Ageism: 34 Mundial years added
Pallor: Healthy, for once. Okay, reasonably healthy. Well, actually I'm upright and there's no train to catch today, which is good enough.
Forecast: Sunny and clear
Coming out of Frankfurt train station Thursday night, two guys in Ghana colours were coming the other way, wearing flags and dressed in the colours and dancing up the streets, whistling out the beat: tweet-tweet-tweet tweet tweet, tweet-tweet-tweet tweet tweet, and so on.
|Celebrating in the streets of Accra, Ghana.|
I like keeping my media match tickets. At home, I have some going back to 1994. There's one from 2002 signed by Franz Beckenbauer, the only autograph I've ever asked for. But there are always cases where they are worth giving away, not to those poor souls who stand outside the stadium asking you for them so they can sell them on eBay, but in certain, special cases.
Two years ago at the Euro, I came out of my local subway station after covering the semifinal to find a mother and her young daughter standing on the curb, waving Portuguese flags to the onrushing traffic. Everyone in Lisbon was celebrating the semifinal win over archrival Spain, and this was their contribution. I couldn’t resist. I dug into my bag, pulled out the Spain-Portugal ticket, and handed it to the little girl. She was mystified, then realized what it was. She kept looking at it, blinking and looking up at me, then back down at the ticket. It was a perfect moment.
So as these two guys moved off, I had a flashback. I turned and looked back, and the two Ghanaians were a block away and moving pretty fast. I yelled. They didn’t hear me, blowing those whistles. So I started jogging back toward them. One of them ducked into the port-a-potty on the corner as I caught up. I dug into my backpack. The remaining fellow backed away, unsure and confused.
I fished out the match ticket from the Ghana-USA game. Handed it to him. He read it : Match 42, Ghana-USA, 22 June. He smiled.
“What is your name?” he asked.
I told him.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
“I will take a pen and write on it, ‘From Chris, with love to all Ghanaians, thank you.”
We shook hands. And I was heading back to the apartment. I looked back once. His pal had come out of the john and was looking back down the road at me, waving and blowing his whistle. There's one ticket that won't end up on eBay.
Kind of sappy, I know. Just another World Cup moment.
Today’s play: The deficit is at 29 euros after the Czechs went down in flames yesterday, although that Ghana win at 6-5 eased the sting. Five euros on South Korea to pour it on and edge the Swiss at a nice 3-to-1 on the board.
Ukraine 1, Tunisia 0. No surprise. Ukraine finishes runner-up in group, opponent TBA off tonight's results on Monday night in Cologne.
Spain 1, Saudi Arabia 0. Another dull one. Spain finishes unbeaten and untied, plays Tuesday night in Hanover against an opponent TBA.
Switzerland 2, South Korea 0. Didn't see this one on German TV, but the highlights sure gave the impression it was 50-50. Hey, look at this: Swiss win the group, haven't given up a goal yet and play the Ukraine on Monday in a pretty interesting matchup. Pay attention.
France 2, Togo 0. Patrick Vieira parties like its 1999, scoring a goal and setting up Thierry Henry for another. But geez, they should have put five in here. They get Zizou back for Spain on Tuesday, but I don't see them going beyond that.
Germany vs Sweden. Now we’re into the knockout stage and right off the bat it’s a worthy opponent for the hosts. Sweden are technically a very good team, much different than anyone Germany has faced. Home field edge is huge at this point – just remember South Korea four years ago, and France before that. This could be a really good one – wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a lot of goals, and perhaps it could even come down to penalties (note – there’s no Golden Goal rule here, so if any of the games go into extra time from here on in, they’ll play 30 minutes regardless, then if they’re still even go to penalty kicks). Germany 3, Sweden 2.
Argentina vs Mexico. Argentina played it very cagey in their last. They’ve got so much quality here, it’s hard to imagine them losing this one. Argentina 4, Mexico 1.