|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, July 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
World Cup of upsets, blunders
The 17th soccer World Cup which concluded on June 30 will be more remembered for the series of upsets and refereeing blunders than for feats of individual brilliance by the world's best footballers. Right from the opening match till the final, the World Cup sprang surprises unlike previous editions when the favourites usually edged past unfancied rivals.
play role in sports promotion
dreams of a poor nation
Cup of upsets, blunders
The 17th soccer World Cup which concluded on June 30 will be more remembered for the series of upsets and refereeing blunders than for feats of individual brilliance by the world's best footballers. Right from the opening match till the final, the World Cup sprang surprises unlike previous editions when the favourites usually edged past unfancied rivals. Senegal set the ball rolling with the first big shock as Pape Diop's match winner against defending champions France put paid to the former champions aspirations. The French sorely missed the services of key striker Zinedine Zidane, who injured himself a few days before the commencement of the World Cup. By the time Zidane made himself available, the French were fighting a losing battle and ultimately crashed out at the end of the opening round.
The same fate awaited favourites Italy, Argentina, and England, but the Italians as also the Spaniards cried foul alleging refereeing errors. In fact the match between hosts South Korea and Spain was clearly marked by refereeing blunders as at least three goals were disallowed sparking allegations of an Asian conspiracy. Two were disputed off-side calls while the third was disallowed by the linesman on the ground that the ball had crossed the goal-line while TV replays clearly showed that the ball had not gone out of play. Portugal, Mexico, and the USA also levelled similar charges. In the quarter-final between Germany and the USA, Oliver Neuville of Germany was wrongly yellow-carded by Scottish referee Hugh Dallas. A foul committed by a team-mate was attributed to him and it was only after an appeal by the Germans that Neuville was cleared.
However, irrespective of the allegations, there is no denying of the fact that many new teams made their presence felt at the World Cup. Among the most notable achievements was Asian powerhouse South Korea’s entry into the semifinals at the cost of higher ranked teams. The Koreans had not won any match in the history of the World Cup previously. Japan also put up an impressive performance although the same cannot be said of Saudi Arabia who suffered the biggest 0-8 defeat at the hands of runners-up Germany in the opening round, and China.
Senegal proved to be another surprise team as they went from strength to strength and ultimately reached the last four. Playing their first World Cup like Equador, Senegal proved really tough after their shock 1-0 win over France. After being held by the Danes to a 1-1 draw, Senegal drew with Uruguay 3-3 which spelt doom for France.
The most remarkable progress was made by the Germans, three-time winners, and one man who was outstanding was skipper Oliver Kahn. Kahn proved to be a wall of defence and throughout the World Cup, he conceded only three goals, including two by Brazil's Ronaldo in the final. Although Rudi Voeller's team had come with lower expectations leaving behind experienced stars like Sebastian Deisler, Mehmet Scholl, Christian Woerns and Jens Novotny, who were all on the injured list, several others proved equally good. Young Polish striker Miroslav Klose was indeed a find of the World Cup and his hat-trick against Saudi Arabia made him a strong contender for the Golden Boot Award which finally went to Ronaldo.
Semifinalists Turkey were yet another surprise outfit. No one could have imagined a last four-berth for the Turks prior to the start of the World Cup and their hard-fought entry into the semifinals came as a big surprise.
The USA, seeking redemption after the lacklustre showing in the previous edition, made a strong impact this time and their 3-2 victory over Portugal at Suwon on June 5 was one of the major upsets of the World Cup. The last-eight berth was just reward for Bruce Arena's team and in the coming years, the Americans are expected soar higher if Project 2010 is any indication.
Overall, the 17th World
Cup proved to be a big hit and unlike previous editions, it remained
free from hooliganisn and ticketing scandals. The series of upsets
notwithstanding, order was restored by France and Germany although the
final did not rise to dizzy heights like the England-Argentina clash. A
total of 161 goals were scored, 10 less than last time. New stars like
Senegal's Khalilou Fadiga and El-Hadji Diouf, Japan's Junichi Inamoto,
Turkey's Ilhan Mansiz and Hasan Sas and South Korea's Ahn Jung-Hwan left
a lasting impression while Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta, Italy's Paolo
Maldini besides Fernando Hierro and many more bid adieu leaving enough
room for more promising stars to come to the fore when the next edition
gets under way in Germany in 2006.
