x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

World Cup 2010: South Africa from A to Z

The first World Cup on the continent left some lasting memories. From a 'psychic' octopus successfully predicting Germany's results to the sound of the vuvuzela - the horn that refused to be silenced.

Whether you loved or loathed it the vuvuzela, the traditional African horn, it came to symbolise the 2010 World Cup.
Whether you loved or loathed it the vuvuzela, the traditional African horn, it came to symbolise the 2010 World Cup.

A: Africa A continent united as the World Cup arrived in Africa for the first time. Fear and cynicism had been prevalent in the build-up, but following spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, safety on the streets and incredible hospitality, South Africa did their continent proud. The African teams, in contrast, stumbled with five of the six nations failing to progress to the last 16.

B: Bafana Bafana The South Africa national team, despite their low ranking and failure to progress, inspired a nation. More than a quarter of a million people took to the streets of Sandton to wish "The Boys" good luck ahead of the tournament and when Siphiwe Tshabalala fired his side into the lead during the opening game against Mexico, a country erupted with joy. C: Coup d'etat French players angrily refused to train after the country's football association decided to send Nicolas Anelka home following a public dispute with Raymond Domenech, the outgoing coach. France managed only one point and one goal in their three games forcing Nicolas Sarkozy, the country's president, to demand discussions with some of the squad. Calls have since been made for Patrice Evra, the captain, to be banned.

D: Defensive Dunga's Demise Dunga, the Brazil coach, was cast as a pariah by his nation's media for his willingness to disregard the Selecao's tradition of playing beautiful football. Opting instead for defence-oriented tactics, Dunga approached the tournament having lost just four times in 55 games, but when his side crashed out to Holland in the quarter-finals, the former World Cup-winning captain was promptly dismissed.

E: El Diego Diego Maradona dominated the 1986 World Cup and this summer he, once more, revelled in the global limelight. The charismatic Argentina coach's press conferences were constantly great value as he refused to bite his tongue slammed, among others, Pele and Michel Platini. When La Albicelestes were winning "El Diego" was a delight to watch and when they were eliminated, he appeared emotionally ruined as he spoke of his heartbreak.

F: Firsts The first World Cup in Africa also produced a first title for Spain and made them the first European country to win football's most coveted trophy outside their home continent. They did so by beating Holland 1-0 in the final, in what was the teams' first ever World Cup encounter. South Africa also became the first host nation to fail to negotiate the group stages. G: Golden Boot Not since 1962 has more than one player finished atop the Golden Boot standings. This summer four players all ended their tournaments with five goals. Thomas Muller, the Germany midfielder, beat off competition from David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan after also contributing three assists.

H: Hand of Suarez Luis Suarez, the Uruguay forward, broke the hearts of an entire continent when he illegally used his hand to deny a 120th-minute goalbound header by Dominic Adiyiah, the Ghana midfielder. Suarez was rightly sent off, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resultant penalty and Uruguay won the shoot-out. The incident sparked worldwide debate regarding justice and Suarez was booed throughout his next game against Germany.

I: Inglorious Exits Italy, the 2006 World Champions, slumped out at the earliest opportunity after failing to beat New Zealand and Paraguay and losing to Slovakia. Likewise, France - winners in 1998 and finalists in 2006 - failed to win a single game, while England, who arrived with hopes of leaving as champions, left instead humiliated after being crushed 4-1 by Germany. J: Jabulani Adidas's new Jabulani ball was introduced in time for the World Cup, but immediately drew criticism after many players struggled to adapt. Lightweight and played at high altitude, the ball noticeably moved in the air, causing mayhem for goalkeepers, while those looking to strike from distance often had issues keeping their shots from sailing high.

K: "Ke Nako" The official slogan for the South Africa World Cup can be translated roughly as "We Can" and the country's residents fully backed the tournament, celebrating their heritage and humanity. Colourful fans turned out in droves to cheer on all 32 teams, wearing "makarapas" - traditional home-made hand-painted hard hats - while the violent crimes predicted failed to materialise. Total success.

L: La Roja Spain arrived in South Africa as one of the favourites, but, having never reached a final before and having lost their opening game to Switzerland, it appeared they might live up to their underachievers tag once more. Yet, with Andres Iniesta pulling the strings, La Roja's possession play paid dividends and they slowly and subtly progressed to the final to claim their first World Cup title.

