Not pretty but the right result

It promised so much yet delivered
so little. But at least we were guaranteed a first ever World Cup winner. The
sporting world’s eyes were focused on Soccer City yesterday for the final in
Johannesburg between Spain and the Netherlands.

It was the first World Cup final for Spain who are reigning champions and were
marginal favourites. And it was not third time lucky for Holland who lost in
1974 and ‘78.

The Dutch had shown stylish,
flowing football throughout this tournament but they came out lashing out all
over the place, trying to throw Spain out of their fluid style. It certainly
didn’t work. Holland collected seven yellows and Johnny Heitinga got his
marching orders in the 109th minute of a game ridiculed with cynical fouls
designed to thwart the other side’s normally exemplary flowing movement.

The Centre Spot sports bar heaved
with mostly Spain supporters. Actually, many were Hondurans who were cheering
for their ancestral cousins.

Manilo Conolly is captain of the
Tigers team. He said: “I believe Spain were the deserving champions. The match
was controlled mostly by Spain. They didn’t play as beautifully as they
normally do because the Dutch were playing really rough. Holland managed to go
on the attack a few times and created some chances but they didn’t get to do
much of the ‘tika-taka’.

The refined Dutch style started by
Johann Cruyff at Barcelona has overcome the traditional style on the biggest
stage. Viva Espana!”

Rugby’s DHL Storm team manager Mark
Woollard said: “I thought it was a very tight game. Both teams had their
chances, the referee did well in what ended up as a very physical contest, maybe
the pressure got to him in the end! 

“I think after the first half it
was obvious that one goal would win it and so it turned out.  One moment of fortune and the World Cup was
won. I feel sorry for the Dutch, they came so close, as they have in years
passed, but the Spanish are an outstanding team and it does not surprise me
they nicked it!  Well done to Spain, I
now have to wait until Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine for my next big national
team fix!”

Journalism student Hannah Reid
said: “Maybe it’s because they come from a country of flamenco dancers and bull
runners, but the Spaniards usually play with rhythm, speed and quick thinking
on their feet.

“For 115 minutes, we watched almost
every member of the Dutch team get yellow carded, we watched the Spanish find
their rhythm just to lose it again, and we watched Iker Casillas prove that he
has more talent – or luck – in his big toe than most goalies have in their
entire being.

“For 115 minutes, we dreaded that
the final game of the World Cup would be decided by penalty kicks.

And then, Fernando Torres was
finally put on. Personally, I wasn’t expecting much from him – after several
surgeries, Torres has never really come back to his previous level of playing
and had not managed to score a goal throughout the entire World Cup.

But, in the eleventh hour, Torres
came through to start a beautiful series of passes in the Dutch box that
enabled Iniesta to score.”

George Town centre-forward Tex
Whitelocke said: “The World Cup started off slow with few flashy performances
but there was so much drama with the USA scoring in the dying seconds to
Iniesta pulling out the winner. A lot of magic was missing in the World Cup,
like no Ronaldhino, Nani or Quaresma but hard work proved to be really valuable
to Holland as they kicked Brazil out of the competition. All in all the competition
was very competitive! Congratulations to all the Spain fans. Barcelona was the
core of the Spain team and it proved effective that building a national team
around the best team in the world was and is the best thing coach Vicente del
Bosque could ever do!”

Radia journalist Koro Vaka’uta
said: “I felt the best team on paper and in recent years won the final. It
wasn’t the most attractive final but made up for it in tension and physicality
illustrated by the number of cards handed out. The Dutch squandered their few
opportunities which was always going to be pivotal when playing as clear
underdogs, in my opinion. Both sides played tight due to the occasion but
Iniesta capped a nice tournament with the winner and Fabregas made a difference
when he came on. My highlight of the tournament was New Zealand finishing as
the only undefeated team in the World Cup!”

sports story

Many locals predicted Spain to take home the coveted World Cup trophy.
Photo: Ron Shillingford