The competition has begun, with a late Mexico equaliser spoiling a dream start for South Africa, and France failing to overcome Uruguay. I think I predicted two draws on the opening day, elsewhere if not here, so was not surprised. And both were, as Bill Taylor has pointed out here, quite entertaining games. England play tonight and, of course, Salut! Sunderland wants even a Bent-free Capello side to win (though we’re also the highly unofficial site for the Paraguay squad – thanks for the flag, Pete!).
Steve Bruce has said the heart wants England, the head says Argentina; Lorik Cana favours Brazil. But in quiet periods between games, you can browse the outstanding pieces in which the same Pete who procured my Paraguay flag – Pete Sixsmith – reflects with startling recall of detail on all World Cups between 1966 and 2006. Here is a second instalment of the highlights (one of them from an intruder), each article reached by clicking the location or year …
See the first round-up of extracts by clicking here, or scroll down each individual tournament, clickable from the sidebar column to your left
Football and the USA is like Cheryl Cole and Rugby League, Nick Clegg and sticking to your principles and Mike Ashley and sensible managerial appointments – they just do not go together. They like games that they can be World Champions at because nobody else plays them. I like Baseball, but calling the play off the World Series… do me a favour.
… there was some cracking football. France had a wonderful squad, a real example of multi-culturism, with the likes of Blanc, Zidane, Vieira and Djorkaeff representing the varying strands of French society. No Cantona as the coach, Aime Jacquet preferred “water carriers” like Didier Deschamps.
I (Colin Randall) also have reason to remember France 98. It was the year I feared I’d be keeping my head down in street battles, but ended up travelling the world.
The football was pretty good, with some of the lesser known teams doing really well. The USA showed that it wasn’t just their women who could play, Turkey stirred themselves and ended up third and Guus Huddink showed what a wonderful coach he was by taking the Korean Republic to a semi final, amidst mounting and ear splitting hysteria in Seoul and other cities.
There was much conjecture about why he (Zidane) had done it (butted Materazzi). The most convincing explanation I have come across was that Materazzi had uttered a grave insult at Zidane, by asking him whether it was true that he was thinking of signing for Newcastle.