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I can’t believe it’s been 44 years since I started watching World cups. In 1974 we watched on a black on white TV that had one button, a knob to change channels and a little dial for the volume. How technology has changed.
What a thrill it was to see our Socceroos battle it out with footballing nations such as West Germany, East Germany and Chile. The World Cup has always held a special place in my sporting life since that time, and I can’t wait for the current version in Russia to begin.
One of the early talking points is the state of Mohammed Salah’s shoulder. Suffering the injury playing for Liverpool against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, the Egyptian maestro looked to be out of contention for the World Cup. But the Egyptian medical personnel are doing everything in their power to get him ready for their opening match against Uruguay.
It looks likely Mo Salah will play, but can he be 100 per cent? Spain’s Sergio Ramos would hope so. An Egyptian lawyer has threatened to sue him to the tune of $1.5 billion. That’s enough for a knock-down rebuild of ANZ stadium.
All the teams have been busy with preparations over the past month or so, trying to strike that balance between peak fitness and burnout after a long domestic season. Argentina missed an important hitout when they cancelled their scheduled friendly against Israel in Jerusalem. It would have been difficult for Lionel Messi, a favourite among Palestinians in the Gaza strip, to play in such a politically charged fixture.
Israel fired back with a call to have Argentina expelled from FIFA. I’m not too sure how far that is going to go.
Boy, the Mexicans know how to party. Talk about a send-off. After winning their friendly match against Scotland in Mexico City, they were reported by some media outlets as partying for more than 24 hours. And all this for a friendly. Who knows what will happen if they make the knockout stages.
Spain’s often thorny relationships between management and officialdom exploded spectacularly overnight. Coach Julen Lopetugi was shown the door due to him accepting the manager position at Real Madrid. There is no word on a replacement, but Spain could hardly have begun the tournament on a worse note. The bookies will be scrambling to adjust their odds.
I just can’t wait to break out the snacks and pull up a seat on the couch in the wee hours (and as the years pass I’ve learnt to time my wee hours to the half-time interval). Yes, sit right back and flick on the remote, which is fine if the game is on SBS, but at last glance they were showing less than half the games. To get the other matches requires an Optus subscription.
So the other day at lunchtime I headed down to my local Optus store. “Go online”, said the person at the counter. When I asked for more information I was told to get the app Fair enough. Before I left I asked whether I could also pay my latest phone bill. “Go online,” was the reply.
So I got the app and signed up for the sports pack. Now what? I figure I have to buy a HDMI cable to connect my computer to the TV. Being a ‘leave it to the last minute’ type, I hope they don’t have a run on HDMI cables – knowing my luck I’ll end up having to buy one on the black market.
All this talk of technology got me thinking about the video assistant referee, which will be in use at the World Cup for the first time. How much controversy is that going to spark? Hopefully there won’t be too many A-League grand final-type moments, but with the power to retrospectively issue red cards, this could get wild. To be honest, I think the technology was much more efficient back in 1974.
This World Cup will be such a buzz. Whether you are a football fan or not, don’t miss a minute. It will be a long four years if you do.