Friday, June 23, 2006


The rivers mouth and the gate of misfortune

Ultimately, Japan weren't good enough to compete with Brazil. This did not much surprise us; Brazil have, after all, won the World Cup on no less than five occasions, whereas Japan are all 5' 10".

Be that as it may, Japan led the World Champions for a brief period and, had they not conceded in the 45th minute of the game, I would have had at least 15 minutes more enjoyment out of the evening.

One of Japan's stars of the first half was the goalkeeper, Kawaguchi. I generally associate Kawaguchi with photogenic diving, ineffectual slapping at the ball and unnecessary goals conceded against the likes of North Korea. However, it seemed that adversity was bringing the best out of the camera-conscious custodian. On top of his remarkable penalty save against Croatia in the previous game, he was keeping Brazil's star-studded forward line at bay- not single-handedly, but using both hands and getting the ball to safety, as opposed to letting it rebound off his weedy arms to the edge of the six-yard box as is usually the case.

Chants of Kawaguchi, Kawaguchi rang around the bar; Andy, however, remained unconvinced.

"For God's sake, he's horrible- did you see him against Australia? It was like watching a dyslexic child trying to read the Arabic alphabet."

I was forced to agree. Worse was to come when the law of averages re-asserted itself sickeningly for Brazil's second goal. I'll paste in the words from the Guardian minute-by-minute; it still hurts me to think about it.

"As against Australia, Kawaguchi's performance drops from the sublime to the ridiculous. Juninho hits a fairly powerful shot from 25 yards just to the right of the keeper, which he flaps his hands at as if he was trying to put out a fire with a cloth. Sadly he got nowhere near it, and now looks more dejected than me when I had to put my curry in the fridge."

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