Yogi Berra had it right. Let’s pull up jimsakeeper’s WC10 predictions and see how we did:
1. The trickle of screwups, facility complaints, crime, weak security and other inefficiencies will only get worse. There will be at least one serious, tragic story coming out of this. Not “if” but “how bad”. Germany was a tough act to follow.
Terrorism is not out of the picture, in my opinion. The attacks of the African Cup of Nations show how easy it can be, Somalia is near by and there are some high-profile nations represented.
As infrastructure collapses or otherwise fails, inquiries will discover that key officials skimmed the funds. The rich will profit. As the WC leaves town, like the circus, it will status quo for South Africa’s poor, who will for the most part be remembered as gracious hosts.
Overall, things went better than feared. There were some sad events, but nothing that clearly pointed at a lack of diligence on the part of the host country:
- The tragic death of Mandela’s grandniece in a single-passenger accident. Alcohol was cited as a factor. Attributable to infrastructure? Could this have happened anywhere?
- A Somali terrorist group tied to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for simultaneous bombings that tore through World Cup parties in Uganda’s capital Monday night, killing 74 people. Would this have happened regardless of where the Cup was held — probably.
- Hotel room thefts — these sadly happen all the time. Footballers are prime targets because they have cash and flashy items, and their rooms and houses are guaranteed to be empty when games are in progress. Kudos to the local police for apprehending the thieves in at least one case.
2. Overachievers: USA, Mexico, S. Africa, S. Korea (if Ji-Sung Park is healthy). Some say Slovenia will figure. Why not.
Three of four made the round of 16, the USA put Slovenia out in the final seconds of their match vs. Algeria. Mexico was unlucky not to do better against Argentina, giving up a goal that was offside followed by a garrafal error in the back. South Africa hit the post in the dying seconds vs. Mexico; a goal there would probably have put them through (but Mexico would’ve gone out).
3. Underachievers: France, Argentina, Portugal, Italy (but the azzuri should advance). Maradona will fail badly, un fracaso. Many will bitterly retire from la selección but the younger ones will be talked back in when a new coach is appointed, probably a pendulum swing to a real Argentine coach with experience, like Bianchi or Valdano.
Of France, Portugal and Italy, only the lusitanos advanced and then were played off the pitch by Spain, who crushed them 1-0. The question is Argentina: successful because they got to the last eight? Or fracaso because with all that talent, they were thrashed so soundly? I say the latter, but apparently many in Argentina want Diego to stay. follow-on prediction: if the AFA don’t can him, he’ll self-destruct within two years.
4. African teams will continue to make headlines for disorganization, pay disputes, or other shadiness.They will be incredibly strong at their best but unable to put together complete games.
On the plus, Ghana looked quite good. But they should have had more company in the round of 16.
5. It’s winter: the weather will play a part in some games. Rain, thunder, lightning; like that.
That didn’t take a genius. The third-place game was played in a downpour.
Fortunately the final was not.
6. The new ball will continue to be a hot topic, but it will turn out that while a few goals will make the GK look bad, it will hurt attackers more as crosses and shots fly over the intended targets.
I think this was pretty accurate but the best teams seemed to figure it out as time went by. Starting with Japan’s two good free kick goals vs. Denmark, I saw fewer shots sailing over the target. But Villa still sailed one in the final.
7. England will get out of the group but not make last 4 as they continue to lose players to injury or red cards.
I think I gave them too much credit.
8. Margin of victory USA – England will be one goal or tie. Days of USA being on the ropes are over.
Who knew that England would be the easiest of the three games in our group?
9. As always, someone unknown and unexpected (like Robbie Findley) will have a breakout cup and score a lot of goals (Schillaci style). He will be bought by one of the top five clubs in Europe (Madrid, Inter, Man U, Chelsea, etc.) where he will go and prove mediocre and a bad value for money.
It seems that this didn’t happen so much. One, I think the scouting is better, viz. Man U. signing Chicharito before the Cup started.Of the top ten goal scorers, most are known studs. Here are the lesser-known players (to me) who may make moves in the days to come:
Slovakia Robert VITTEK (4 goals)
USA Landon DONOVAN (3)
Ghana Asamoah GYAN (3)
Japan Keisuke HONDA (2)
Australia Brett HOLMAN (2)
Nigeria Kalu UCHE (2)
Korea Republic LEE Chung Yong (2)
Korea Republic LEE Jung Soo (2)
10. Brasil and / or Spain in a lackluster, tight-sphincter final. If they win, Dunga will become a saint, as Felipão Scolari was, all the criticism will be forgiven and his discipline will be lauded. If they win.
Was that tight enough for you, sports fans? Holland put Brazil out in an excellent game and Dunga resigned before the towels had been laundered. Vicente Del Bosque, the enigmatic walrus, became the man of the hour, brilliantly maintaining his calm, cool demeanor through thick and thin. He doesn’t need to ever work again but he will receive many, many, many offers.