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Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 22:48 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

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Sleepless in Singapore

Happy days are here. Did a lot of catching up on the World Cup, and was pretty disappointed when all of Asia's representatives went out in the group stages. South Korea looked a decent bet, but succumbed 0-2 to Switzerland. As it was, they needed to win since France beat Togo by two clear goals, so it wasn't even close enough to be heartbreaking.

For me, the World Cup does not seem to begin until Brazil play. Had to miss their first two matches, but got to catch their 4-1 mauling of Japan. That their samba will be magic is an expectation - the world expects nothing less of the aristocrats of football.

We grant countries canned sobriquets, as though they are individuals. The Germans are efficient and methodical, the Italians defensive in their prison of catenaccio, the Dutch Total Football free-flowing but disharmonious, the South Americans wily and sometimes dirty (depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on), the British direct with long balls to their quintessentially tall, strong English center forward...

A casual observer today may not notice such pronounced differences. There is not much to separate the styles of the more impressive teams so far - Argentina, Germany, Brazil for instance. Eliminated sides such as the Czechs and Ivorians have also reached their level in spurts, but just could not keep it up. They all know the patient attack, the frequent interpassing, awaiting the slightest chink in the opposite team's defence. Then they pounce.

Okay, England seem to have regressed to pumping clearances to Crouch. Some things never change for long.

Like mixed martial arts, proficient sides appear to have gravitated towards well-rounded systems, purging themselves of obvious weaknesses. Top fighters no longer confine themselves to one school, however ancient it may be; Thousands of years of revered tradition, prescribed moves, combinations and katas handed down from generations of masters to disciples, suddenly become less important when the stubborn practitioner has his stuffing knocked out of him.

I do feel a twinge of pity for the relatively unschooled Africans, however, whose devil-may-care attitude to running straight for goal was highly refreshing. Unfortunately, they also had a tendency to hold on to the ball a tad too long, in contrast to the sweeping moves of more established teams. Dribbling through two or three players into a dangerous position is no easy matter at the highest levels, unless one is a Maradona. Most often, even if the player drives through, he will be forced to the flanks, a position which could have been achieved with a simple swing of a boot.

So it's been a pretty good life after NS - the freedom to do my own stuff through the afternoon, and quality soccer at night and the wee hours. Can't ask for much more.

Oh yes, one of my KoL characters got beaten by a Crazy Bastard in a Sleazy Back Alley. Supposedly a million-in-one occurrence, which almost guarantees a 70 million meat Crazy Bastard Sword (to put things into perspective, normal meat income is about 4 million a month with good knowledge of game mechanics - yes, meat, not gold. Go figure). Darn. Got an untradeable Consolation Ribbon out of it, though, so at least I have proof.

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