(Results: Uruguay 1-0 Mexico, South Africa 2 – 1 France, Argentina 2- 0 Greece, South Korea 2- 2 Nigeria)
Day 12 proved to be yet another interesting and exciting day, after the comparatively dull first week in South Africa. The World Cup has reached the stage where groups are being decided, teams are becoming officially eliminated, and match-ups are being set for the Round of 16. This is where the rubber meets the road and there is no margin for error. The day kicked off with a dubious situation in Group A; if the game between Mexico and Uruguay had ended in a draw, both the teams would have qualified, leaving the game between South Africa and France a dead rubber. Also, since Argentina had already topped Group B, no team in Group A would have wanted to finish second and face the Argentines, who are in scintillating form at the moment.
Group B had its own share of drama, as Nigeria, Greece and South Korea had equal opportunities to qualify for the next round. Greece unfortunately had a date with Argentina, and therefore their contention was arguably nullified before the day began.
With so much excitement in the atmosphere, Day 12 simply had to be a gala day for the football fans.
Hero of the day: Team South Africa
Bafana Bafana were outstanding in their win over France. The South Africans played well above expectations in one of the tougher groups in the tournament, missing out only on goal difference. While they will take no further part in this event, the joy of that opening night, the quality of their counter attacking football, the stunning goal scored against Mexico and this win over France will live long in the memory of every South African.
Villain of the day : FIFA
FIFA gets this award for their obstinate refusal to replay the France vs Ireland qualifier, after the infamous hand of frog episode. France have brought nothing to this tournament but disgrace to football, and the performances of the players conveyed their feelings deep down knowing they had no right to be there. Anelka’s episode with the coach and then later the French players refusing to participate in the pre-match practice session was shameful. Ireland would have surely bought passion, tenacity, wonderful fans and a will to win.
“My Elbow Strongest” Man of the day: Yoann Gourcuff (France)
They call him Zizou’s successor, and he thought if he can’t play like the great man, he can at least take a red card in the last outing of France’s world cup campaign. So he elbowed South African defender McBeth Sibaya and knocked him out for a good five minutes on the ground ,proving that he is en-route to becoming the next Zidane, even if the traits he’s developing are of the great man’s alter ego.
Torturer of the day: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
He wont score, but he’ll continue to send shivers down opposition defenders and raise expectations of a Messi-merizing goal to his fans. The kind of form he is in has started bothering the oppositions; a failure to score in each game will add to his frustration, and Argentina’s subsequent opponents will fear his wrath for his goal-lust. Amongst the fans though, the torture of not being able to see the “Messiah” celebrate the glory is getting too much to handle.
Goal of the day : Park Chu-young(South Korea)
South Korea mesmerized everyone back in 1986 with their skillful long range shooting ability, and the tradition continued in South Africa. Park Chu-Young curled in a stunner from a full 25 yards to gain a point against Nigeria and seal his team’s passage to the round of 16.
Park Chu-Young’s(10) free kick left Nigeria dumbfounded and eventually marked the exit for Super Eagles.
Quote of the day: A French Fan
“This has been a disaster off the field and on. It can’t get worse. We are happy that he is going, his head should have been cut off long before.”
– Guillotines come to mind as a French fan celebrates the end of France coach Raymond Domenech’s reign.
“Please Ignore The Team” of the Day: France
No, There’s nothing you’ll get to read here about France. They don’t deserve it. They are not even a team. As simple as that.
Trivia of the Day
South Africa became the first host nation ever to not qualify for the second round of the World Cup. But Bafana Bafana gained a great reputation, grabbing a great point against highly rated Mexico in the opener before putting France to the sword yesterday.