The FIFA Soccer World Cup ended with a nail-biting finish, bringing down the curtain after a month-long 64 breathtaking games.
From the highs of the gallant All Whites (the only undefeated team) and the mesmerising footwork of the New Germany, the never-say-die attitude of Uruguay and the romantic run of Ghana into the quarter-finals to the usual highly overrated, underperforming and ineptitude English, it was a series worth losing sleep.
The antics of superstar Maradona on the sidelines to the controversy of Frank Lampard’s “that goal,” Paul the Psychic Octopus, the deafening drone of the Vuvezulas and the unpredictable swerve flight path of the Jabulani are all part of the great legacy now.
Spain was crowned eventual winners over the Netherlands, when Andres Iniesta scored a scorcher in extra-time for the win. In terms of football neutrality, they were worthy winners. Their campaign went to tatters after losing the first game to the Swiss, but slowly they disposed off all their opponents in their traditional pass possession play, sucking the game out of their opponents.
Spain, long tagged a perennial underachiever before winning the 2008 European Championship to end a 44-year title drought, had never before gone past the quarterfinals. The team finished fourth at the 1950 World Cup.
This World Cup meant a lot to the Catalonian nation.
FIFA 2010 had a few firsts. The host team (South Africa), did not advance beyond the initial stage for the first time. Defending champions Italy and 2006 runners-up France finished last in their respective groups. Only six European teams progressed to the last sixteen, a record low in the 32-team era.
This was the first time European teams have won consecutive World Cups since Italy retained the title in 1938. The Netherlands and Spain were the only teams to have won all their qualification matches for the 2010 World Cup.
On a personal note, this World Cup was the coming of age of a new country, which, amid largely unfounded fears of violence and unpreparedness, ended where it all started – Soccer City Stadium in front of a capacity crowd and in a blaze of showmanship and spectacle.
Photo: Iker Casilla, Spain’s Captain, holds the FIFA World Cup, after the spectacular win on July 11.