Posted: 6/29/2009
Title: ALMOST

Blog:                                                                                                                         

        When USA went up 2-0 in twenty seven minutes against the mighty Brasilians in Johannesburg, 5,500 ft(1 mile high, or 1,600 metres) up on the High Velt, you knew that whatever happened after that, it was a WIN for US SOCCER, as the underdogs showed that they are a top 10 team on the world stage, and that a quarter final place in next years FIFA World Cup finals, to equal their 2002 performance, is within reach.

        Three of the officials for this Confederations Cup Final were Swedish, and probably wearing yellow and blue underwear underneath their black uniforms, to match the Brasilians, but in fact referee Martin Hansson, a fireman from Holmsjo turned out to be fair, too fair, as a goal was denied in the second half, that from the correct camera angle, passed over the line and was cleared out by Tim Howard, much top the surprise of Kaka.  The fourth official was the dasterly Benito Archundia of Mexico who had screwed the USA in a World Cup eliminater in Central America a few years back. He is no relation to the NICE Alfonso Archudia,also a Mexican, who was the junior linesman to referee Jack Taylor at the 1974 World Cup Final in Munich's Olympiastadion.

        Clint Dempsey's deft finish and then captain Landon Donovan's glorious strike were from a team on fire. The turning point came 45 seconds after the break when Luis Fabiano scored with his left foot and it was GAME ON !  It then seemed a matter of time, for the Americans were hanging on grimly for dear life, and where without inspirational captain Michael Bradley, out with a red card. Fabiano equalised in the 74th minute and  captain Lucio applied the coup de grace, with a header from Elano's corner and Brasil retained the trophy. Brasilian Samba futebol prevailed.

        There were another 5 goals in the third place match in Rustenburg where Spain won in extra time over hosts South Africa 3-2.  It was a tournament that started slow, and warmed up as possible contenders Spain and Italy went by the way side, and the fans in those colourful shirts, adapted gold miners hats, Elton John like spectacles and outfits, blew their Vuvezelas constantly.

        From friends on the ground the reports of transport chaos sounded familiar. the GAUTRAIN, which supposedly will link Pretoria, the International Airport, Sandton the business area and downtown Johannesburg will NOT be available in a years' time. There were a mixture of free taxis and buses from Park and Ride areas, but the lines of fans overwhelmed them and the journeys were slow.

       The skies may be blue next year, but it can be very cold in the high altitude, and although Cape Town did not host matches this time, it will next year, and the constant cold rain last week was the worste in memory, so I was told. Bring the correct clothes and DON'T wear anything valuable.  but DON'T stay away. You are in for an experience of a lifetime.

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