Monday, July 20, 2009

Here We Go: Post No. 1

This is Day 1, post No. 1 of this blog, which is intended to convey to the reading public at least one entry per day about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, from now until the kickoff of Game 1.

That is why we are calling it a countdown. Because we will mark each day between now and June 11 with at least one post. Well, that's the intent. We shall see if we can make it.

This blog will be about any and all things pertaining to the tournament. For the next few months, it will focus rather heavily on qualifying, which is ongoing.

Six nations already are in: Australia, Japan, both Koreas (North and South, or Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea), The Netherlands and the hosts, South Africa. Twenty-six more are to be determined.

After the qualifying tournaments, or in addition to them, we shall take closer looks at specific teams and players, monitor the news coming out of the host country, perhaps get into how to get there and what to do while you are there ... and speculate, analyze, dissect, ponder ... all those things that we hope will make this readable and fun.

I have some history with this topic.

As a print journalist, I covered the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups from beginning to end, and I covered the 2002 World Cup through the first round. My entire professional life has been devoted to writing about sports, and of all the places I've been and events I have covered, the 1990 World Cup in Italy and the 1998 World Cup in France are in my Favorite Five. And I'm not even sure, right this minute, what the other three would be.

The World Cup is an intoxicating experience. Even if you're not a fan, and I certainly wasn't for at least the first two. I was a guy who loved the event -- but not the sport. The event is just an overpowering thing, focus of global attentions, crossroads of the world's cultures and peoples and hopes and aspirations. Inside the host country it is even more intense, and I have seen the length to which people will go be part of the event.

The World Cup is worthy of discussion because it means so much to so many people. At the least, it's great entertainment. At its most sublime, it is perhaps the one event that brings together all 6 billion people on the planet. It is the one topic that seems to transcend politics and war and daily petty conflicts. It is a sort of global water cooler we all gather around. At times, when world soccer is at its best, it can even be uplifting. Inspirational. Something that appeals to the better angels of our natures.

So, yes, a mere 325 days to go before the first match. Unless you live in South Africa, where it already is July 21, and the World Cup is 324 days away.

We are going to stick with Pacific Time for purposes of this blog.

Game 1 will pit the host country, South Africa, against the No. 2 team in Group A -- which figures to be someone pretty strong. It will be a key match for the hosts, because if they can "get a result," as they say in soccer, their chances of advancing to the second round shoot up. Because teams now designated A3 and A4 figure to be weaker than A2.

Kickoff for Game 1, June 11, will be at 4 p.m. in Johannesburg, which will be 7 a.m. on the West Coast, 10 a.m. EDT.

The championship match also will be played in Johannesburg, on July 11. Counting those two matches, the tournament will be made up of 64 matches, played over a span of 31 days.

I believe this could be fun, for me, the blogger. It could also be a lot of work. Let's see how it goes. I have no idea how it will turn out, and what directions I may go before I get to the other side. My first thought it to get started. Now I see where it goes.

Feel free to check in daily to see if I'm making any headway ... or have sunk with all hands.


  1. Re: Game 1 will pit the host country, South Africa, against the No. 2 team in Group A -- which figures to be someone pretty strong."

    IIRC, "A2" won't necessarily designate the second-best team in group A.
    For at least the past two cups, once they've drawn a non-seeded team into a group, they draw out of another bowl for their position in the group (i.e., A2, A3, or A4). Poland was the "second seed" in group A last time around, but Costa Rica faced Germany in the opener, because they drew the A2 spot.

  2. Good job starting this off Paul.

    Since the first World Cup in 1930 there have been 18 tournaments staged.

    South American teams have won 9 and Europe pulled even last time out.

    I have always believed the deck is stacked in Europe's favor because they get so many slots in the tournament after qualifying is finished.

    So it is remarkable that Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have won half the world titles so far, even though South America has always received a fraction of slots compared to Europe, where the game was supposedly invented.