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from Photographers' Blog:
I arrived in South Africa with the Japan team filled with excitement and an acute feeling of anxiety. Never mind that I would be on the scene to cover the world's biggest sporting event, and never mind that I would be competing against the top sports photographers from around the globe to get the best pictures. For a Reuters photographer like myself dedicated to a single team, when your team drops out of the competition, you're finished. Like the defeated team, you go back to the hotel, pack your bags and spend the long flight home wondering what went wrong. Based on Japan's lackluster showing in the East Asia Soccer Championship my expectation for Japan was three defeats in a row and no victories. Mine would be a short stay in South Africa.
But during Japan's first match against Cameroon the Samurai Blue seemed to transform themselves in front of my eyes with Keisuke Honda’s goal being the catalyst. Japan was defeated by the Netherlands in their second match but the Samurais demonstrated the unity of the team in their performance and they were victorious against Denmark in their third match. In doing so they completely wiped out the image that I held of the Japan team before going into the competition. I was covering the world's biggest sporting event, and I was going up against the top sports photographers, but in this World Cup Japan's victory meant that the formidable teams of France and Italy and the even more formidable photographers accompanying them were going home. Not me.
On June 29, 2010, Japan faced Paraguay in World Cup match 55. Even after extra time the game remained scoreless and a penalty shoot-out would determine the outcome. I moved into position according to the instructions of Chief Photographer UK and Ireland Dylan Martinez, the leader of the Reuters photographers for this match.
A penalty shoot-out is all about luck. The psychologically intense method of deciding a match seems especially hard on the players, but it's just as tough on the photographers with a split second making the difference between front pages around the world or a postage stamp-sized picture on page S15. Both the players and the photographers tuned out the screaming of the crowd and focused with tense stillness on the battle between the penalty kicker and the goalkeeper. My position was on the opposite side of the pitch allowing me to see the face of the goalkeeper. Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who had saved many shots up to then, clearly showed the strain. Following the two successful shots by both teams it was Yuichi Komano, Japan’s third kicker’s turn.
Welcome to our latest Reuters 2010 World Cup podcast, as we follow the lead of the world’s most famous psychic octopus and try to predict what will happen in the quarter-finals. Kevin Fylan is joined by Paul Radford, Jon Bramley, Ken Ferris and Mr Mark Gleeson.
The tournament’s most verbose coach was in at the top of his game in the run-up to the match against Brazil, baffling the world’s media with his long-winded answers to the simplest of questions and brilliantly using the double negative on at least one occasion. Here are some excerpts from what was billed as a news conference but sounded more like a lecture in philosophy.
Prior to the game a commentator had bragged, “England have certainly won in the song stakes”. He was right. England had won in the song stakes and after the penalties this other victory gave me something to cling to.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is serious about his soccer. He is a cheerleader for the US bid to host the World Cup; proud of the prowess on the pitch in South Africa for the red, white and blue; a fan of the noisemaking vuvuzela and a thinker who sees the beautiful game as a way to gain insight on disputes between ethnic groups and nations.
Clinton, still jubilant after attending a dramatic U.S. victory in stoppage time over Algeria a night ago, spoke to a roundtable of reporters for about an hour on Thursday. For him, the game is an intellectual pursuit and a passion. One book he cited was How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory on Globalization, by Franklin Foer. Foer offered some insight on his theories in an interview a few years ago with Mother Jones magazine.
Back in the time of tight shorts and second round group stages, the World Cup was very different. Except for Italy that is.
In 1982 the Azzurri drew their three first round group games but still sneaked their way into the second round. A 0-0 draw with Poland, a 1-1 draw with Peru and a 1-1 draw against Cameroon were met with howls of derision but the tradition of Italy being slow starters was born.
from Shop Talk:
From our correspondent Nivedita Bhattacharjee:
Surprised at the roar from the bar around the corner on an otherwise normal work day in New York City? Don't be. It's the FIFA World Cup, and that pub's full of people rooting for team USA.
As a record number of U.S. viewers tune in to experience the 90-minute soccer matches, bars and taverns from New York to San Francisco are doing all that they can to keep the cheers loud and the beers flowing. And even while at work, some Americans are letting daily tasks idle while they keep score.
from Africa News blog:
The soccer fan fest sounded like a wild party with the vuvuzela horns booming through the empty streets of Polokwane town, one of the smallest of 10 venues for the first World Cup on African soil.
Everyone must be there, we thought as there was little happening on a Saturday night in the northern South African town centre.