Our favourite moments so far: How a dull World Cup sprang to life
Saturday 19 June 2010
The tournament's marvellous opening goal by South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala against Mexico: the perfect party starter. For a little while it seemed that Bafana Bafana would give the tournament what it always needs – the impetus of emotion building around the home team. It turned out, almost certainly, to be an illusion – but a brilliant one.
There have been precious few stand-out performances in a World Cup in which the standard of football has been notably average. Switzerland's victory over Spain was the shock result but you could hardly call a scrappy goal and a defensive siege a highlight. So it has to be Mexico's win over France – the Mexicans play good football.
Uruguay's Diego Forlan, demonstrating that the almighty Premier League isn't always right about who it chews up and spits out. The prospect of England v Uruguay; Carragher v Forlan in the quarters, is something for us to fear, if last season's Europa League semi-final is a gauge.
Watching Lionel Messi orchestrate Argentina's two wins so far has been a pleasure. He may not have found the net but he has had a hand in most of Diego Maradona's side's goals with little feints, tricks and dummies that light up a game. He has also come close to scoring with some delightful curled efforts. It's a matter of when not if.
The sheer joy with which South Africans of all colours have embraced the tournament. The World Cup is omnipresent and, while everyone accepts the country still has many problems, most people seem to have consciously put those issues aside for a month to enjoy the World Cup. On that basis, Siphiwe Tshabalala's goal in the opening game is the highlight for the joy it brought.
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