Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's not enough merely to win

Yesterday, on the Guardian's World Cup Daily pod Paolo Bandini put his finger on the reason Team USA tends to wind the rest of us up so much every four years: if they win, they gloat, but if they lose, they don't really seem to care.

Still it was an American (and former resident of La Antigua) Gore Vidal who though I'd hesitate to suspect him of being a soccer fan came up with a sentence that surely encapsulates the essential thrill of the World Cup: "It's not enough merely to win, others must lose."

Thinking ahead to England's potential exit tomorrow in the last 16 stage, I'd have to add that it's not enough merely to lose, others must NOT win.

Anyway, if the USA does overcome Ghana today (cue gloat) it will apparently be the first time that they have won back-to-back World Cup fixtures since 1930.

Ghana clearly didn't expect to make it even this far because their government has had to announce the imminent repatriation of a thousand fans whose trip to South Africa they'd financed. But now, with the group stages completed, the budget has run out, and so West African support tonight will be somewhat depleted.

Owing to bandwidth issues it has been easier to me to follow the BBC's World Cup feed live online than ITV's. Several of my mates back in the UK have observed that ITV has come up with livelier pundit panels and better coverage all round.

Perhaps even more excruciating than Guatemalan commentators' persistant referrals to Africa as 'the black continent' (and to the Nigerians as 'the black eagles': they are in fact the Super Eagles) have been those little video reports on the 'real Africa' which the BBC has insisted on showing once the likes of Shearer and Hansen have worn themselves, and everyone else, out.

Ghana, however, really are known as the Black Stars.

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