Sunday, June 27, 2010

Whose World? What Cup? (Day 16a)

Starry, starry night... tonight, the second match in the round of 16 sees the Black Stars of Ghana meet the White Stars of the USA. Let's hope it won't be a grey performance from these marvelously athletic sides!

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There's been a lot of running around so far, but since Kevin-Prince Boateng's successful strike on the American goal in the fifth minute, there hasn't been another critical moment. Ghana have looked more likely to get the job done, with about twice the number of attempts that the USA have made.

The Americans aren't the newbies or the enigmas that some people think of them as. However, they always play like amateurs. That has a positive side: they play cleverly and in a gentlemanly fashion; even their bad tackles are 'oops' moments rather than cynical ones. It also has a negative side (at least for the purpose of game-winning): sometimes you can see them getting carried away with the sheer pleasure of kicking the ball around.

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Ooh. The Americans displayed a lot more intent in the second half, resulting in a penalty after the hour when Clint Dempsey was brought down. Landon Donovan converted it.

Actually, the game should have been over long ago and the Americans should have won it. But we go into extra time now, locked at 1-1.

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Ghana draw first blood with a classic goal from Gyan. [Outside, I hear my cat yowling. Maybe he is having nightmares about lions or something. More likely, he is dreaming that he is a nightmare of a lion.]

In the second half of extra time, the commentator has a Yoda moment: "Score they must. Free-kick they have. Goal they need." [My cat yowls even louder, then wakes up. Or was that the other way round?]

And so the Black Stars win, having rediscovered their hunger in extra time. They'll meet Diego Forlan's Uruguay in the quarter-finals. That will be interesting; I think the two teams have very different styles and abilities.

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