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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

It begins!!

Finally it’s starting. We’ve waited four years since the last but now its here!

When you woke up this morning were you excited? Did it seem like the world had a pleasant gloss when you looked out your window?

Football, and in particular today the World Cup, is a more than a sport and while that sounds like a cliche there is significant truth to that statement.

In the past we have seen conflict and hatred between nations put aside to allow the beautiful game its moment. Do you remember USA v. Iran? Everyone thought it would be an ill-tempered game fueled by poor political relationships. In reality it was a well-mannered game between two respectful opponents.

This time around in South Africa North Korea have qualified for the tournament proper with what is mostly a team of unknowns.

We might all assume that this team is made up of dour individuals who are oppressed by The Leader and His expectations. However, if at any time there is good sportsmanship between a North Korean and an opponent or if there is a handshake of mutual respect between solemn gladiators then the oppression that we all know exists in their country will be defeated if but for a short while.

The World Cup is bigger than the host nation and it is bigger than the ultimate winner. Huge salaries are put aside and only national pride and love for your fellow human beings is required.

This is why I’m excited. There is nothing more beautiful.

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New Dutch World Cup 2010 Home Shirt

Alright let’s talk a little fashion! 

I’ve looked all over and I haven’t had a lot of success finding the new home shirt for the World Cup.  There is plenty of information floating around for the away shirt but very little for the home shirt.

Low and behold my local store has it!  I managed to grab an image as well as a TERRIBLE video.  Yes the video is very very bad but it briefly summarizes the main features for Nike’s latest offering. 

The Dutch kits of late have been creative.  The shirt for Euro 2008 was beautiful with a lot of small details appreciated by everyone.  This time out the shirt has been scaled back in terms of flash.  We are back to a more traditional look with black being the secondary colour.  The first time I saw this shirt I thought immediately of the 1974 kit worn by the legendary Cruyff and Company.  Ironically that kit was made by Adidas and not Nike.  There are also some similarities to the Euro 2000 kit.

Features are sparse as I alluded too.  “NEDERLAND” appears at the nape of the neck while an oblong flag appears on the inside.  For the 2006 World Cup we had a well designed collar while in the 2008 Euro tournament we had a half white and half red/white/blue collar.  This time around we have a traditional crew neck with black trim.

The most interesting feature is on the inside of the shirt and will never be seen by anyone looking at you.  It was this feature that made me want to take the video.  Inside the shirt on the reverse of the KNVB badge there are the worlds “Oranje Leeuwen” which translates to Orange Lions.  I like the touch and Nike have included this on the away shirt as well.

I don’t think this is the most exciting football shirt I’ve seen.  I won’t be running out to pick this one up (although I may have told a little white lie to the store employee in order to convince them to let me make a video in their store).  It’s my understanding this shirt will be paired with all black shorts with white trim.  There are some online stores that are selling the new home shirt while it is beginning to creep into stores.  We can expect wider availability as we get closer South Africa where our Oranje Leeuwen will be looking svelte in their throwback shirts.

Key Men in South Africa: Arjen Robben

I was thinking recently about the Dutch team as a complete unit. 

There are weaknesses.  But then name a country that has none: only Spain perhaps is near the goal of a perfectly balanced and even side. 

This reality forces us to really examine our sides if we want to gauge any upcoming success.  So let’s talk Oranje then.  There are holes in the defence and there are holes in the midfield.  Up front there are more pegs than holes and the difficulty is fitting the right peg in the … well you get the slightly overcomplicated idea. 

Arjen Robben represents the best aspects of Dutch attacking power rolled into a single individual.  He has pace on the wing and he can certainly cross a ball. 

His most important trait though is his combination of pace and his ability to cut inside on his marker and shot at goal.  Robben enjoyed muted success at both Chelsea and Real Madrid.  The confounding point is his talent has never been in doubt.  Instead he has often been likened to some type of fine dinner china in the hands of a child.  Fragile.  He’s definitely found a vein of strength though and has been the most significant acquisition by Bayern Munich this year.  He has single-handedly kept Bayern in the hunt for the Champions League and the Bundesliga.

It’s hard to imagine a more critical member of the squad.  Sneijder looks to be a crucial cog in the machine but Sneijder requires a lethal finisher to be the tip to his blade.  Robben is hilt, blade, tip, and sheath.  He can provide that single piece of attacking devastation from within himself. 

Sneijder and Robben combined below against France to score one of the most remarkable goals I’ve ever seen. 

The pass from Sneijder is key but ultimately Robben’s pace, dribbling ability and accurate left foot are what create the goal.  Scintillating stuff.  The Oranje can’t rely on their world renowned defence to carry them to glory.  As meager as they were in qualifying they will most certainly rely on the attacking storm they can create to overwhelm their opponents.