Ten of the best in World Cup
They were the stars that lit up the World Cup — ten of the best:
The Brazilian striker was the player of the tournament. Top scorer with eight goals, he scored both goals in the final and found the net in six out of seven games. His comeback from four injury-wracked years brought universal acclaim and at 25 he could still be around for the 2006 finals in Germany. But will his operation-scarred knees hold out that long?
The revelation of the tournament. At 22, the little midfielder came of age at these finals and his stunning goal and assist in the 2-1 quarter-final win over England will live long in memory. Missed the semi-final through suspension, but was back at his probing best in the final. Could be a force in international football for years to come, and the European big clubs are lining up to sign him from Paris St Germain.
Michael Ballack (Germany)
His absence in the final through suspension, left Germany with few attacking options. He took command of a German midfield bereft of its star players due to injuries and stamped his authority on the side. He was also a potent threat in front of goal scoring the winners against the United States in the quarter-finals against South Korea in the semi-finals. Rudi Voller can build the side around him for Euro 2004 in Portugal.
Hasan Sas (Turkey)
He emerged as the driving force behind Turkey’s unexpected drive to the semi-finals combining ultra-fast breaks from midfield with incisive finishing. With one-time leading light Hakan Sukur out of sorts, he was the man the Turks looked to break down opposition defences as their own rearguard looked solid and reliable. Will be the mainstay of Turkey’s Euro 2004 challenge starting with the qualifiers against England.
Ahn Jung-Hwan (South Korea)
He epitomised the Korean storm that blew away Portugal, Italy and Spain before crashing into the German defensive wall in the semi-finals. His golden goal against Italy will remain one of the abiding memories of the finals and his club Perugia’s outrageous outburst against him for defeating Italy made headlines around the world. He finally proved he can perform on the world stage, but is unlikely to have inspirational coach Guus Hiddink directing him in the future.
Oliver Kahn (Germany)
His costly mistake allowing Brazil’s opening goal in the final only served to underline the immensity of his overall performance. His saves almost single-handedly dragged an efficient but limited German side into the final. Voted goalkeeper of the finals, he is also now the undisputed best stopper in the world, but at 33 he has probably played in his last World Cup finals.
Fernando Hierro (Spain)
Spain’s captain and all-time top-scorer bowed out of international football with a series of commanding displays that foundered against South Korea in a controversial quarter-final. Never let his country down through 13 years of duty winning 89 caps. He will concentrate on playing for European champions Real Madrid and Spain will have a massive hole to fill at the heart of their defence.
El-Hadji Diouf (Senegal)
Diouf came to the World Cup with a reputation for trouble- making and left as one of the top four strikers of the entire tournament. His selection in the all-star team was a deserved reward for the peroxide blond 21-year-old, who led Senegal on a brilliant run to the quarter-finals on their World Cup debut, leaving France and Sweden in their wake.
Diouf did not actually score himself but his electric pace and pinpoint passing set up goals for team-mates — and earned him a big-money move to English giants Liverpool which is set to be completed this week. His time on the world stage will surely come again.
Claudio Reyna (United States)
Sunderland midfielder Reyna proved a star in the World Cup on and off the field. On it, he drove his side demonically against Germany in a quarter-final the Americans could have won as he sprayed passes around the field. Off the field, he impressed reporters with his linguistic capabilities, giving interviews in English, Spanish and German.
Reyna (28), was one of his side’s top performers as they made the last eight.
Rio Ferdinand (England)
Rio Ferdinand came of age in England’s defence alongside Sol Campbell and he vowed to get over the pain of a quarter-final exit to Brazil by winning a major international title in the next four years.
Pele rated him highly enough to put the defender in his own all-stars team. AFP
Disappointed with home sponsors, the Indian Golf Union (IGU) has been able to secure patronage if Japan’s leading firm, Mizune, to promote junior golf and golfers. This is a step in the right direction because the better the standard of junior golf, the better will be the quality of professional golf.
The Mizune officials, who had flown to Delhi to provide ultra-modern equipment to five budding players, were emphatic in their declaration that the promising Indian players would no longer be at a loss for proper equipment.
