rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Sports » Maradona's boys have come a long way

Maradona's boys have come a long way

June 23, 2010 12:10 IST
France native Claude Arpi, who has lived in India for 36 years, captures the fan's passion for football in an ongoing e-mail exchange with Ivan Crasto, Rediff.com's Sports Editor.

Read Claude's first e-mail here
You can find his second e-mail here
And his third here
And his fourth here
And his 5th: Revolution is a French sport
And the one yesterday on the World Cup balls

Dear Ivan,

It is becoming tougher. It is not easy to follow two matches at the same time. The only solution is zapping.

Since last night I have not stopped receiving condolence messages. I don't know why!?

With my 'good' luck, while watching the Pride match between the Bafanas and Les Bleus, I had shifted channels just when the French finally scored their first (and last goal) of the competition.

Anyway, I feel sad for South Africa. I wished the host country had qualified for the pre-quarter finals. They played a spirited game and tried hard to make the difference. When they led 2-0 after 37 minutes, I thought that would sink the French further.

What to say about the French!

There was a survey in the French media about the pitiful performance of the national team. The questions were: Are you sad? Are you disgusted by the players' fiasco? Are you tired by this non-stop media coverage? Are you relieved by the elimination in South Africa?

By far, the last question evoked best the sentiments of the 'common man'.

I feel a bit sorry for Yoann Gourcuff who was very severely expelled for elbowing a South African defender after 26 minutes. Gourcuff had been announced as the new Zidane. Unfortunately in modern football, to become a great player, you have to impose yourself outside the field. You need to have a big mouth.

Gourcuff is too nice, too polite, too educated to fight the 'caids' (the Big Bosses, in other word the goondas) of the team. This also is football.

I could only watch the highlights of the Uruguay-Mexico match, but what I saw was pleasant. The Uruguayans played to win (though a draw was enough for them) and they played well. Cavani's centre on Suarez's head before the break was perfect. The score could have been heavier when Diego Forlam shot a great free-quick on Lugano's head, forcing a brilliant save from Oscar Perez.

At the end both teams were qualified, but unfortunately for the Central Americans they will meet Argentina in their first match of the knock-out competition. Maradona's boys are now one of the favorites of the competition with their neighbours, Brazil.

Can we imagine one day two South Asian neighbours being rivals in the final of a football World Cup? Much water will have to flow down the Yamuna and the Indus before we see this.

Coming back to Argentina, remember in April 2009 during the qualifications, Bolivia trashed Argentina 6-1. Diego Maradona, then the new coach, could only say: 'We have to give merit to Bolivia who were better than us in every part of the field... They beat us well and now we have to start all over again.'

It has been a long way for Argentina who has won its 3 matches. Maradona, who had the unique 'privilege' of having been expelled by his federation as a player and as a coach, seems to be doing well with his players. And they have a genius amongst them. It makes the difference.

Wishing them good luck for the more difficult forthcoming match(es).

Four more matches tonight. Let us see how the 'great' Europeans teams manage.

With relieved vuvuzelas

Claude

Image: Argentina coach Diego Maradona, right, hugs Lionel Messi after the game against South Korea. Photograph: Reuters