Is The Grass Always Greener In SOWETO Or In RIO…?? (1)

Before a ball had even been kicked, officially, for the 20th Edition of the FIFA World Cup, comparisons were already being drawn with the tournament’s Afro predecessor.  It seems nothing was off limits as people opined openly about the so-called “disaster” that was unfolding and morphing into Brazil 2014!  

8 years, or so, ago when South Africa was preparing to host Africa’s 1st (and hopefully not last) ever FIFA World Cup, not many would have taken you seriously had you dared to suggest that the event would eventually be regarded as one of, if not indisputably, the BEST organised FIFA World Cup …… EVER!  But it was/is and that, unfortunately for Brazil, made it a somewhat hard act to follow.  Perhaps not quite in the Sir Alex – Moyes mould, but still quite a tall order nonetheless.  The comparisons between the African & South American hosts were inevitable.  However, unlike the 17 Laws that govern football, there were no ground rules set for what was fair game.  And so with the imaginary referee seemingly waving play-on, people did not need any encouragement to get stuck in with the juxtaposing.

I have listened to some of the arguments made, which in the light of Brazil’s shambolic preparations have cast an even brighter glow on the success that was South Africa 2010.  BUT, I have found myself more often than not wondering if some of the positive press that Mzansi is receiving isn’t somewhat more off the mark ( think Sergio Ramos 2012 Champions League penalty), than as spot on (now think Sergio Ramos 2014 Champions League headers) as some would care to admit.

They do, after all, say hindsight is 20/20 (urrrrm not that 20/20 …. get your mind out of the cricket gutter), BUT now with the benefit of an entire 1st & 2nd round of Brazil 2014 matches completed, I think we are (okay I am) now better placed to cast a hawk’s eye over both editions and give a point of view that is hopefully better than Yuichi Nishimura’s (yes that very same Mr Yiuchi who refereed the 2014 opening match with his eyes wide shut).

In case you are still wondering…. what follows is NOT always justifiable by footballing reasons.

PRE-GAME

Preparations:-

No need to consult the Assistant Ref here, South Africa have been credited, by most, with hosting the best organised FIFA World Cup and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who will back the Brazil preparations to be used as a blue-print for future tournament organisers.
So whereas the Brazilian version is set to be the most expensive FIFA World Cup EVER (with astronomical budget overruns), the South African edition was ironically, so well organised, that Sepp Blatter declared South Africa a stand-by host nation should the shortcomings of a future host nation threaten the staging of a tournament.  And to think that in the run up to 2010, a lot of huffing and puffing was done by naysayers attempting to justify the need for a stand-by host nation, quite simply because not many wanted to accept that Africa could be trusted with staging such a tournament.

  • South Africa 1 – 0 Brazil

Anthems & Songs:-

In Brazil’s corner J-Lo + Pitbull + Claudia Leitte = We Are One (Ole Ola) & that is shadowed by We Will Find A Way (Dar Um Jeito) which showcases the collaborative talents of Wycleff Jean, Carlos Santana, Avicii & Alexandre Pires.   Try as I might to find any positives from the 2014 musical offerings, I can’t shake off the feeling that they are gimmicky and will not leave any positive lasting impression beyond the final whistle of the tournament.

And I say that with little hesitation because four years on Shakira & Freshly Ground’s, official 2010 song, Waka Waka and R Kelly’s official anthem, Sign Of A Victory (which featured The Soweto Gospel Choir) are still worth a listen and hopefully you will agree with me that the easy result here is….

  • Brazil 0 – 2 South Africa ( South Africa 3 – 0 Brazil on aggregate)

P/S I won’t even throw K-nnan’s Waving Flag into the fray (yeah in the interest of fair play I thought that this could raise a stink akin to using an unregistered player, seeing as, despite its popularity, it really wasn’t an official song or anthem)

Opening Ceremony:-

As soon as Brazil was announced as the 2014 hosts, it would be fair to say that quite a number of people (myself included) just thought “uh-oooh here comes the Mother of ALL parties!!”.  And with good reason too.  This, after all, is a country that is synonymous with CARNIVAL, and as such, all things FUN!!  So surely organising a jaw-dropping curtain raiser to the real deal should have been as easy as a tap-in-from-a-yard-out, right…?!?!  Oh how wroooooong we were to assume that.  Watching the final product, at times, seemed like we had interrupted a dress rehearsal and hadhad the audacity to broadcast it.  So what to do, but grin and bare it, as we eagerly awaited J-Lo, Pittbull & Claudia to save the day.

Tensions, that had been heightened by rumours that JENNY-might-not-appear-at-this-Samba-BLOCK-Party, eased momentarily when she eventually emerged.  BUT a mere five minutes later , I wonder how many more people, along with myself, were just wishing the rumours had proved to be true, and J-Lo & Co had given us another version of a no-show.  Oh-nayyy-Oh-naaaay-Oh-nay-Oh-NA!!

     

2010’s Opening Ceremony also had some significant no-show issues to deal with.  After his historic achievement of reaching the White House, Barak Obama had been rumoured to be on the list of dignitaries expected to grace Africa’s most significant sporting occasion to date.  He did not pitch.  Nor did an even more significant statesman who had more local ties, and perhaps an even more global appeal at the time.  There was NO Madiba-Magic sprinkled on the opening festivities as the, still jubilant crowd, were otherwise entertained by a well choreographed series of acts that included a special performance of the aforementioned Sign Of A Victory by R-Kelly & The Soweto Gospel Choir.

   

So I am inclined to give this round to South Africa…. again….. BUT before you accuse me of being biased, consider for a second what had happened 24 hours before the Opening Ceremony.  Not entirely satisfied with being limited to less than an hour to welcome the world to their shores, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) decided to boldly go where no tournament host had gone before and unleashed a galaxy of stars…. (no not the galacticos).  Where others look forward to the After-Party the LOC served up a glitsy all-out pre-Opening-Ceremony- Celebration party!!  The event’s team sheet boasted some heavy-HIT-ters in Alecia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Freshly Ground, Hugh Masekela & John Legend!!  So it’s for that extra effort that I score this round, this way…

  • Brazil 1 – 3 South Africa ( South Africa 6 – 1 Brazil on aggregate)

So at the end of the warm-ups it seems the grass is greener in Soweto…. BUT hey we don’t go to the games to watch the players limbering up.  The next installment of this head-to-head gets straight into the game.  Will the Brazilians pull some Samba tricks out of the bag to make up the deficit, or will South Africa pull out a Vuvuzela and continue this TURF-WAR blow-out?

Thanks for the read.  There may be some things that don’t sit well with you from this post, or other items you feel need to be taken off the subs’ bench and thrown in.  Whatever the case, I look forward to your responses, so please pardon-the-PUN-dit and punt back a response.

 

 

 

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