Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcome Home World……

‘The waiting is over’… ‘Let the games begin’…. ‘Here we go’ ... are some phrases heard when the World Cup 2010 kicked off. 5 years of waiting, ,months of build up complete with the increase frequency of airtime given to World Cup promos and the catchy songs.

To football mad fans and to a certain extend non-fans it will be a month of change in routines. Need to be home early to catch the early games. Waking up middle of the night to catch the early morning games. To some may be the other  parts of their lives will come to a stand still. Some non-football spouses, majority of the female gender, will have sleepless nights too. TVs too loud and the husbands and kids shouting like crazy in the middle of the night. Add to that sound of popping crackers, kuacihs, cans and all sorts of must have paraphernalia for an armchair spectator.

64 matches in one month. We had 5 down 59 to go. In Brunei, for the ‘live coverage’ we have the choice of watching astro for those with dishes hanging on their walls, astro beyond for those who are into HD technology and last but not least the ever reliable RTB. RTB also offers HD. So far, in terms of quality of the pictures compared to the standard astro (I don’t have astro beyond, tempted to have one but don’t see the use of it), RTB got the thumbs up. For those fussy about details, it seems the pictures are five seconds earlier than those in astro.

Talking about RTB, thumbs up to them for their effort to bring the matches live. After all not everyone has astro. If someone have any grouse about RTB coverage is may be about the ‘experts’. At the interval of the opening match, the experts, to use a local term, ‘mati-mati’ said the referee and his assistant was wrong for flagging the Mexican player for offside. This clearly showed the experts were not aware of the offside rule. Put it simply, the referee was right, the ‘experts’ were wrong! Read the rulebook again please.

Another craze that comes along with every world cup is collecting the ‘Panini’ world cup stickers. Six hundred plus stickers to fill. That’s almost $100 per album, if you are very very lucky and don’t get doubles or even triples. Apparently some stickers were hard to find. A sniff of the precious rare stickers leads to sms exchanged, facebook updates browsed and meetings arranged for exchange of stickers. We are talking about adults here! I suppose this will help the economy a bit. Generate extra sales. On a personal note, I just started to fill up the album. Just for fun and to get into the world cup mood, not that I need much of stirring up. Still 500+ to go ….

One good news that came before the World Cup kicked off, the continued suspension of our national  team from the world of football. I suppose it’s good news but since when a continued suspension is good news. But then again compared to expulsion, in the wilderness of the world football?  All the fans wanted is the BAFA saga sorted out one way or another so we can have our normal football season. Hopefully this will be a kick-start to Brunei returning to fold of world football and we can make full use of the facilities FIFA funded near the Stadium.

Despite not participating in  any international matches, Brunei’s ranking has gone up four places to 189. Joint 189th with Afghanistan. We are better ranked than other well-known ‘powerhouses’ like Bhutan, Macau, Timor Leste, Andorra, San Marino and Papua New Guinea. That’s without playing. I wonder what will be our ranking if we fully participate.

Still fresh in memory the golden outing our national team at the Qualifiers for the 1980 Moscow Olympic. We were grouped together with the hosts Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Brunei gave the bigger countries a run for their money. We defeated Philippines 2-0, Indonesia 3-2. Roslan Hj Suhaili scored a hattrick past the Indonesian keeper Taufik Lubis. Indonesia at that time was a powerhouse in this region.  At that time we had Ali Hj Ismail, Zulkifli Anis, Ak Zamani, Pg Tajudin just to name a few. We lost narrowly 1-2 to Japan. 1-3 to both Malaysia and South Korea. Look at what happened to Japan and South Korea now.

If we followed the example of Japan and South Korea, may be we will be in the World Cup Finals sooner than we think. Nothing is impossible……

When we won the Cup, the Malaysia Cup not the World Cup, we were ranked 192. The year 1999 will be forever etched in the memories of the local football fans. That was the pinnacle. It felt we were on top of the world. 

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