On the field and off it, we recount the beautiful and ugly moments of the first round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
RVP’s wonder goal against Spain
Robin van Persie’s wonderful diving header for Holland against Spain is destined to be among the defining moments of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. No controversies. The goal came when Daley Blind fired a diagonal ball from the halfway line, and from out wide on the left wing. The Manchester United striker then raced from outside the penalty area to meet the ball but despite most fans expecting him to volley it into the net, the Dutchman threw himself through the air and managed to lob the Spanish keeper Iker Casillas with his header. “It is the best goal of my career,” Van Persie said later. “It was a brilliant goal; even I have to say that.” We say so, too.
Spain 1, Holland 5
It was redemption for Arjen Robben and the Netherlands after a reversal of fortunes from the 2010 final and a much better game of football. This match will remain a World Cup classic, not just for RVP’s first goal (see above) and Robben’s second but for its entertainment value, a sharp contrast to the kick fest in Johannesburg. The guys at 88.9 Brila FM will surely have said “…Spain fell 1, 2,3,4,5 goals to the Netherlands…” in their match report. The emphatic win deserves all the noise.
Costa Rica’s roller coaster ride
Costa Rica and Honduras were everybody’s tip to finish rock-bottom of their groups. Honduras didn’t disappoint — they played three and lost all three. But Costa Rica did, coming top of Group D after beating Uruguay 3-1, Italy 1-0 and playing a goalless draw with England after already booking a round-of-16 ticket. They played without fear and with an unshakable team spirit.
Song’s new talent
Cameroon’s midfielder, Alex Song may well have discovered his true calling during the World Cup. The Barcelona bit-part player can look forward to World Wrestling Entertainment for a career switch, after striking Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic in the back with his elbow in an off-the-ball incident. As his teammates Mbia and Moukandjo were arguing with each other after a mix-up, Song was sprinting behind Mandzukic, who appeared to slow down and cause a collision. Song continued running after him and elbowed him from behind. The referee was perfectly placed and had no hesitation in showing him the red card. Sad tune from Song.
Still on Cameroon and the game against Croatia. Just moments before they were eliminated from contention at the 2014 World Cup, two teammates got involved in a physical altercation on the field at Arena Amazonia in Manaus. In the 90th minute of the 4-0 loss to Croatia, defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo. The intra-team clash had to be broken up by another teammate, Pierre Webo. And if the yardstick for advancing to the next round of the World Cup is infighting, then Cameroon would have topped their group!
Suarez can’t stop…biting
It is now official: you’re more likely to be bitten by Luis Suarez than a shark, according to some pretty awesome statistics. Liverpool and Uruguay striker Suarez had already bitten two players during his 441-match professional career, before he decided to take a chunk out of Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy. It means that Suarez, on the average, if he faces 14 players in a match (11 starters and three subs), bites one in every 2000 players, which works out as one bite every 147 matches. And according to numbers crunched by the New Statesman, it means you’re more likely to be bitten by Suarez than a shark. Sharks, statistically, bite one in every 3.7million people swimming in the ocean. You’re also more likely to be bitten by Suarez than experience any of the following: 5. Being stuck by lightening (1/10,000) 4. Dying from a bee or wasp sting (1/75,852 3. Being shot in the US (1/6509) 2. Experience a tsunami while living near coast (1/50,000) 1. Hit by an asteroid (1/700,000) All numbers and stats via New Statesman.
Herrera’s lively celebrations
There have been some great celebrations and histrionics from managers but none beats those of Mexico coach, Miguel Herrera. In this case, picture speaks louder than text! Mexico will face the Netherlands on Sunday, and if they score, then more facial expressions from Herrera are sure to follow.
Ochoa save against Brazil
Guillermo Ochoa put on a superb performance for Mexico against Brazil, with the pick being his stop from Neymar. It wasn’t better than Gordon Banks from Pele back in 1970, but it was easy to see why people made the comparison in the first place. Midway through the first half, it looked like a header by Neymar was going to be good enough to put Brazil ahead but Ochoa came up with a spectacular save to rob Neymar of a goal. Even Banks will be impressed.
Black Stars playing for their coun(cash)try
Asamoah Gyan and co. demanded payment reportedly exceeding $3 million – in cash – before their game with Portugal. They got their wish and millions of dollars came off a plane and cruised down the highway in Brazil to the team’s camp. Talk about money on wheels!
Nigeria’s first win in 10 attempts
It will be improper to exclude the Super Eagles from our notable moments from the first round, and I’m sure you all agree. So, our first World Cup victory, a 1-0 win against Bosnia, since France’98 1-0 win over Bulgaria is a notable moment. When you calculate the interval between the two victories in seconds you will, once again, agree with us. As the round-of-16 begins on Saturday with a mouth-watering clash between hosts Brazil and giant killers Chile, TheCable is sure to monitor notable moments that football fans all over the world will be eager to relive before the commencement of the quarter-finals.