By Paul Bassey
After a tortuous four year qualification journey that climaxed with 32 teams qualifying for the grand showdown in south Africa, yesterday, the field was reduced to eight, the famous eight, one in which any of the teams therein can lay claim and rightly too, to the most prized diadem in world sports.
By Yesterday, of the 64 matches, 56 had been played, eight to go, including the final match at the Soccer City on July 11.
Of the eight teams in the quarter final, only four former winners are present. No team from Asia, Ghana from Africa.
South America with four teams dominates the stage with three from Europe. Can Ghana break that jinx of world cup winners coming from either Europe or South America? That will be the day.
The world cup for me has been a celebration of ability. Everyday that matches are played and concluded I feel the urge of going on my knees to thank Baba God for inching Africa near the promised land. Even after all the success that has been recorded so far, I know that one slip, one careless slip may just undo all that has been done in this great feast of world football.
I will not be tired of commending the Vuvuzela wielding south African crowd that have put the ouster of the Bafana Bafana behind them, turning out in great number to cheer the best of world footballers and teams.
Jabulani and penalty kicks
When it was time for penalty kicks during the encounter between Japan and Paraguay my mind went to the Jabulani that believed monster of a ball that is believed to have a mind of its own, one that FIFA has admitted is slightly â€œmentalâ€
I was eager to find out whether the jabulani had respect for penalties. Granted that penalties had been taken in open play, but in this particular circumstance, will it mess up styles and wishes? To understand my anxiety let me take you to some comments by goalkeepers that can be considered hilarious especially if you are not on the receiving end of this special ball.
Brazil goalkeeper JÃºlio CÃ©sar
â€œItâ€™s terrible, horrible. Itâ€™s like one of those balls you buy in the supermarket.â€
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon
â€œIt is very sad that a competition so important as the world championship will be played with such an inadequate ball.â€Â England goalkeeper David James
â€œThe ball is dreadful. Itâ€™s horrible, but itâ€™s horrible for everyone.â€
Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer
â€œSometimes the ball has a genuine flight and other times it has a mind of its own so it has taken time to adjust and it will take us time still now.â€
Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic
â€œI have played with many different balls in my timeâ€”those that swerve a lot, change direction, fly awkwardlyâ€”but this one is definitely the worst of all.â€
South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune
â€œThis ball gives goalkeepers nightmares: as a goalkeeper thinking about the way this ball moves keeps you from sleeping because you are thinking about tomorrow and how you are going to manage to play with this ball.â€
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas
â€œItâ€™s a little sad that in a competition as big as the World Cup to have such a poor ball. Itâ€™s not just the goalkeepers complaining, but the outfield players as well.â€
Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama
â€œThe only thing is that some of us might be disgraced by that ball at the World Cup.
Some body should shoot a film of this ball and I guarantee it beeing a sell out.
See you tomorrow.