Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Football and Freedom in Durban

Well if anyone wanted to demonstrate the grace and beauty of the world game an excellent game to showcase would be the one I last wrote about between Brazil and Chile. On the other hand, if someone else wanted to demonstrate that soccer is a stupid, boring sport they could do worse than exhibiting yesterday afternoon's game between Japan and Paraguay. What an extraordinary contrast.

So thank the gods for the Iberian derby last night between Spain and Portugal. But really, this Round of 16 was so imbalanced, leaving mediocre teams like Ghana and Paraguay in the mix whilst we watched the brave and skilled Portuguese and Chileans eliminated.

In the end I guess, there is as much justice in soccer as there is in life - a bit, but not a lot, and not consistently.

I woke up this morning without a cough. The air is clean. At 8.30 we were served creamy porridge with brown sugar and a splash of whiskey (this is something I am going to try at home), fresh juice, proper coffee and French toast with bacon and mushrooms. There is no games on today so we're just gonna chill, read and breathe this air. Unlike Total Sports Travel, which I highly recommend that people avoid like the plague, Somerset Guest House in Durban is simple, tasteful, civilised and pleasant. Believe it or not - and this is the really criminal part - the price is not much different.

We were warned in Australia about the possibility of being robbed in South Africa, but we were robbed before we left by Australians. Sue me Total Sports: I dare you! Everything you promised is documented and the horror that you delivered is witnessed by over 200 people. The fact that I could have stayed at the place that was in your promotion photographs, the place whose address was listed, for one third the price, is just a little irksome. For my readers the important thing is that my complaints on this front are nothing to do with South Africa. South Africa has its problems, which provided the ultimate scapegoat for everything wrong with our accommodations, but I can love South Africa for its problems. Total Sports Travel are criminals from Australia.

Another important note is that I hold no ill-will whatsoever toward Dee and Keith, who were the employees alternately on the coalface at the camp dealing with us and our constant, reasonable complaints, whilst living in the same conditions. I'm sure you're hating it as much as I was, and you really tried to help us and make us more comfortable. To the two of you, thankyou sincerely, and I truly hope you find yourself another employer. I'll write you a glowing reference on request.

Anyway, I feel free to bitch freely now for the very reason that I am free. But at the same time, it's time to enjoy.

Jesus I hope they don't read this yet as we're back there in eight days for the final couple of days of the Cup.

The next live game we're looking forward to is in one week, Match 62, the last semi-final, and the possibilities are all mouth-watering. My guess is that it will be Spain v Argentina. If Paraguay beat Spain in the Quarters I will vomit into my own scorn (to use my favourite Bernard Black line), but the Germany v Argentina clash will be a genuine blockbuster between different cultures and styles, and I would keep my money away from the bookies. I guess I'm backing Argentina due to the general South American dominating theme, and my new love for the freak Maradona, but the Germans are so organised it's disgusting. Spain v Germany would be just fine, if that's how the gods would have it.

But today and tomorrow, in this first break between games, I am going to relax and enjoy this fine city in this beautiful country.

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