My enduring image was a closeup of one of the faces as he stood still, as though petrified, looking into the distance. Face lined with fatigue, a far-off stony expression nevertheless, the only sign that he might be made of living tissue apparent in the moist eyes. He finally blinks as an Argentinian player approaches him for the traditional exchange of jerseys. They hug, the victor and the vanquished. Wholehearted, because, the former knows that his opponent was worthy and with some quirks of luck, the roles could easily have been reversed. The latter, though his will, fragmented like eggshells that have been stepped on, aware that his opponent was just that l’il bit better on the day. He doesn’t grudge him his win, but that doesn’t ease the lump in his throat, or that heavy feeling in his chest. It will be a few days before he can smile, he will play other times, and win. But for now, he has to deal with that unduplicable feeling, that comes with wanting something with every fibre of your being…and being denied. Not for him, the excuses about unfair refereeing or insufficient training or incompetent teammates. He and his team will walk off the pitch with head held high, cliches about the importance of winning (those oft-quoted by ‘the onlookers’, those who wouldn’t dare step on the playing field themselves but take viacarious pleasure in tearing down those that come off second best on it) don’t apply here. Its funny that you think of them as absurd on two occasions – when you win and when you lose . It then…must really be about how you play the game…
Big boys do cryIn sports on June 25, 2006 at 5:49 am
The first game was as if a welter-weight contender had blundered into the ring against a heavy-weight. If you supported the scandinavians, it was painful to watch and you were in fact thankful when the end came. The other one though, was markedly different. Mexico and Argentina went at each other hard, for all of regulation time. Mexico scored the first goal to show why they’re the #4 ranked team in the world. The day however belonged to the bigger South American name in the game as they won in extra time. As the cameras panned over the exultant Argentinian bench and they piled on each other, you saw the odd figure in green on the pitch, each spaced from the other similar figures, trudging towards their bench.