My time in Durban has been pretty uneventful. I went to the Netherlands-Japan match on Sat. and have otherwise just wandered around. Japan played extremely well and deserved a point. It seems like this ball really is bad. There aren’t this many goalkeeping errors in high school soccer.
It is quite the party atmosphere here. I guess that comes with being in a beach city. There is tons of activity along the beach. The highlight for me would be the beach soccer, but I cannot participate because of my knee. In large part I have avoided the beach. I do need to jump in the ocean before I leave. I will. The hostel I am staying also has quite the social scene. It’s pretty big, there must be 100 people staying here sharing the common areas. I’ve only spoken to a couple. This isn’t really my crowd…no one wants to talk about the politics or challenges of South Africa, or their own countries. I’ll have to be fun and outgoing to fit in here, not sure if I will figure it out. I’ve walked around the city lots, it really is a great vacation spot. It would be nice to have a car to tour around other places. There is mountain range to explore close to here. There is tons of Indian and Zulu culture to learn about. There are other natural attractions close by. I have thought of paying for a tour of something or spending a couple days in the mountains, right now I am leaning against it. I have a tendency to want to see everything, but then I never really relax and enjoy anything. But at the moment I am torn between just meandering along the coast, going back to Joburg for the Germany-Ghana match, or spending a couple days in the mountains. We will see.
African teams are killing me. I am still convinced they have the talent to compete with any team. Ghana and Ivory Coast showed lots of immaturity in not getting the results they needed in their last matches. I respect having a certain style. I understand pride and holding on to certain values. Every athlete dreams off making certain plays and scoring goals in big moments. But at some point all those things need to be put aside, or at least in the right place, to win a match. Ghana was casual and selfish against Australia, they played like they were gonna win just cause they are better. This happens all the time in all sports, but you don’t do it here when you have three matches to qualify. Cote d’Ivoire made a fair mistake on the first goal, but the next two should not have happened. Yes, the second was a handball, but the ball would have never been in their net if they hadn’t stopped. The third goal we saw a defender stand completely unaware of his surroundings and allowed a hurtful third goal. Then after they did score, they got caught up in everything that didn’t matter, and lost a chance to at least attempt to close the goal difference. Brazil’s antics were equally as childish, I can’t stand watching Luis Fabiano, he cries the entire match. But they are Brazil, they are established as the best team in the world, I don’t like it, but their arrogance and swag has a foundation. These African nations seem to have the same arrogance and swag. Many of their players have achieved much with their club teams, but not with their national teams, I’d like to see some more humility and a desire to earn some success. The Asian teams have been great so far. Each match they put their absolute best out there, and I think that is reflected in the results they have earned. All regions are really doing the best they can with the talent they have, but the African nations can’t seem to figure what it takes to get a result in this World Cup. Again, I am usually ok with taking things as a learning experience and moving forward, but this opportunity will not come again for a long time. Not in any of these players’ careers. Maybe African life is too fractured. There is corruption in African governments, there are always problems within African FA’s, there are countless problems in African nations. Maybe there is too much turmoil around an African player and their national side. Maybe they have to play for self, because playing for country just doesn’t make sense. I sure can’t understand whatever it is, it is upsetting me though. I came here dreaming of people encouraged, empowered, or maybe their lives just brightened a bit by their fellow countrymen doing something great. Now we hope at least one team gets through. I think Nigeria may be in the best place, even though they havn't earned a point yet. If they win and Greece loses, they should be through. Ghana needs at least a point against Germany, not easy, or a Serbian fold. Algeria needs to beat the US, which is possible, and then Cote d’Ivoire and Bafana need the stars to align just right. Cote d’Ivoire is a bit more likely, but still a stretch. Ok, I’m done now, time to go watch Spain knock the ball around, we’ll see if they decide to score this time.