Wednesday, 9 July 2014

52 minutes of the FIFA World Cup 2014

When the FIFA World Cup 2014 started in Brazil about a month back, I had promised myself that I wouldn't be forced to watch any of the games if I don't want to. 

At my age, it is very important that I give priority to getting enough sleep or else I wouldn't be able to function properly come the next day.

Once when I went to the Kampong Baharu market for my daily morning marketing, one of the stall keepers asked whether I had watched any of the football. He looked terrible, and he confessed that he had been up in the wee hours watching the games almost every day. I told him, no, I haven't been watching at all. Why, he asked incredulously, the World Cup comes only every four years and why wasn't I watching? My answer, as expected, was simple: sleep. I need my sleep. I need my glorious sleep. I need my, ahem, beauty sleep.

Thus, the preliminary stages came and went without me watching a single game. Really! Seriously! All I did in the mornings was to read about the scoreline from the online newspapers, and there were plenty enough to read. Similarly, the first and second rounds of the knock-out stages came and gone without me watching a single live game either.

Except for the Holland-Costa Rica quarter-final match last Sunday. I came downstairs at six o'clock and switched on the telly. It was the end of the second half. The game clock showed 89 minutes had been played and it was a deadlock on the field. No side had managed to score. Then four minutes was added to the game. I watched through till the whistle went. Scoreless, still. I switched off the television and went to change. Time for my wife and I to go out to the island for the Penang heritage talk on Folk Beliefs. Until Sunday, that was the only five minutes of the World Cup that I had watched live or otherwise.

This morning, I awoke at about 4.50a.m. Unable to sleep. Normally, I would just laze around in bed, listening to the sounds from outside the window. The rustling of the leaves, the chirping of insects, the singing of birds. Only difference this morning was that I decided to creep downstairs. Turned on the television. The commentators were talking about the first half of the Brazil-Germany match. I didn't catch much of what they said. Coming in at the tail-end of their commentary, it was mighty incomprehensible.

Then the television showed close-ups of the Brazil supporters in the stands. Sombre faces all round. No smiles, no joy. Just sad, gloomy, glum faces. With tears. Ooh, I thought to myself. Something must be up. Brazil trailing Germany, no doubt about it. But the telly and the commentators gave no hint away. Really frustrating, trying to find the reason and unable to find it. The long advertisements added to my impatience.

Then the second half started. Finally, I learnt the reason why. Germany had an impossible-to-fathom lead of 5-0 going into the second half of the game. Now I understood why the Brazil fans were so glum and gloomy. It would take a miracle for Brazil to win. I haven't heard of any team overcoming a five-goal difference to come and draw a football game.

So I sat down to watch the second half. Hopefully it would be interesting. But you know, there was also a danger that the second half would turn into a listless contest if one side simply stalled to keep their lead and frustrated all attempts by the other side. For much of the time, this happened. Germany absorbed everything that Brazil threw at them. Then on two breaks, Germany raced up field and scored two more goals. Seven for the Germans before Brazil managed to score a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game. And that was that, the A Seleção being shafted by the Die Mannschaft. Humiliation, indeed, for the Brazil team and the Brazil fans, in front of a world-wide television audience and more so, in front of their home crowd. But that's football. It's round, and anything can happen on the field.

By the way, with the second half watched with time added at the end, my total viewing time to date for the FIFA World Cup now stands at 52 minutes. Would I watch tomorrow morning's game between Holland and Argentina? Well, only sleep will tell.

No comments: