South Africa used to be a nation full with racism and discrimination. Nelson Mandela was prisoned for a long period for trying to free his nation from those negativities. The historic moment for South Africa was when Nelson Mandela wore the South Africa national rugby team’s jersey during a rugby match and paraded the rugby pitch. The Springboks jersey once was exclusive only for the white people. That moment simply marked the end of Apartheid era.
Tonight, it will be another historic moment for South Africa as the FIFA World Cup 2010 will kick off. 32 nations travel to South Africa in their quest to become the world champion. It is the highest football tournament after all. Pavel Nedved, when awarded with Ballon d’Or said, he prefers the ticket to the world cup for his country rather than claiming the award.
The favourites will definitely be Brazil, Spain and England. As for England, this is their best chance to win the world cup. In Fabio Capello, they have someone who could deliver results when it matters. England may suffer a bit with the loss of David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand but in my opinion, given the record of Capello’s coaching career he knows how to utilise the players at his disposal. And let us not forget Capello is the man who solve the long-debated Gerrard-Lampard partnership.
Spain without doubt got the best line-up of players for the world cup. The squad is very balance in each department and possesses a good team chemistry. Only lapses and complacent would prevent Spain from claiming another major championship after Euro 2008 triumph. Plus, history proves that the favourite team would always fail to live up to the expectations, just ask Brazil of 2006 world cup and France and Argentina in 2002 world cup.
I am also eager to watch how Argentina will fair during this tournament. Diego Maradona is a legend as a player but I doubt whether he could have the same stature in his coaching career. I think he put his head on the chopping board earlier berfore the world cup starts when he named his 23-man squad for the world cup. He left Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, treble winners with Internazionale to accommodate places for Jonas Gutierrez who only won Coca-Cola championship with Newcastle United. Maybe Coca-Cola championship medal is more stylish compared to Champions League medal. Should Argentina fail miserably in this world cup, Diego Maradona will be the first to be blame for another dissappointment.
Another things that would be interesting for this world cup is who will take home the golden boot award. Top contenders would be David Villa and Wayne Rooney. But I think Robin Van Persie stands a good chance to claim the award if Netherland perform very well in this campaign. His current form is excellent during the friendly matches for the world cup preparation and after another disappointing season of a lengthy period on the sidelines, Van Persie would relish the chance to showcase his talents on the biggest stage. I am not saying this because he is a Gunner but I think most people would agree that Van Persie is a world class striker.
They call football as the beautiful game on earth. But the beauty could be tarnished if air of racism is still fresh in the sport. Football can take some inspirations from South Africa in stopping the racist culture. This is the event that unites people regardless of colours and faiths, when everyone raises the flags of their nations and that is why football deserve to be called as the beautiful game on earth. Not only beautiful in the sports element solely, but also the joy, the tears and the unity that it brings to everyone. Let the game begins, lads!
p/s : 1. world cup pun world cup gak, tapi jangan sampai subuh tergadai. kalau subuh tergadai, kesian kat saudara kita di Gaza.
2. I wrote this entry yesterday but due to time constraints, I could only manage to finish it tonight.