While presenting golf sets and other equipment to five youngsters — Jaskirat Singh Dullet (Punjab), Ranjeet Singh (Kolkata), Karan Vasudevs, Aditya Singh and Karan Talwar (all Delhi), Mizune’s Senior Manager (Asia Oceania) Naoki Nakatani assured the boys: "We are focused to serve you and your cause of golf".
The IGU has done its bit in signing an MOU with the Royal Sporting House in securing costly equipment for the boys. But the IGU’s duty does not end here. It only starts. Its officials should see to it that the boys stay focused and work diligently to improve their technique and temperament. There is no success without pain and the boys, who are wanting in effort, should be replaced with youngsters, who are willing to work hard.
Mizune firm’s spontaneous help should induce home sponsors to cater to the needs of the junior players instead of looking for only a few "glamour pros". There is talent and talent has got to be nurtured by the concerned authorities, like, the IGU and the PGAI and sponsors, some of whom are reaping harvest of advantages through golf.
The reason for Japan producing better golfers than India is not Japanese love golf and play the game seriously and with dedication. There are more golf addicts in Japan than even in the USA. Japanese translate their official tours and trips into golf vacations. A sizable quantum of Japanese tourists visit Delhi more to play golf than to do sight-seeing. They pay ‘green fee’ which, according to them, is much lesser than what they have to pay back in their country.
Milkha Singh and Nirmal were on the course when their son Jeev became the first Indian to qualify for the US Open. Then Jeev’s sisters flew to New York to motivate him to make the cut. It was great to see some Indian doing the country proud in golf.
Jeev could not raise his game to dizzy heights on the concluding two days, that is, Saturday and Sunday, and could not advance much as he struggled with his iron play.
Those, who have been monitoring Jeev’s progress intensely, are of the firm belief that he has to put some iron (steel) in his mind to perform better than he does on the final two days. Statistics show that he usually plays well on the first two days and slips on the concluding two days.
The international competitions are played more with the mind than with mere foot and hand. Jeev has to have his father’s steely nerves to make greater inroads in the international competitions than he has done so far.
Tiger Woods, who won the US Open on that hazardous course, and Vijay Singh feel that Jeev has everything that a golfer should have. What he has to sharpen is his temperament and that will carry him on higher road than he has so far achieved.
After resting for a while in New York, Jeev is now busy playing in the Japan circuit.
play role in sports promotion
The manner in which Kartar Singh, the Director of Sports, Punjab, organised the Punjab Rural Sports meet at Jalandhar speaks volumes about his ability to manage sports activities. It also augurs well for sports in this state, sportsmen and lovers of sports. The most encouraging aspect of the games was the presence of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in good strength at the meet. They were present at the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony and also during the programme of various events. The presence of NRIs at the meet was due to the personal relations Kartar Singh has with them and the efforts he made to have them in Punjab for the meet from far away places like England, Germany and other countries.
Baba Kartar Singh and Kanwaljit Singh (both from England) have offered to open wrestling and kabaddi academies in Punjab and meet all expenses in running them. This is a welcome step for the promotion of sports in general and these two games in particular. The NRIs were always there to provide help for the sporting activities in the state but what was needed was someone who could tell them what to do and where. The NRIs have found such a person in Kartar Singh.
During the various visits to a number of countries in connection with the game of badminton, I have met many Indians who originally belonged to the rural area of the state of Punjab. They are interested in doing something for their native places. May be this is one of the reasons that they continue to help in organising tournaments in their home towns. But these efforts by the NRIs have not resulted in throwing up good players. All the participants got the cash incentives and the organisers financial aid to run the games/tournaments. These small-level tournaments cannot help in building up terms for the simple that they are not properly organise and they have no objective to help in the promotion of any particular sport.
Most of the NRIs are from rural background and are mainly interested in kabaddi and wrestling as these two are the most popular games in rural areas and the stadium are full when these games are organised in any area. A corollary to this is that these two games get most of what NRIs spend on sports in their native areas.
