A football lesson from a Scot and a Welshman
God bless the Confederations Cup! A warm-up tournament designed to test the venues for the upcoming World Cup and, on 2013’s evidence, to patronise a bunch of plucky amateurs from the South Pacific.
June 21st, 2013
Last night, it was Tahiti who were on the receiving end of patronising punditry from the BBC Three studio as they went down to a record 10-0 reverse against Spain.
Robbie Savage tried to convince us that allowing teams like to Tahiti to qualify by rights for the Confederations Cup was ‘devaluing’ the competition (this is the same Robbie Savage that played 39 times for Wales and has as much experience of playing in major international tournaments as this writer), whilst Pat Nevin regaled us with anecdotes about Scotland’s struggles against the might of San Marino and the Faroe Islands because that was, apparently, relevant.
But for all of the looking down noses at Tahiti, the amateurs put on a show that suggested that, with a really good showing, England might be able to give them a challenge. After all, the Tahitians could perform simple tasks like completing a pass and making runs off the ball – something that Roy Hodgson’s team has really struggled with in recent fixtures. When England played Spain in November 2011, they had 29% of the ball. Last night, Tahiti had 37% of it.
The Tahitians have clearly won the hearts of the football-watching public this tournament. They received a standing ovation from the crowd in the Maracana, they received a respectful congratulations from the Spanish and their coach Eddy Etaeta was probably on the money when he claimed before the game that they were representing the 99% of the world population who aren’t professional footballers.
Anyway, Torres scored four, Villa three, Silva bagged two and Juan Mata got the other. Oh, and Torres also missed a penalty, which we all found hilarious.
Eventually, FIFA will sit down and look at ways to make sure that the likes of Tahiti don’t get anywhere near places like the Confederations Cup, much like UEFA will probably get around to helping the likes of San Marino and Andorra find their level. Until then, let’s just enjoy Tahiti for the enthusiasm and colour to what is, essentially, an end-of season kick-about designed to make sure that Brazil’s riot police knows what it is doing.