Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup as Seen From Egypt

Thanks for the invitation; glad to be here. Though I retired as a Chicago sportswriter in 1998, I've gotten back into the spirit of it with occasional sports posts on my mostly philosophy-oriented blog. I live in Cairo, and literally while typing these words I am occasionally looking out my window at the Algerian Embassy that was stoned by an angry Egyptian mob in November, following Egypt's loss to Algeria in the World Cup qualifier. (And yes, I know for sure that it was stoned. The sound of stones woke me from my dogmatic slumber that night.)

It was sad that the Algeria-Slovenia match today was so dull, because those teams are standing in for the vanquished Egypt and Russia, who would have been interesting additions to the 2010 mix. Also, I'm afraid that Algeria's disgraceful 4-red card departure from the African Cup of Nations makes it hard for me to root for them, though as an adopted Cairene I would normally be pleased to support an Arab side.

Germany looked powerful and exciting tonight, in the most intimidating performance in the Cup so far. Klose's header wasn't just a goal, but a resounding statement. You could almost feel it rattle your own skull.

I'm also ecstatic that we (the USA) escaped England with a draw: a great result for the Americans. I agree with the poster below who said that the American team resembles a middling Premier League club in both its strengths and its weaknesses.

I was in transit during Ghana-Serbia and missed the whole match, but was sufficiently impressed by the poise of Ghana's players during this winter's African Cup that I wasn't all that surprised to see them pull out a win.

The pre-tournament consensus seemed to be that the African teams would not live up to expectations, but I still think they will. Home crowd energy in the World Cup means a lot. Who can forget the way France fed off home cooking in 1998, South Korea in 2002, and to a more minimal extent even the USA in 1994?