Tuesday, June 13, 2006

South Korea v Togo, BBC1

Ray introduces us to the start of the BBC's big triple-header and the three "punditeers" - Gordon, Marcel and "D'Artagnan Dowie". The entire build up focuses on two issues: Togo coach Otto Pfister's resignation and about-turn, and the roof being closed this afternoon in Frankfurt following TV complaints about the shadows from the overhanging big-screen TV. It's going to be a repetitive theme.

Commentator Simon Brotherton's opening gambit is to tell us the South Korean anthem used to be sung to the tune of AUld Lang Syne, which is inadvertently played a second time as the camera pans along a confused Togalese squad before somebody in the PA booth realises their error and fades into the correct tune (by which time most of the mascots have run off). Our referee is Graham Poll ("from Tring", as if we care), apparently out here on his anniversary.

The lack of patronising clichés of African naivety in the tournament so far is overcompensated in the opening stages as Brotherton and Bright wax lyrical on the fact that several of the Togo squad had never met prior to their coming together for the tournament. Much merriment as they speculate whether Pfister will still be Togo coach by the time of their next game. Brotherton points out the Togo keeper played one game for his club side Metz last season, who were promptly relegated.

"We just had a little glimpse of the Tunisian fan, or is he Egyptian, who turns up at the African Nations Cup every time," observes Brotherton curiously as the first half reaches its halfway point with nothing but patronising cliches about African football and complaints about humidity to report. Brotherton is keen to emphasise how he was at the Korea v Ghana game at Easter Road on June 4th, referencing it at least 4 times in the opening 25 minutes.
Bright is first to mention the movement of the ball as Korea have a free kick from at least 35 yards out which we see smacking satisfyingly into the McDonalds hoarding to the side of the goal.

"The crowd providing more colour than the game so far," notes Brotherton, before the camera focuses yet again on the Togo coach, wearing an unusually casual outfit (jeans and unbuttoned shirt) for a man of his advanced years. "Looking casual in his jeans!" is Bright's observation, as Brotherton reminds us yet again that we're seeing "the oldest manager in the tournament, who was very nearly watching it back home in Cologne."

The tedium is rudely interrupted in the 30th minute by a breakaway Togo attack and Mohamed Kader thrashes the ball into the net. Even Simon Brotherton is caught by surprise: "Oh it's a goal, Togo have the lead and who'd have thought it? And astonishingly after all the hassle, all the disorganisation and all the arguing they're on the field and ahead against Korea!"

A few moments later and Simon's back onto the weather, albeit via a reference to the South Korean fans being a little dispondent at going behind. "I was gonna say the collective air was sucked out of the stadium but I think it was anyway - very hot in here!"

We see Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer in the stands. Simon tells us of the latter: "German tv showed a picture of him nodding off at one of the games. Could be tough for him in the second half today with the heat!"

"He is a shoot-on-sight striker," observes Brotherton of Mohamed Kader, before helpfully clarifying that bizarre incomprehensible statement. "He sees the goal and he will go for it!"

Half time, and Ray attempts to salvage the best of a bad show: "The coach does the hokey-cokey before the tournament begins and it's worked for Togo!" Gordon's chief complaint is that there are "only 5 players who want to win the game"; whilst Marcel takes a leaf out of Motty's stats book by pointing out that Togo "might be the first West African game who wins its first game in the World Cup." Very much so, I fancy.

"This is the first game that's approaching a rotter," Ray admits as we're reduced to a replay of a Korean free kick where the taker shuffles on the spot, in a Roberto Carlos-esque fashion. Having revealed yesterday that he tried to sign Thomas Rosicky whilst at Southampton only to be priced out of the market, today's revelation is that he almost signed Emmanuel Adebayor only for Rupert Lowe to dismiss the deal "because he didn't like Adebayor's attitude". I'm sure Saints fans will be thrilled by the end of this tournament when it's revealed they could have signed Ronaldinho except their chairman didn't think he looked good in a striped shirt, or something.

We go to the inevitable England coverage and a focus on Owen Hargreaves' negative reaction from England fans, during which Owen completely fails to answer even the tamest of Garth Crooks' enquiries.

Onto the second half, and the Pfister fun shows no signs of dropping. Bright wonders out loud whether Otto will still be in charge when Togo meet France in the final group game, apparently having forgotten they asked the same question of the Swiss game less than one hour ago. It must be the heat rotting his brain, I suppose.

Jean-Paul Abalo clatters into Park Ji-Sung, who is sent off and booked in that order, and Togo are down to 10 men in the 53rd minute. "Graham Poll didn't like what he saw there and he's off," is Simon's asinine opinion. "He left Graham Poll with no other...way he could go," says Mark abstractly.

The subsequent free kick is a cracker, although the Togo keeper helps by shuffling the wrong side of his goal allowing a nice big gap for the Koreans to equalise. "Lee Chung Soo! 1-1! That was an absolutely smashing free kick - really really good. Left the Togo defence and the goalkeeper standing!" Thanks for that, Simon.

Mark Bright begins to question whether Pfister should even be in charge of this game, as Bright is bemused by Togo's continued use of two strikers even though they're a man down. "[Korea are] going to overload them" he predicts.

"This is a throw in, is this a throw in?" asks Mark as Togo begin to take a corner from which Korea immediately break down the other end. Even the TV director must be struggling in the humidity as We see the Korean substitute caption appear then quickly disappear as he instead replays a foul.

Time for another goal, not that Brotherton seems to care by this stage, with the most uninterested tone of voice as the shot comes in: "Here's Ahn Jung-Hwan - oh." Bright seems immensely satisfied that his assessment of Togo's gung-ho tactics has proven correct. STill, at least it gives him something else to talk about over and over again.

The game somehow drops down another gear with Korea knocking the ball around for the last ten minutes - even the overenthusiastic Korean fans begin to get a little frustrated with their team's running the clock down. At last it's all over, and Simon signs off by pointing out that "for the first time in their history, South Korea have won a World Cup match on foreign soil!"

Back in the studio, Marcel Desailly is clearly more interested in the build up to the France game than analysing the match, although he does make an admirable attempt at analytical cliché when commenting on Mohamed Kadar: "He is like a fox in the..." "...box" helps Ray.

Marcel doesn't think Abalo's first yellow card was justified, although the others are only too willing to defend the man from Tring. "Well you can understand Graham Poll getting slightly nervous, getting his cards in a twist!" is Ray's attempt to excuse Poll showing red then yellow. It's been that kind of afternoon.

What we've learned: It's quite hot in Frankfurt, apparently. Oh, and Togo are quite plucky for not self-destructing under all the pre-tournament shambles. And it's a bit hot.


Blogger Lord Bargain said...

I have been enoying Gordon Strachan's daily revelations of the huge footie megastars that slipped through his fingers whilst at the Saints.

If he had got all these lads, he'd have some sort of random World XI and Abramovich would have presumably bought Southampton instead.

It does confirm what a tit Rupert Lowe is, however. Just in case there was any doubt....

10:48 pm, June 13, 2006

Blogger Ben said...

I was amused to see Poll mix the cards up - and to hear Bright seemingly forget the word "option" in explaining the decision. He really was pleased with himself when Korea scored the second, wasn't he?

11:21 pm, June 13, 2006


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