Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Cup Notes (II)

1) Regular visitors to this little online patch of Seoul are familiar with my co-worker and friend Hwang Tae-shik; it was my turn, so I invited him and his lovely famly to my chicken hof to watch the Korea-Argentina game on Thursday. I had checked with the manager to make sure we would have a good table outside on the patio in front of the building, but when I arrived 1 1/2 hours in advance of the game, every table was taken. Grrr!

Eventually, we got a table with good sight lines--and the fried chicken was excellent as always--but the game was rather a disappointment. I place the blame firmly on the shoulders of Korea's Coach Huh. a) First of all, after a stellar performance vs. Greece, Cha was rewarded for his efforts by riding the pine. b) The most explosive striker on the team was assigned the defensive responsibility of marking Lionel Messi. While Pak Jisung is a marking midfielder for Man U, on the Korean squad this is a misuse of limited resources. That should have been bald, tenacious Cha. 'Nuff said. c) The Korean midfield was unable to generate offense and poor at marking in the first half, but second half substitutions did nothing to remedy the situation.

Argentina, admittedly one of the best teams in this WC, took the 태극전사 Taeguk Jeonsa into the woodshed and gave them a damn good hiding.

2) The French back line stood still and called for offside, while Mexico gathered the ball and scored the goal for a big upset. Nothing against French people, but I do love when the French lose. Also, I hate when players think they are referees instead of hustling back to play the game and worry about arguing the call later.

3) I am not generally one to whine about reffing. No, really. If the ref misses a call, I can understand that, it's a tough job and there are fifty decisions to make every second. But I really hate it when the ref makes a call when NOTHING HAPPENED. I've watched it over and over, and I cannot see any evidence of a foul or offside or anything whatever to call back the third goal that should have put the USA up 3 - 2 over Slovenia. If a USA player was offside, it is only because a Slovenian who had him wrapped in a bearhug pushed him forward.

4) As a result, Group C is a mess, with Slovenia atop the group with 4 points, the USA and England with 2 each after England's lackluster outing against Algeria resulted in a nil-nil tie. Algeria has one point. The final meetings of the group are June 23 at 22:00 Seoul time.

If USA beats Algeria, we advance no matter what. If England beats Slovenia, England advances. Here's where it gets more complicated. If England wins and USA ties or loses, England and Slovenia advance. If USA ties and England loses, USA and Slovenia advance. If both games are ties, Slovenia goes on. Then, the US goes on if England fails to score three goals more than the USA on Wednesday. Or something.

5) Tomorrow night, DPRK meet Portugal for the first time since 1966, in a game that is still remembered as one of the great contests in the tournament's history. North Korea was up 3 - 0 by the 25th minute in a quarterfinal game played at Goodison Park, Liverpool. But the Portugese responded with five unanswered goals, three coming in the second half (four from one player, Eusebio, including two penalties).

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