Friday, July 02, 2010

Sports Cliches Ahead

The agony and the ecstasy was on full display at the World Cup in South Africa today. First, mighty Brazil was upset 2-1 by the orange-clad lads from the Netherlands. Not a huge upset in my estimation, but big enough. And Brazil lost for the first time ever in World Cup play after leading at halftime.

But the real agony came in the literally final seconds of extra time when Ghana snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Tied 1-1 with time running out and the game headed for penalty kicks (arghh), Ghana, the only African team remaining in the final 16 (and final 8), put tremendous pressure on the Uruguay goal. An Uruguayan defender had little choice but to use his hands to deflect a shot at the goal mouth. If you're not the keeper, you can't do that. Ghana's star Asamoah Gyan lined up for a penalty kick as the extra-extra-extra time ran out. Fully 85% of penalty kicks are successful in high-level matches, so Ghana and an entire continent were poised to explode in celebration what seemed a certain victory for the Black Stars.

And then they found themselves in Mudville. Gyan banged his shot off the crossbar - no goal - mighty Gyan had struck out. Predictably, Uruguay went on to win the PKs 4-2 (although Gyan made his penalty kick then).

The thrill-of-victory-agony-of-defeat guy who fell off the ski jump every week for years at the beginning of ABC's Wide World of Sports didn't feel any worse than Gyan.

See it (and read about it) on ESPN to believe it or watch the whole game ESPN3.

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