The closing ceremony of South Africa’s hosted 2010 World Cup began with the appearence of the famous Nelson Mandela who made a bid to unite an embittered, racially divided country through rugby back in 1995. Many people speculate South Africa’s fate after the World Cup truly ends, which includes the building of infrastructure in the country and attempts to solve issues such as corruption in the government and the AIDs infecting large chunks of South Africa. Many people have faith that South Africa will begin to lure foreign investers and companies in order to build up its economy, while others are skeptical that although the country ran the World Cup with a relatively-low crime rate, which unfortunately included Paris Hilton’s detainment for possession of marijuana, will have much work ahead of them even if investers are attracted to the rainbow nation.
After Shakira performed ‘Waka Waka’ with several key African pop singers, the World Cup Final took off between Spain and Netherlands. True to their nickname, Oranje, the Dutch team was clad in complete orange while Spain was adorned in their uniform of navy dotted by gold and red. Fans watched as the two teams battled for the possession of the World Cup.
The game started early with Spain’s players driving it deep into Dutch territory. For the first four minutes of the final, the ball dangerously strayed near the Dutch goal. Spain’s Ramos received a free kick after he fell in contact. Kicking the ball in the air, Spain nearly scored a goal but didn’t count on Netherland’s goalkeeper Stekelenburg making a fantastic save. For the next three minutes, the Dutch attempted to enroach on the Spanish part of the field but shortly resorted to their half of the field in defense. Ramos nearly made a goal but Netherland’s #3 John Heitinga kicked it away from the goal at the last moment.
While both teams struggled to get the ball past each other, Netherland’s (#9) Robin van Persie was handed a yellow card after he fouled. Later, the Dutch got a free kick with (#10) Wesley Sneijder. 38 meters away from Spain’s goal net, Sneijder tried to kick it into the goal but Spanish goalkeeper Casillas caught the ball.
Dutch player Arjen Robben showed his amazing prowess as striker in the first half when he made a run for the Spanish goal, making outstanding dribbles between the legs of Spanish defense. Nothing much happened until 28 minutes into the game, Nigel de Jong (#8) of Netherlands struck his foot against Spanish player (#14) Alonso’s chest. The referee immediately handed de Jong a yellow card to which ABC commentators remarked “he was lucky, that should have been a red card..that kung fu kick”.
The second half of the final included spectacular plays by both teams. There were many close-calls for both teams 15 minutes into the second half. Robben had almost scored a point for Netherlands when he was in front of the Spanish goal. Luckily for the Spanish national football team, their goalkeeper and captain, Iker Casillas, deflected the ball with the side of his shoe as he dived.
Spain’s David Villa (#7) almost made a goal as he faced a fallen Robben and a clambering Stekelenburg. But..he kicked it way too high. Villa did the same thing a second time when Alonso passed the ball to him from near the Dutch corner.
Ramos was also close in scoring a point but he headed the ball above the goal bar. Spain’s Iniesta (#6) was very close to scoring a goal until he was tripped up by Netherland’s Sneijder. Robben simply shined during the second half when he outran Puyol and Xavi and nearly scored (again). Some goal attempts were close except most of them were aborted when the whistles declared they were offside.
The teams were in a deadlock and it seemed that the great match would go into extra time.
And so it did. There were as many close goals during extra time as there were during both halves of the final match. Stekelenburg made another magnificent save by sliding and kicking the ball away after Spain’s strikers charged into the goal’s proximity and kicked the ball at point-blank range.
It was certain that, as extra time was dragging on, that it would come to a penalty shootout. But some took back their comments about a 100% outcome of a penalty shootout when Netherland’s (#3) Heitinga received a red card when he pushed down Spain’s Xavi.
Xavi however missed in his free kick. Xavi again received a free kick around 111 minutes into the game, the ball almost made its way to a Spaniard’s head but Stekelenburg made yet another (yes, again) save by swatting the ball away with both hands. Some were certain that with Heitinga out and Spain’s Torres in, extra time could have Spain score a goal before the last seven minutes were up.
In front of the Dutch goal, Torres passed the ball over to Iniesta, setting a potential stage for a goal and… GOAL! Iniesta shot the ball into the goal past Stekelenburg, making a point for Spain with nil for Netherlands much to the dismay of the Dutch fans in the stadium and back in Amsterdam. Two minutes were added to extra time and near the end of the game, Torres strangely fell because of a hamstring injury.
And so, Spain won, 1-0, with Iniesta as the Man of the Match becoming the winner of the 2010 World Cup and football champion of the world. Netherlands on the other hand did very well in working hard to climb up to the grueling final match with Spain and shouldn’t feel ashamed but instead, proud as their fans feel about them.
(Cover Picture: AFP / Monirul Bhuiyan)