Are we really just 10 days into the World Cup?
Barry Murphy is continuing his football education as Algeria stick it to, eh, old rivals South Korea
Algeria’s Abdelmoumene Djabou celebrates scoring his team’s third goal against South Korea. Photograph: Marko Djurica/Reuters
The Cup of the World Championship Global Challenge continues apace with an unexpected and somewhat cruel continuation right the way through an all too rare sun-drenched Irish weekend. Day 10 (out of, lord preserve us, 25) saw some teams gamely giving up their weekend off to provide us with yet more soccer entertainment.
No doubt each match had some appeal for the fans of the respective countries involved but for the wildcard outsider viewer with nothing to lose, the undisputed peak of Saturday’s sporting summit was Germany v Ghana. Ghana gave great game, garnering grand glory; Germany grew gaga and gradually a gaggle of goals was generated from Gotze to Gyan.
Belgium v Russia on Sunday was, predictably enough, a grim affair, with both surly teams really soaking up Rio’s famed carnival atmosphere and then promptly rinsing it into the lavatory in a dressing room cubicle. Not even the pull of George Hamilton’s thrillingly encyclopaedic commentary could winch the match free from a quagmire of joyless tedium.
Back in the studio at half-time, two similarly-dressed guest presenters seemed to be in a psychedelically enhanced state, as for them the first half was akin to a white knuckle ride on a life-changing rollercoaster of Ronan Keating-esque magnitude. It could have been something Bill slipped into their drinks but it is more likely they had achieved some higher state of enlightenment just by basking in the glory of the RTE studio. Looking like a children’s painting competition hosted in a Bangkok brothel during Star Trek week, a mere minute spent behind the pundits desk could alter one’s consciousness irrevocably.
For some reason there was a lot of head-banging going on in the match itself (thankfully not in the latter day Metallica sense as that would just be silly, even in the eccentric arena of contemporary international football) which, though wince-enducing, provided a bit of respite from the usual tired old wounded soldier routines. Maybe the colliding of craniums was simply an attempt by the drowsy players to wake each other up? Though some players were clearly shaken afterwards, thankfully no physiotherapists were harmed in the clashes.
The soul-sapping scoreless stalemate continued almost until the end when the Belgians suddenly stun-gunned any spectators still awake with a sneaky winning goal, put away with trademark unforgettable flair by someone or other.
South Korea took on Algeria for the 8pm slot. They needn’t have bothered, as the mass slumber party brought on by the previous game (coupled with the unfortunate Glenroe scheduling clash) ensured a pretty dismal ratings result. Though pitch-side LED hoarding favourites Moy Park and Castrol Magnatec may have lost out on some exposure (initial figures suggest impromptu half-time shopping dashes for chicken Kievs and engine oil were way down), those who stuck it out were treated to some cracking manipulation of an inflated leather sphere.
No, they didn’t televise John Giles’ make-up artist at work - I’m talking Michelin-starred footballing, as only the Algerians know how. After an agonising 25 minutes of Poirot-worthy suspense, they really stuck it to their old rivals South Korea with a one-two-KO, i.e. they put three balls (i.e. the same ball twice in quick succession and then once again a little bit later on) past the South Korean keeper. In each case, the ball carried on beyond said keeper into the net, ensuring points were scored. 3-0 at half time, 4-2 at the final whistle, so an impressive overall 7-2 win for Algeria.
Of the day’s offerings, USA’s 2-2 draw with Portugal was definitely the one to watch, as the comfortably post-watershed broadcast time vastly increased the odds of seeing boobs when briskly flicking through the channels during the less exciting parts of the game. It’s fair to say ninety plus minutes three times a day spent staring at supremely fit (and occasionally, smoulderingly attractive) hunks can do things to a man, so the instinct to offset this unusually concentrated blast of televised testosterone is surely understandable and I’ll not apologise for it. Sadly, there was a dearth of mammaries on offer, though on the plus side I did score a nice mock Pandora bracelet for myself on QVC.