Since the Punjab Government is short of funds at the moment, the NRIs can prove to be our best bet for helping the development sports in the state. To secure their help it will be essential to have the NRIs in some sort of organisation connected with the development of sports. For this the NRIs may see the coming up of good academics, tournaments and also sponsored visits abroad for the players. A beginning can be made in the sports of kabaddi and wrestling and then other fields can be explored. Good results in the games of kabaddi and wrestling can go a long way in encouraging NRIs to help other games like table tennis, handball, volleyball, athletics and badminton.
of a poor nation
India may be among the poorest nations in the world and perhaps also among the most troubled and mismanaged but it must be acknowledged that it is also the one country that lives on hope and floats dreams in which to nurture its ambitions. How else can one describe the bombshell dropped by the Sports Minister. India will bid for the 2012 Olympic Games! One must admire the guts of the Minister and the people who advise her.
India, which has not won an individual gold in any of the Olympics and despite sending large contingents of participants, officials and observers, has one of the poorest records as far as achievement is concerned is suddenly fired up with ambition to host the most glamorous of all the multi-discipline extravaganzas, the Olympic Games. Nothing wrong in wanting to do big things but surely the ground realities has also to be considered first.
One is forced to take this proposal more seriously this time since it has emanated from no less a person than the Minister of Sports. Earlier proposals of this nature normally had its bearings in the Indian Olympic Association and allied units. The Minister, obviously, has been wrongly advised.
With rare exceptions the Olympic Games is generally bid for and hosted by nations which are financially viable and figure among the developed categories. Plus of course almost all of them have a sports culture and provide the public with the best of amenities. More importantly, these facilities are used by the public.
Compare these minimum ground rules obtaining in developed countries to the ones existing in India. First and foremost in a country still struggling to feed and educate all of its vast millions, sports is only a secondary factor, followed and practised by a selective few. Facilities are almost not-existent and those that are built for special occasions like the National Games are generally forgotten once the Games are over. Maintenance has never been a strong point with India. Delhi is an example.
So much money and time was spent on building new stadiums and upgrading the old ones for the Asian Games of 1982. By every count the games were a success even if India did not do all that well. But once the Games were over the stadiums were left to rot, fell into disuse. With the result that the government had to spend crores of rupees to upgrade them all over again for the Afro-Asian Games, a project which took a long time to get off the ground but was grounded more than once before the last one in September 2001. There is now talk of reviving the project all over again with October-November 2003 as possible dates for the Games but even before that idea has taken roots, the Sports Minister had floated this grandiose dream of the Olympic Games. At best the Afro Asia Games was and is an ill-conceived project and if held will most likely to be the first and last of its type.
In case it survives and a second edition is ever held then it will be competition without an Indian participating. the organisers of the Afro-Asian Games have not thought beyond the first one to be held in Delhi. And now India’s ambitions appeared to have soared. It wants to bid for the Olympic Games.
It is time India stopped dreaming of things beyond the realm of Indians. It is time that more emphasis is laid on facilities and training for sportsmen and sportswomen within the country.
Brazil make football history
Kudos to Brazil who obliterated the unpleasant and traumatic memories of 1998 by winning the coveted football World Cup for the record fifth time. They redeemed themselves and made history by routing Germany 2-0 in the final. And the hero of their fantastic victory was Ronaldo who netted twice to help his side romp home with the much sought after trophy. Thus he became the highest goal scorer of the tournament. The final was evenly contested. The Germans excelled in defending their citadel but the Brazilians, playing free flowing soccer, outwitted their opponents as Ronaldo and Rivaldo’s onslaught pierced the German defence in the second half. Congratulations to Brazil on their spectacular win. I thank The Tribune for giving massive coverage to the World Cup.
Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala
It was really astonishing to see Rivaldo and Ronaldo setting the better of rival defences time and again. The World Cup hardly gave any time to think about any other sport. I love Brazil but isn’t it possible for us to cheer up our own nation? Selecting 11 persons from the massive population should not be a tough job.
Rajan Parmar, Dharamsala
I congratulate the Brazilian foot- ball team for lifting the World Cup for the fifth time. Ronaldo deserves all praise as he scored two goals against tough rivals Germany. The Korean team also deserves applause since it made history by entering the semifinals from Asia. Regretfully, despite a population of a billion India are nowhere in the arena of world football. We bow our heads in shame when we see tiny countries qualifying for the World Cup.
Bansi Ram, Garhshanker