Wonders,they say,shall never end.The 19th edition of the FIFA World Cup has so far produced the manuscript of an interesting drama,full of intrigues and mind-blowing surprises.Africa had the privilege,for the first time,of hosting the highest football tournament in the world.204 teams from all the continents played the qualifying series but only 32 teams had their passion up to the needed threshold .
During the 18 tournaments that have been held,seven national teams won the title.Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times,and they are the only team to have played in every tournament.Italy,the current champions,have won four titles and Germany are the next with three title.The other former champions are Uruguay,winners of the inaugural tournament and Argentina with two titles each,and England and France with one title each.
The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world,an estimated 715.1million people watched the final match of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.Ofcourse,with the exit of Brazil,some days ago,they will have ample time to plan the 2014 edition they will be hosting.
History was made when South Africa become the first host nation to be eliminated in the group stage of the competition.Irrespective of the obvious preferences meted to them as the host nation,together with their home advantage,they could not make it to the round of sixteen.They managed the third position with four points in their group A table.They drew with Mexico in their first match after leading the Mexicans through Tshabalala’s goal.Uruguay flogged then with three good goals,but they were able to defeat an already frustrated France in their final group game.
Five African teams,including Nigeria,were disgraced out of the tournament at the group stages.Nigeria was unable to beat any nation in the tournament,including the low-rated Greece and South Korea.Despite employing a white man that was to do the miracle for a whooping salary of 1.3million dollars,we only succeeded in breaking record.Yakubu got the award for the greatest miss ever in the history of the World Cup.Kaita’s red card became a thorn in our flesh,prompting the numerous death threats he received.
Dr Goodluck Jonathan single-handedly banned the national team for a period of two years,thus authenticating the dictatorship rule of the PDP.Just like the President of France was angry with their national team for their dismal performance at the ongoing tournament,our President considered ban as the best way to rescue our comatose football team.FIFA’s dangling sledge hammer is imminent if his decision remains unchanged after three days.
Africa’s last hope,Ghana bowed out of the World Cup in the most heartbreaking circumstances in one of the most amazing finishes to a match.The black stars would have been the first African country to reach the semi-final in World Cup,but were denied by Gyan’s last minute penalty miss.He became to Ghana what Yakubu was to Nigeria.Ghana’s players collapsed in tears while Uruguay celebrated their first semi-final appearance for 40years,in which they will play Holland.
About three-quarters of the 32 teams are out of South Africa,including the big names of England,USA,Italy,France,Argentina,Portugal and Brazil.This shows that the game is improving and every team is eyeing the trophy.The defending champions,whose world cup squad featured 9players who are at least 30years old,failed to qualify from their group.
Maradona’s Argentina were buried thanks to a third-minute goal from Thomas Muller and two second-half efforts from Miroslav Klose either side of one from Arne Friedrich.Six days after turfing England out of the World Cup with a magical display,Germany cast their spell on Argentina with a brilliant quarter-final performance despite the presence of goal machines like Lionel Messi(the world’s best player that failed to get a goal),Gonzalo Higuain(the top goal scorer in Real Madrid last season),Diego Milito and Carlos Tevez.
Wesley Sneijder dumped favourites,Brazil out of the World Cup as Netherlands finally got better of their South American Nemesis.But they had to come from behind to avenge their heartbreaking defeats of 1994 and 1998 and book their place in the semi-finals.
The German machines look unstoppable in their quest for the glory.They have and are still posing a threat to the remaining teams in the competition.Netting four goals(they just like making it four) each against Argentina and England is still surprising to all.Who will not be happy with them for this feat?
Four teams are still standing in the clash of the titans;Netherland,Spain(that narrowly escaped elimination in their quarter-final march against Paraguay),Uruguay and Germany.Who will be the next to go?Who will lift the trophy?
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Brazil,Argentina,Italy,…thou was slain in thine high places.