Apparently. Bit dull, isn’t it? I hope this is just because the teams are using the first of the group games to find their collective feet. Always helpful for football. If it hasn’t picked up by the last of the group games Sepp’s getting a strongly-worded letter.
Our boys are doing alright though, aren’t they? Kagisho Digkacoi (pronounced Dee-gash-wee according to the offal last week) did a pretty good job in the opening game as Lydia has already pointed out. I didn’t catch all of it but I did see him with a decent chance and a some good moves. In fact the player ratings on the Guardian’s website have him down as a 6.2, and I think they’re based on the general public and not the pundits or meeeeeja types. So that’s nice.
Dickson Etuhu was next up and again did a reasonable job against tough opposition. Any team that contains Messi and Tevez at the front is probably enough to strike terror into the heart of any opposition, but Dickson and his compadres fought for 84 or so minutes to contain them and prevent the eventual defeat being a humiliating one.
Then it was THAT game. You know the one. I was holed up in a pub in central London with a fellow Fulham fan, a few England supporters and a group of Americans who – I kid you not – stood up and sang along to the Star Spangled Banner. For those who were watching via ITV HD, Gerrard scored while you were deciding which Hyundai to buy. From what I remember the game was a bit scrappy with a lot of needless fouls and a shedload of yellow cards. But that boy Clint Dempsey scored. Fortuitously perhaps but it’s still a goal. And when you’ve staked one whole English pound on Dempsey getting the tournament’s Golden Boot as I have, everything counts. (NB I got 200/1 before the tournament started, the odds have now shortened to 80/1 – go Clint!)
Next up, the ever-smiling John Paintsil who had even more reason to smile after his Black Stars of Ghana defeated Serbia, considered by some to be the dark horse this year, a tad unexpectedly even after they were reduced to 10 men. Cue a JP lap of honour. Where does he get his energy?
Sunday evening will probably be an evening to forget for a few people, not least Mark Schwarzer but actually I think he was really rather unfortunate. The BBC measured the speed of the shot for the first goal and I defy anyone to keep out a ball hurtling towards them at 80-odd miles per hour with one hand. The second was dodgy timing. The third and fourth arguably shouldn’t have happened because in my opinion Cahill shouldn’t have been sent off, and that wrong decision changed the game. Thing is, how good were Germany? Losing to a team playing that skillfully really shouldn’t be considered shameful. Tellingly, in the fabled Guardian ratings Schwarzer was still rated higher than any of his Socceroo teammates.
So the only player still to play is our newbie Philippe Senderos of Switzerland, who face Spain on Wednesday. I’ll be watching avidly, and not just because I’ve got Spain in the office sweepstake. I wonder if he’ll feel the weight of the eyes of thousands of expectant Whites fans on him. I was quite surprised by the timing of the announcement that he would be joining us next season as I thought it would all go quiet during the World Cup. I hope it won’t distract him as a confident player is a good player, and there’s now’t more confidence boosting than a great run in the world’s biggest football competition.
One last thing, if the tedious, defensive football soundtracked by the horde of angry hornets on the telly is getting you down, have a look at this – Dempsey’s goal recreated in technicoloured Lego glory.