Friday, June 16, 2006

The Elephants Head Home

Now that was a game!

After too many matches that have featured pairings of frustratingly mediocre sides that ought to be playing a whole lot better than they are with "just happy to be there" upstarts, or strong and creative and interesting squads dominating their far weaker opponents, or the meeting of two so-so teams, the clash between the Netherlands and Cote d'Ivoire proved to be, as Tommy Smyth cried excitedly, "A cracking game!" I am torn between saying I wish this had been a draw, because Cote d'Ivoire deserved a point and a chance to advance given their performance, and saying that the Netherlands certainly deserved all three points for triumphing in the end over the formidable and determined debutant-but-doubtless-to-return Elephants.

It is, of course, too bad that the Cote d'Ivoire drew this group, because they surely would have gone through against many of the other teams in these opening rounds. But they were fantastic and can head home with pride--and the Netherlands can go forward with pride as well. If only we saw this kind of vigor in all the matches!

I was pulling for Cote d'Ivoire, even though Emmanuel Eboue had me wondering for a while there when he tried the same diving stunts he did in the Champions' League Final by going down in the penalty area early on (hey, it worked then--I guess he figured why mess with a good thing?)--the ref just told him to get up, but then he was like the boy who cried wolf, because later on it looked like he did bang up his shoulder some and it took a little while for anyone to go over to him (and I myself was muttering ah, get up, you! at the TV). But I can't be too disappointed in the Dutch victory--who wouldn't like to at least imagine the hazy crazy days of the Clockwork Orange and Total Football making a comeback?

Luck proved not to be on the Elephants' side in this match--at several moments they seemed mere centimeters away from an equalizer following Kone's powerful 39th minute strike. In the end, it wasn't to be, but I'll have my eye on Cote d'Ivoire next time. This is a squad that could really shake things up just as the tournament--and the rest of the world--begins to truly acknowledge their continent's growing significance in the footballing world when South Africa hosts in 2010.


Zach Dundas said...

Cote d'Ivoire is definitely the best team to be eliminated so far—unfortunately. They're great to watch, and it's sad that they're going home when so many stultifying—cough, England, cough—teams are moving on.

Derek said...

I agree, especially after just watching the Netherlands/Cote d'Ivoire match on tape.

The whole England debacle/win has really left a bad taste in my mouth. I want them to do well--hell, I'm actively rooting for them! But if the Three Lions continue to play as they have . . . perhaps I need to look at myself in the mirror a little harder. Sure hope T&T can pull through and stun the world!

The Fan's Attic said...

I am truly sad to see the Elephants not advance. If only they were a bit more technically sound.