Sunday, July 29, 2007


So to the final

So Japan now have to qualify for the Asian Cup 2011 but the one thing that struck me about yesterdays 3/4th place play off was the penalties. The first 10 were pretty well struck as smoothly and sweetly as you could expect and it isn't often you get 10 pens hitting the mark like that. Which of course begs the question. Why the hell weren't the players so damned accurate during the 120 minutes of open play this sparing us from the lottery of a spot kick finish?

Iraq go into today's final as the punter's choice if not the bookies. There was an interview with the Iraqi goalkeeper just after their semi final victory over South Korea and you could see the emotion shaking his whole body, this tournamnet means so much for him and the players. For once Iraq dominates headlines in a positive manner. It would be nice if this had a positive effect back home but I fear the last thing some of the puppet masters in their homeland want is a peaceful, united Iraq.

Some have of course pointed out that a Saudi v Iraq final is evidence of West Asia's superiority, especially in light of the best of North East Asia falling at the final hurdle and I don't doubt the corridors of power in the East will be scratching their heads over what happened and why. Japan and South Korea have strong domestic leagues and a legion of players doing their thing overseas yet it is insular Saudi and nomadic Iraq who have triumphed.

Perhaps the real winners have been the South East Asian hosts with the exception of sorry Malaysia. Thailand played well in their group games up until the last 10 minutes of their game with Australia when Tim Cahill tore them apart. Vietnam impressed against Iraq and Indonesia of course have been frequently praised here. The ASEAN nations maybe a generation away from competing on equal terms with the more traditional Asian powerhouses but they showed the potential.

Politics aside, who would you rather babysit your child? A politician or a football hooligan? A hooligan obviously. They have a loyalty to their mates, their club. A politician has a loyalty only to himself...but politics aside let's just hope today's final is as mad as the recent Saudi Arabia games and that both teams put on the kind of show that has been missing from recent high profile finals.

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