Uruguayan defender but it’s an incredibly hopeful appeal and to be honest he’s probably lucky not to get a booking for what could be construed as a dive.
86 min “Parreira misuses the few good players he has, never bringing on parker and then playing piennar out of position,” rails Patrick Mwebaze.”As they say, he does not seem to have a plan b! It’s no surprise he hasn’t won a World Cup game since 1994.”
87 min Cavani, not for the first time tonight, wastes a half-chance for Uruguay – this time clipping a low effort softly to the keeper from the edge of the D.
89 min And now Cavani comes off, to be replaced by Sebastian Fernández.
90 min Cavani is swiftly followed off by Pérez, with Walter Gargano coming on.
90 min +1 “It doesn’t matter a jot now, but Suárez was offside,” insists Jameson Blanchard. “From the initial shot it was on, but there was a second touch from Cavani that made it off. Don’t expect a ref to see that, but look again on Tivo and it’s offside.” Couldn’t see that on the replays we’ve been shown so far here Jameson, but you may well be right.
GOAL! South Africa 0-3 Uruguay (A Pereira, 90 min +4) One last nail in the coffin, just for good measure. Forlán whips the ball across the area from the left to Suárez on the far side and he clips it back into the middle of the six yard box to Alvaro Pereira, who bundles it in from close range. Cruel on South Africa, but not entirely unmerited for Uruguay.
Full-time That’s your lot from Loftus Versfeld stadium, and perhaps that’s also your lot from South Africa at this tournament. They have one more game, of course, against France, but they will have to win that to have any chance now and, depending how the other remaining games pan out, may need to do so by a number of goals. It was sad to see the energy drain out of the stadium at the end but Uruguay were the classier side and well worth their win. On this evidence, they may yet have the potential to go somewhere in this tournament. We hope, of course, that the hosts’ slip doesn’t detract from what has been a fantastic atmosphere at this tournament so far, but at least you can say that the second round of games has opened with goals (even one from outside the area) and some very enjoyable football. That’s it from me, sorry I couldn’t use more of your emails but I will give the last word to Nicholas Einhorn, who writes: “First Fulham in the Europa League, now South Africa – Forlán is singlehandedly out to destroy great sports stories. Watch out at Wimbledon, Andy Murray.”
Diego Forlán was born on May 19th, 1979 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Forlan
5 + 19 +2+0+1+0 = 27 = his personal year (from May 19th, 2010 to May 18th, 2011)
27 year + 5 (May) = 32 = his personal month (from May 19th, 2010 to June 18th, 2010) = Winning. Victory. Triumph. Champion. Mighty. Glory. Pride. First place. Number 1. The greatest. The best.