Monday, June 21, 2010

"And those home fires burn, scorching a hole through me..."

A MOCKED foreign coach, players at war with him and each other, and dispirited fans ripping off the rip-off shirts bought in such hope just a few weeks ago.
So that’s South Africa, anyway – how’s the mood back in England?
In fact, the attitude here seems to be not so much shocked outrage, as slightly miffed surprise.
Mobile phone and fast food firms who plastered the highways in adverts about not only hosting the World Cup, but actually winning it, are on alert to start shredding at dawn.
A second round place now looks about as likely, local wags say, as president Jacob Zuma deciding to settle down ... and not get married again.
Members of the South African squad have been swept up in the craze that’s sweeping the nation and gone public on rifts splitting the camp.
Suitably enough, one of the players wielding a dagger is MacBeth Sibaya, who claims Johannesburg-based ‘cliques’ have been favoured over Kwa-Zula Natal natives like himself.
But, as his Shakespearean namesake’s not-so-good lady wife put it: ‘What’s done cannot be undone.’
Nelson Mandela, even in his time of rather more serious grief, has tried to rally fans’ spirits while assuring the team of the country’s ‘unwavering support’.
Evidently, some fear tonight’s match against the revolting French could take at face value Wayne Rooney’s suggestion that it’s ‘nice to see your own fans booing you’.
Yet the World Cup occasion itself should mean plenty of pride is expressed loud and as clear as the vuvuzelas allow - fired by still-lingering feelgood factor from the Mexico second half, Siphuwe Tshabalala's wonder opener, and simply playing mein host.
Even if, to use the modern-day MacBeth's analogy, the Tuesday night task is to ‘climb Everest’.
Of course, the revolting French could yet hand them some crampons, if Raymond Domenech’s again go AWOL and concede a 3-0 walkover win – which might just be the hosts’ best hope.
There were always fears this World Cup would be hit by industrial action.
But no one expected the walkout-threatening police, nurses, customs officials and energy workers to be beaten to the picket lines by the players themselves.
An uneasy truce appears to have been brokered in the English civil war, with John Terry proving about as popular a coup-leader as Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon - with perhaps similar disgrace awaiting.
If, indeed, one man can attract any more - and assuming, of course, he actually feels any shame.
But vive les Divas, the French keep on feuding.
If Kader Keita’s Rivaldo impression briefly made the Ivory Coast just like watching Brazil, then the angsty English and French have become the new double Dutch.

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