Armchair Pundit

World Cup cheat sheet: Day 20

Alex Chick

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Tuesday's action gave us one goal in 210 minutes of action. Maybe it's for the best Wednesday is a rest day.

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Paraguay 0-0 Japan (5-3 on penalties) - Pretoria
Paraguay shaded one of the most boring World Cup matches in living memory, winning the tournament's first penalty shoot-out. Japan, so inventive and attacking against Denmark, looked stricken by caution and made no attempt to score from open play, relying entirely on set pieces. Paraguay were marginally better but still too a no-risk approach. To nobody's surprise it went the distance, and Yuichi Komano was the villain, striking the bar with his effort. Oscar Cardozo settled it with an ultra-cool penalty, ambling up to the ball and sending Eiji Kawashima the wrong way. Adrian Chiles asked Gareth Southgate what Komano had done wrong, and Southgate resisted the temptation to reply: "He hit it about a foot higher than necessary."

Spain 1-0 Portugal - Cape Town
For the third time this tournament, an exciting-looking Portugal match turned into a snooze thanks to their ultra-cautious approach. They failed to get anything like the best out of an isolated Cristiano Ronaldo, who looked suitably put out, and deservedly exited to a Spain side with more class and more ambition. Not that Vicente Del Bosque's side have hit top gear. Fernando Torres continued his woeful tournament and was hauled off before the hour mark. David Villa was the best player on the pitch and scored the decisive goal - his fourth of the competition - collecting a Xavi backheel and finishing at the second attempt after Eduardo saved his initial shot. Portugal's Ricardo Costa controversially saw red late on for allegedly swinging an elbow at Joan Capdevila.

Quarter-final: Paraguay v Spain - Johannesburg - July 3 - 19.30

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Wednesday: REST DAY

Daytime TV and soap opera fans can reclaim ownership of the remote control for 65 hours, as the World Cup takes a break.

Distressingly, just eight of the 64 matches remain in this tournament. The action resumes with two quarter-finals apiece on Friday and Saturday.

So to get you through the barren hours, let me throw this poser at you: can it really be a coincidence that the World Cup last eight and final series of Big Brother both have characters whose name is pronouced 'Shabby'?

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Water cooler chat: Sepp Blatter's apology

For two days it seemed that FIFA would not even acknowledge the two biggest refereeing blunders of the World Cup - Frank Lampard's disallowed goal, and Carlos Tevez's wildly offside goal, which wrongly stood.

The only communication on the matter had been to say that it had been a mistake to show the Tevez incident on Soccer City's big screen. God forbid that a catastrophic blunder should become public knowledge.

But on Tuesday FIFA president Blatter, who has resisted any attempts to bring video technology into the game, revised his Canutean stance and admitted that human error was not always a good thing.

"I have spoken to the two federations (England and Mexico) directly concerned by referees mistakes. I have expressed to them apologies and I understand they are not happy and that people are criticising," Blatter told a media briefing in Johannesburg.

"It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology at the business meeting of the International FA Board in July."

Blatter added the only topic for discussion would be goalline technology, whether by  HawkEye or a chip in the ball, saying - not unreasonably - that technology shoudn't be necessary to spot blatant offsides.

The big Swiss cheese didn't get where he is today without being a skilful politician, and it is obvious that the tide of opinion has turned against FIFA's current position and in favour of technology. Nobody likes to see the World Cup turned into a mockery.

Well, almost nobody.

What to say: 'Maybe FIFA can introduce video technology at the next World Cup to determine where Wayne Rooney has disappeared to.'

What not to say: 'How dare those FIFA bigwigs come over here and take away our flimsy excuses?'

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World Cup jargon: See you in court

Remember the disgruntled fan who walked up to the England dressing-room and confronted David Beckham after the 0-0 draw against Algeria?

Well, it turns out Pavlos Joseph may not have acted alone. Sunday Mirror journalist Simon Wright has been arrested in Cape Town, accused of harbouring Joseph and orchestrating the whole incident.

Wright is the man who supposed managed to track down Joseph and interview him exclusively for his paper, all while police conducted a massive manhunt for the fan.

Wright is a senior reporter for the Sunday Mirror, and in recent months has brought us stories such as: 'Is Kerry Katona's new man a sponger?' and 'First interview with girl banned from every pub in Britain'.

The national commissioner of police, General Bheki Cele, said: "The police have reason to believe this incident was orchestrated, and involved the co-operation of a number of individuals. The police strongly believe the motive was to put the World Cup security in a bad light, and possibly to profit from this act."

Trinity Mirror have issued a statement insisting the story was legitimate, while other British journalists have backed Wright, saying they were also offered the story after the game.

Wright is due back in court on Wednesday, and there is more on this from Early Boers.

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