Monday, 06 July 2009

The Confederations Cup Experience

So the regional champs have departed following the confederations cup. It was a tournament that will probably be remembered most for the rise to prominence of the USA who made it to the final, and though they ended up losing to Brazil they displayed a quality of play and ability to score against highly rated opponents. This will help shed the 'technically inferior' tag they have held for having an easier qualification route to the world cups(than teams in the more competitive European and South American regions) perhaps hinting that they didn't really deserve to participate.

The football which was generally of a very high standard (with the exception of New Zealand perhaps who made it pretty obvious that they were a class below the rest). The hosts, South Africa, were fortunate to qualify for the semi-finals by getting through on goal difference in what was the weaker of the two groups. Bafana Bafana's biggest weakness remains their inability to convert goal scoring opportunities the way their more illustrious opponents can. South Africa don't look likely to progress far in the World cup to be held next year.

What about the tournament organisation? As a direct witness to this (being a spectator at 3 of the matches including the final) I can say that it was generally acceptable though level of organisation did defer by stadium. The efforts of the organisers to improve on the existing methods of parking when attending sports events locally has to be commended. So called 'Park-and-Ride' locations were allocated in the vicinity of the stadiums. A spectator would thus arrive and park his/her car at the designated area and then take a bus ride (free of charge) to the stadium (in Pretoria the bus convoy was actually given a police motorbike escort, enabling the buses to travel to the stadium without having to stop at the traffic lights). After the matches there was expectedly a delay in leaving the parking area due to the large number of cars exiting but on one occasion the cops actually blocked off traffic from other directions to increase flow of the spectators leaving which helped quite a bit.

Kickoff for the matches were either at 4pm or 8:30pm local time. It has to be said that the June-July period is the winter season (this being the Southern Hemisphere) and some of the late matches were extremely cold. At the final in Johannesburg I was seated high up in the stands behind the goal post on what was a rather chilly evening and the gusts of icy wind left me shivering despite having a jacket, scarf and beanie! I was left wishing I had brought a blanket along like some of the spectators sitting around me (will remember that for next year :).
Don't think the organisers could have done much about the weather aside from holding the matches earlier in the day but there are probably issues with TV viewership in timezones behind South Africa (GMT +2) that led to the matches being held when they were.