TV View: When you end up nearly feeling sorry for Luis Suárez, this is no ordinary World Cup

A remote control in one hand and a calculator in the other on another crazy day

When you end up nearly feeling sorry for Luis Suárez, you know this is no ordinary World Cup, Friday afternoon serving up more drama than you could get your teeth in to, another simultaneous-final-group-games feast.

So, once again we were required to have a remote control in one hand and a calculator in the other. In Rio Ferdinand’s case, he should also have had an icepack resting on his forehead.

“I need to go ‘ave a wash — I’m sweatin’,” he said come full-time after the drama of the regulation 108-ish minutes in the South Korea v Portugal and Ghana v Uruguay tussles, his mate Gary Lineker concluding that football was “brutal, breathtaking and brilliant”. Occasionally bonkers, too.

Also burdensome, of course, when you’re trying to watch two games at the same time, and develop the knack for switching to the second one just before something stupendous happens in the first, your commentator breaking the bad news to you, but by the time you turn back the moment is gone and, meanwhile, something stupendous has happened in the game you just left. First World problems, granted, but still.


The build-up to the Ghana v Uruguay game was, need it be said, salty, although it was 2010 when Luis handled that ball, so you’d think Ghana would have moved on by now. It’d be different if a nation suffered such an egregious bit of cheating as far back as, say, 2009.

Anyway, there was no shortage of Va Va Voom in both games, so in case you actually have to work for a living and missed it all: Portugal scored and then Ghana missed a penalty and Uruguay scored and South Korea scored and Uruguay scored again, and then South Korea took the lead in injury time which meant Uruguay had to score again, but they didn’t so they, like Ghana, were out and South Korea and Portugal were through.

That was only the half of it, really, but at least you have the gist.

The tears bucketed down, from an inconsolable Luis on the Uruguayan bench, to Son Heung-min back in Al Rayyan, not to mention his euphoric compatriots in the stands.

No moment, though, was more striking than when the South Korean team gathered around a mobile phone in the centre of the pitch to watch the closing minutes of the Uruguay game, knowing if the South Americans scored again they’d be out. And then the final whistle blew and the South Koreans danced like there was no tomorrow. Ruddy marvellous. Although, God be with the days when you held a transistor radio to your ear to get this class of news.

South Korea’s reward is a meeting with Brazil, and once they beat them they’ll play the winners of Japan and Croatia.

Okay, that’s been a touch presumptuous, but look it, if Gary can do it, why can’t we?

It was half-time when he turned his attention to England, asking Al Shearer and Rio to name their teams for Sunday’s meeting with Senegal.

That they did, their only difference the deployment or non-deployment of Mason Mount. Both, though, agreed that Kyle Walker should keep his place at right-back over Kieran Trippier.

“Gentlemen, I’m going to have to say something here, I think you’ve both missed a trick,” said Gary. “Kyle Walker should NOT be in England’s team to play Senegal.”


“Because England cannot afford for Walker to get injured because he’s probably just about the only full-back on the planet who can compete with Kylian Mbappé — why would you take the risk of him getting injured?”

Ah God, Gary.

“I don’t want to be arrogant and say we’re taking Senegal for granted ... but.”

That could well have been the biggest “but” in the history of association football.

Later in the day, Clare MacNamara asked Joey N’Do for his prediction for the Cameroon v Brazil game. Fair enough, we haven’t actually checked the records, but it might have been the first time in history that a pundit sang a forecast.

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine — tonight guys, let it shiiiiine,” he crooned.

RTÉ need to make sure he’s on the couch for England v Senegal. You can hear it now at full-time.

“They thought Kyle should have a rest,

Because Senegal would be no test.

Tonight, the Lions of Teranga

sure let it shiiiiiiiiiine.”

Followed by a dance around the studio.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times