Final thoughts: World Cup top 10

As the international football competition nears its end, here are my top moments of the tournament.

As the international football competition nears its end, here are my top moments from the tournament:

Top question: Female Chinese journalist in the direction of Raymond Domenech on the eve of France’s first match. “When a frog is put in boiling water, it doesn’t feel the heat until the water gets hot. How warm is the water for you now?” Had Monsieur Domenech known the water would soon be boiling hot with added sharks in the mix, he might well have left then.

Top man: Has to be Diego. Not many coaches can turn a pre-match press conference into a work of theatre. He may have the tactical awareness of a badly informed labrador but you cannot question his passion. When he solemnly announced that Germany’s players would have to “leave their skins on the pitch if they want to beat us,” I came close to punching the air with patriotic fervor. I was born 20km south of Liverpool.

Top stadium: Cape Town. It cost half a billion dollars and has no clear sporting legacy but as venue in its own right it is hard to argue with. Expect Elton John to be paying a visit soon.

Top fans: South Africa. The atmosphere at the Cape Town fan park on the opening day was unbelievable despite it being in a city where the home team was never likely to play. Renewed national pride and feeling of unity the normal quote.

Top understatement: The Dutch guy I met who, along with about 40 other like-minded souls, had driven from Amsterdam to South Africa. “We hit a sand storm somewhere in Sudan, the windscreen fell out and the front of the car was buried in a dune. But the worst thing was knowing we were out of cigarettes.”

Top thought: That not everyone was happy with the FIFA road show pulling into town. Sobering day on the Cape Flats with organisers of the ‘Poor People’s World Cup.’ A typical thought. “How can they spend money on football when I have to live in a house with a leaking roof and I can’t even afford the electricity to watch the games on TV?”

Top view: Watching Argentina v Nigeria on a tiny black and white television belonging to the security guard at our Cape Town digs. We were luxuriating in student halls and his was the only TV in the building. Just after Argentina scored he asked me what job I hoped to do when I graduated.

Top goal: Will do this on the basis of ones I saw with my own failing eyes. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s screamer against Uruguay was the stand out. Luis Suarez’s winner against South Korea a close second. Proof that flippin ball could be curled without it sailing off into the veld. Mr Suarez was also to prove it could be punched pretty hard as well.

Top shame: Empty seats. I have seen the official figures about sales records being broken. I also saw two or three matches in Port Elizabeth where fans could pretty much choose their own vantage point.

Top dribble: No competition and it is another Chinese journalist getting the nod. This time the one who fell asleep on my shoulder with accompanying drool attached during Oscar Tabarez’s semi-final press conference. He awoke briefly during Oscar’s final answer only to drop off again as soon as the Dutch coach walked in.

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