Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oranje Squash(ed)

A very curious incident happened yesterday which made me realise how reputation and the image one projects to society is well, important, even if it causes a loss. As Nana Patekar said in Bluffmaster,” Sorry ki baat nahi. Image! Image ki vaat laga di tune. Main apni hi nazaron mein gir gaya!” Well, enough crap and lets get to the point.

Yesterday, the ‘Oranjes’ were squashed and how! (And I’m not talking about the Nagpur ones either) Netherlands lived up to its reputation of being a choker in crucial games. It had breezed through the 1st round, massacring all three teams on the way. It was the ‘Yamaraj’ in the group of death. Italy, France and Romania were the scalps it had conquered.

And then there was Russia.

The game started on a pretty scrappy note with both teams squandering chance, notably by Roman Pavlyuchenko and Kolodin and some missed/untaken chances by Sneijder, van der Waart, de Jong etc. In the second half, Russian pace proved too much for the Dutch with a series of crosses being put in the Dutch penalty box. Van der Saar was the man for the Dutch. But he too was breached by Pavlyuchenko, when he met a cross by Semak. Russia looked a completely different side after the return of Andrei Arshavin.

The Dutch pushed forward with van Persie, Sneijder and co. Sneijder tried a shot every minute he got the ball near the box, but failed. Sneijder finally succeeded in putting in a cross which was met by poacher supreme van Nistelrooy. But instead of going for the victory, the Dutch switched off and took the game to ET (extra time).

In ET, the Dutch looked tired and lacked the punch which had been in abundance in their earlier games. They were inefficient almost complacent. The Russians were incisive in their build up and fired home two more two help the Dutch retain their title of being chokers. Edwin van der Saar could only look on as the the 3-1 scoreline took the game beyond the Dutch. Mr. Hiddink, take a bow. Have some 'Oranje juice'.

Even if the game had gone on to penalties, Netherlands had the odds against them. I doubt there would be a worse record in penalties than Netherlands. Its 1/5 times that they have won in the matches which went to penalties.

So, 2 teams I support have choked. Now time for Spain to prove me wrong and go through to the semis.

Of course, they too can choose to maintain their reputation. After all, image ka sawaal hai.

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