One of the problems about living in Taiwan is that major sports events (I wasn’t here during the 2002 World Cup and 2008 Olympics) always take place in the morning or the late night. Hence why I’ve been unable to catch any games of the ongoing Euro 2012 football tournament which is taking place in Poland and Ukraine. The games start at 12 midnight and 3 and I haven’t been compelled to stay up to catch any match. But at least this gives me one thing to look forward to when waking up on weekdays when one of the first things I do is check the scores on my phone.
So the group stage of the Euro 2012 is about to finish later tonight when the final games of group D with England and France will be played. Well, I don’t care too much about England but I hope they get through. I don’t like France but they seem to have gotten over their disgrace in the last World Cup. Actually I was thinking that the Netherlands seem to have suffered a similar fate to France. One of the top teams in the world and a firm favorite to win this tournament, the Dutch suffered 3 straight defeats to go crashing out of the Euro 2012. They have a team full of stars, but they couldn’t get their act together and seemed disjointed and dispirited. Furthermore the coach adamantly stuck to his tactics while heavily criticized for the first two games, before belatedly coming out with a more offensive lineup in their mustwin final group game, only to lose to Portugal and a rampant Cristiano Ronaldo. There’re so many articles about the Dutch debacle with the coach, who’ll probably be given his walking papers soon, the players, ex-players, and their media all lamenting their fate.
I’m happy with Germany so far. Drawn in the same group as the Dutch and also a big favorite, Germany won all their games to get top spot and will face Greece. I’m a little fearful of this matchup because Germany has lost to East European minnows before in crucial knockout matches plus the Greeks went through much stronger teams in 2004 to win the Euro that year (I’m still a little amazed how the Greeks advanced from their group this time). I do find it hilarious that on the economic front, this is the ultimate grudge match between a nation that’s basically out of money because of its profligacy and lackadaisical work ethics and the rich nation that can save them but is refusing to and demanding they get their act together.
I was at the World Cup in South Africa, and got to take in two good group games with Germany destroying Australia and South Korea battling Nigeria to a 2-2 draw. I’ve always supported South Korea because they were a East Asian country that always qualified for the World Cup since I was a kid. I used to think since China never qualified (they finally did in 2002 but it wasn’t a good experience for them), I might as well support South Korea. Japan has also been doing well too but I don’t support them as a nation for historical reasons. Unfortunately China fans will have to wait until after 2014 to see if China can qualify for the World Cup because China tumbled out of the qualifying rounds early this time for the 2014 World Cup.
Recently though, Chinese football/soccer has made a few headlines. Shanghai Shenhua signed Nicholas Anelka, the former French international and Real Madrid and Chelsea “star,” while Guangzhou has done well in the Asian Champions League. Now, there’s talk that Ivorian and Chelsea star Didier Drogba will be joining Shanghai while Guangzhou Fuli (the other Guangzhou team) might be signing Nigerian and Blackburn striker Yakubu (incidentally he played in the World Cup game I attended in Durban back in 2010). It’s good to have more big names play in the Chinese league, but I hope that club owners also remain mindful of developing domestic players and also that things don’t become as farcical like in Shanghai a few months back.