As a female, I'll admit it, a gi-normous chunk of my interest in soccer stems from the boys who play it. It has since high school. I mean these guys have to be conditioned to run for 90 minutes, be able to jump ridiculously high in the air, and be willing to take some pretty rough tumbles, which all adds up to men that are usually also very very hot. I've decided, along with trying to learn a couple of things to improve my knowledge of soccer, which I would consider to still be at the "beginner" stage, I'm also going to keep a record of the Men of the World Cup, match by match.
I would also like to say quickly that the openings of the matches always get me a little choked up, when they walk out with the children and in a, usually, very sportsmanlike manner shake hands, and have the dual national anthems..I don't know, it just feels like the way sports are supposed to be. Of course, I also like it when I have something to complain about, like the massive number of dives most Latin American nations take and then expect to be awarded a corner, or try to persuade the referees that their opponent is more deserving of a yellow card. It's really a win-win with the World Cup for me. And the fact that it's in South Africa and that it feels, at least for now, that the African continent might be getting some recognition for something other than civil uprisings and being stripped of their natural resources, and seeing how much it means to the people in the stadium, those things kind of made me tear up a bit too. I'm not naive enough to believe that this will solve everything, or to ignore the fact that there were things going on behind the scenes that I'm not aware of, but I'll be honest, the spectacle does make me feel a little warm and fuzzy on the inside.
And before anyone asks, I'm an England fan. I have been since Michael Owen, so that's how I roll. And although I'm a fan, I don't think they'll go all the way. I have officially picked The Netherlands for my bracket to take the whole kit and caboodle. Anyone besides Argentina, Brazil and Italy would be a plus though.
No on to my main objective: highlighting the athletes of course!
South Africa V. Mexico:
Who I'm rooting for: South Africa
From what I've learned, the host nation usually gets a fairly easy draw their first match. That didn't happen this time around. While it first looked like Mexico might run all over the South Africans, the odds have evened out over the last couple of weeks, as they have for most of the matches on tap.
The first half was slightly hampered by South Africa's inability to take possession of the ball. And while all the players names were being bandied about, these were the 2 that caught my eye.
Carlos Vela (with Arsenal when he's not on the Mexican national team)
and Guillermo Franco (just released from West Ham)
Despite these difficulties, South Africa was the first to score with a beautiful strike in the 54th minute. It was Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)with the score:
afterwards a fantastic short choreographed dance took place. That's the other reason to watch: Who knows what will happen once a goal is scored?!
And appropriately, in the first match of the first World Cup in Africa, it was South Africa who took the lead.
According to ESPN, when Vela was taken off the field around the 70 minute mark, he was very disappointing. I always find that an interesting statement about athletes who have made the NATIONAL team in a WORLD tournament, but hey, someone has to be disappointing right, I mean how else do you designate the loser?
Someone who wasn't disappointing, at least for Mexico:
Rafael Marquez (Barcelona)-whose other photos all feature him with long hair, which is not appealing to me, so this is what you get-who scored the equalizer in the 79th minute.
So those are the MOWC for that match. I must say, I'm slightly disappointed in Google images. Apparently the only footballers who ever appear shirtless in public are Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, but I'll do my best to find the most "appropriate" photos for these entries.