World Cup Fever!!!

by Evans Yonson

Today is the opening of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. This is my second time in Europe to witness the World Cup, the first in 2006 when it was held in Germany. I am not really a football fan to start with. When I first came here in 2004, I found football, with its following, the fans and the craze and effect on the people as individuals and as a society,  the best sports ever conceived and far better than basketball. I remember fully well what happened in 2006 because I was in Madrid and I was rooting for Spain as they battled it out against France on 27 June.

It is going to be my last weekend in Madrid because I decided to move to Barcelona that summer. I am finishing my nine-month contract with the international NGO. There is no turning back and to make my last week worthwhile I am here at the Puerta del Sol where they have mounted giant screens for the Round of 16 game before the quarterfinals of the World Cup. This is Spain’s moment.

Under the scorching summer heat in Madrid, 27 June 2006.

The giant screen. Always the early bird.

I don't have any red shirt. Good thing Spain is not playing against Brazil today. To show support, face painting is it!

The game is on!!!

Cheering, smiling and posing for the camera.

Spain makes a goal. David Villa goals at 28 minutes. People are shouting, "today God is Spanish!" Here's wishing and praying that God will be Spanish again this time around.

But as history tell us, Spain lost to France’s 3 goals: Ribery at 41′); Vieira at 83′; and finally, Zidane at overtime 2′. But this year, our hopes are high. Spain, ranking #2 in the world, is in Group H with Switzerland, Honduras, and Chile.

Spain packs a powerhouse team composed of goalkeepers Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (FCBarcelona), and Pepe Reina (Liverpool); defenders Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (FCBarcelona), Carlos Puyol (FCBarcelona), and Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid); midfielders Andres Iniesta (FCBarcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Sergio Busquets (FCBarcelona), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi Hernandez (FCBarcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), and Javier Martinez (Athletic Bilbao); and forwards David Villa (Valencia), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), Pedro (FCBarcelona), and Jesus Navas (Sevilla).

Coach Vicente del Bosque, former winning coach of Real Madrid, brings with him a colorful career to the national team. With the players and del Bosque, Spain has high hopes at winning that much-coveted cup in this first-ever World Cup in the African continent.

Viva España!!!