#10 When Defeat Becomes Victory
Barring a cricket score by Ivory Coast against North Korea on Friday, it looks as if Ghana will be the only African nation, of the six that took part in the World Cup, to make it to the second round. And its passage was confirmed despite losing its final group game to Germany (Ghana still finished second). But the real moment of joy came a week earlier, when striker Asamoah Gyan’s penalty kick five minutes from time resulted in the first-ever African team to triumph on African soil in a World Cup. You can tell from their outpouring of joy that the players realized what a special moment it was. The only question now is whether the U.S. can avenge its 2006 defeat at the hands of the Ghanaians in their knockout clash on Saturday.
#9 The Ball Is Round
If the controversy over those vuvuzelas wasn’t bad enough, we had to put up with players and coaches moaning about this year’s World Cup ball. Called the Jabulani (which ironically means “to rejoice”), it has upset many in the game, who have suggested it’s making life unfair for goalkeepers (such as this Rob Green gaffe for England vs. the U.S.) because of the way the ball moves in the air. But the carping seemed to cease when Brazil made the Jabulani bend to its will, scoring goals of beauty against North Korea and Ivory Coast. And the other team in that group, Portugal, managed a not unhealthy seven against the Koreans. As former player Alan Hansen said on the BBC, “The ball is the ball. It always has been.”