Confederations Cup: Great Start for Spain and Fernando Torres, Not so Much for South Africa and Bernard Parker

15 06 2009

torres

The 2009 Confederations Cup finally kicked off yesterday in Johannesburg. Gives us a nice little preview of what the 2010 World Cup will look and feel like, no? And have to say it’s got me more than a little excited. Though not as excited as Sepp Blatter, apparently.


The opening game didn’t quite match the occasion. Hosts South Africa were held 0-0 by a non-too-adventurous Iraq in front of 52,522. It really should have finished 1-0 to Bafana Bafana, but Kagisho Dikgacoi’s 84th minute goalbound header was blocked on the line by Bernard Parker. In case you can’t tell from the name, Parker does not play for Iraq.

Parker was admirably philosophical afterwards, telling reporters:

“I can’t turn back the hands of time. I’ll just have to put it behind me and focus on our next game. But when the ball hit me, I just wanted to drop dead on the spot. It happens, it’s football.”

Although somewhat predictably, only the sensational part about him wanting to drop dead made the headlines. I wonder what Benni McCarthy – left out of the Confed Cup squad by coach Joel Santana – thinks about South Africa’s failure to score…

Spain found it a lot easier to put ball in net in yesterday’s second Group A game, routing New Zealand 5-0 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg (start learning these stadium names people, you’ll need them next summer) as Fernando Torres helped himself to a 17 minute hat-trick, the fastest in Confederations Cup history.

Cesc Fabregas and David Villa also got on the scoresheet. Plus Spain’s kits looked super-cool, so good day all around for the Spanish.

Only downsides were:

1. Andy Boyens fail to let Villa score , and

2. Just 21,649 people in a 45,000 seater stadium, despite some tickets costing just $8.75. Too early to worry about World Cup crowds just yet though (because I wouldn’t pay to watch New Zealand play either).

Things get a lot more exciting today, as Group B (the one with the proper teams in it) begins. It’s Brazil vs Egypt in Bloemfontein (4pm local time, 3pm UK time, 10am US Eastern) followed by Italy vs USA in Pretoria (8:30pm local, 7:30pm UK, 2:30pm US Eastern).

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