M: Mini-skirt Marketing Two Dutch women were arrested after organising an ambush marketing project that involved a group of 36 blonde women wearing orange miniskirts and subtly advertising Bavaria beer at Holland's group match with Denmark. Fifa threatened legal action, but the case was later settled. The two women got their tickets through Robbie Earle, a British television pundit who was later sacked for his involvement.

N: Nigerian controversy When Nigeria failed to progress to the latter stages of the tournament, the country's government apologised to the president and announced the national team would be disbanded for two years for causing embarrassment. However, following a Fifa warning regarding political interference in football, the Nigerian government rescinded their threat. The FA did, however, sack three top-level executives.

O: Overnight Recognition For players looking to build reputations, there is no grander stage in football than the World Cup; a strong tournament can make a career. Players such as Andre Ayew of Ghana, Alexis Sanchez of Chile and Uruguay's Diego Perez all did their reputations no harm as they consistently put in man-of-the-match winning performances that have since seen them linked to big-money transfers.

P: Paul the Psychic Octopus A German-based octopus caught the imaginations of the footballing public by correctly predicting Germany's results ahead of their games. The octopus chose mussels from boxes marked with two opposing sides' flags and while Argentine fans threatened to turn Paul into paella when he claimed La Albicelestes would lose, Spanish fans felt buoyed when he predicted a maiden title for La Roja in the final against Holland. Paul's predictions were flawless throughout the entire tournament.

Q: Questionable Refereeing The demand for video technology heightened when Frank Lampard, the England midfielder, saw his strike rattle the crossbar and bounce behind the line before being caught by Manuel Neuer, the German goalkeeper. The goal was not given. Likewise, when Carlos Tevez scored from an offside position against Mexico, players pointed to the JumboTron, which was mistakenly replaying the action. The referee could not change his mind and the goal stood. Fifa has since said changes will be implemented before the 2014 tournament.

R: Rainbow Nation Belief that South Africa may fall into a post-tournament recession is widespread. Expensive stadiums and exceeded budgets do not make for positive reading by economists and the country will need to act quickly to ensure arenas such as Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth do not become white elephants. S: Soccer City Sitting on the outskirts of Soweto, South Africa's monolithic Soccer City stadium far exceeded its budget and eventually cost 3.3 billion rand. But on match days that was long forgotten as the atmosphere generated inside the 85,000-seat arena - designed around the concept of an African mixing pot - was incredible. Host of the opening match and the final, Soccer City will live long in the memory - and courtesy of the vuvuzalas - the ears too.

T: Tears With so much at stake in the knock-out stages of a World Cup, players can understandably get very emotional. Landon Donovan, the United States midfielder and captain, and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan both shed tears, but it is the image of a pained Oscar Cardozo that will likely endure the longest. The Paraguay forward missed a penalty against Spain in the quarter-finals, only to then see the Spaniards go on to win 1-0, and was inconsolable on the final whistle.

U: Uruguay From a continent that boasts Brazil and Argentina, not even Paul the Octopus would have predicted Uruguay would be South America's sole representative in the semi-finals. Players such as Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Diego Lugano all shone on football's grandest stage to take La Celeste to their first semi-final since 1970. V: Vuvuzela Loved and loathed in equal measure, the traditional African horn has come to symbolise the 2010 World Cup. Initially, there was talk of Fifa banning it for its ability to drown out any atmosphere that coincides with the action on the pitch. But the horn refused to be silenced, creating a stadium noise that was likened to a swarm of bees.

W: Waka Waka Shakira's catchy Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) was nominated to be the official Fifa anthem and quickly cemented itself as a crowd favourite - despite several locals claiming the words do not have any African meaning. Before every game and again at half time, the song blared inside the stadium, prompting many supporters to rise up and perform the "Waka Waka" dance.

X: Expectations Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi all arrived in South Africa burdened by expectations and failed to perform. All three had scored in excess of 30 goals last season for their domestic clubs, but only Ronaldo managed to get on the scoresheet this summer - scoring in Portugal's 7-0 rout of North Korea in the group stage. Y: Youthful Germans Germany have a long-standing reputation for being dour but effective. Not any more. Joachim Loew's young side - including the likes of Mesut Ozil, Muller and Jerome Boateng - dazzled their way through to the semi-finals, becoming the first team to score four goals in three separate games at a World Cup since Brazil in 1970.

Z: Zuma Jacob Zuma, the South African president, was crucial in his country's successful hosting of the showpiece. An omnipresent figure throughout, Zuma was on hand to motivate not only the Bafana team, but also the citizens of his country. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae