Remember when Roberto Baggio missed a penalty kick in the 1994 World Cup?
What surprise does the 2010 World Cup hold in store?
Read on, and leave your comment.
I begin this post with an amusing anecdote that has, at best, a round-about connection to the World Cup. Bear with me.
When I landed at Heathrow Airport earlier today, some friends arranged to have a car pick me up. Great idea, I thought, as the lay-over was ten hours before proceeding to Cape Town. (My friends work for a Canadian company which has a big operation out of London)
While I expected someone to wait for me, I didn’t expect the sign.
The sign, reading “Mr. Bobo”, is an acknowledgement to the nickname that has followed me since playing Bantam hockey for coach Milt Burrows. He named me in honor of famed baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky.
The nickname has stuck with my childhood friends who played sports with me. It’s lost on the friends and colleagues I’ve met in adult life. And it was certainly lost on the woman holding the sign.
That said, she delighted in hearing the story of how I got the nickname, and seemed to be even more delighted in having to hold up a sign with an unusual name on it. “It’s not what I come to expect,” she told me. “Kind of freshens up the day.”
Quite right, I thought to myself. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and I take it as a reminder to expect the unexpected over the next five+ weeks as I cover the World Cup.
Roberto Baggio will be the first to warn you that even the best of the best miss what’s supposed to be a given from time to time. In the process, they can go from hero to goat.
So, what to make of my expectations of what’s going to happen on the field?
Brazil, Spain, England, Italy, Germany, and Argentina are the favorites to win. The Rooneys and Messis are supposed to dominate. Will it be those countries and those players?
How about the Afrcan countries? The experts say this is not the year to expect a breakthrough. But will they be proved wrong?
And what about the host nation? Never mind the team they have on the field, but how about the people of the country. How will they embrace games?
Experience – and little sign for Mr Bobo – remind me to be ready for anything. We know how everyone has arrived to this moment, but we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Can’t wait to find out.