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After the final whistle had blown, it was hard to witness the disconsolation of the defeated Dutch players, sharply contrasted by the elation of the new world champions. But Spain fully deserved their win. They kept their cool in a match that could have gone either way for the longest time, would have gone Oranje's way if Iker Casillas had had an off day, and finally went La Furia Rioja's way after 116 minutes of tika-taka, very little chances given, and the dirtiest tactics Oranje have ever employed.

I don't know what it would have said for football if Oranje had won. But Spain held it together and finally saw that brilliant break and pass from Fabregas to Iniesta seal the deal on aggregate. All hail the conquering heroes!

Now may they choke on it.
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According to the octopus, Oranje will lose tonight. But Mani the predicting parakeet of Singapore says they'll win the championship. I just wish it were over already.

Twice previously have Oranje made the finals. Both times, they lost. I was 11 when this happened in 1974, and although I didn't care about football then (other than having an occasional friendly kickabout with the neighbour's sons), I do remember the general despondency that descended on the nation after the match. But also the optimism that next time, our lads would surely prove unbeatable. And then they lost again, in and to Argentina, in 1978. The general feeling then was that we was robbed, and it had all been a conspiracy between FIFA and the generals. No wonder we felt elated when those same generals got their comeuppance in their confrontation with Mrs. Thatcher a few years later.

32 Years it took Oranje to find their way back into the finals. Strange that it should have happened for the team that plays a different type of football to the one that made Oranje's reputation. In fact, our opponent Spain appears to have been playing that kind of combination football more than Oranje during the whole of this tournament; but then, their selection includes 6 or 7 blaugranos, and Barça were led by Cruijff and Rijkaard, and have employed a total of 35 Dutch players since the 70s. Something's bound to have rubbed off.

Spain have been playing the most attractive football over the course of this tournament. The Netherlands have been playing the most effective -- they've remained unbeaten in 25 successive matches. Can they make it 26? They can, if they keep their wits about them: come out and attack from the very first minute, play for possession, keep pressing, and don't give away too many chances. That includes taking care not to get booked too often: it's a telling fact that Oranje have accumulated 15 yellow cards during their stay in South Africa, while Spain has only been given 3.

In conclusion, I do hope that Oranje will bring home the trophy. But Spain perhaps deserve it more, because they've been playing a better, more attractive and entertaining football, and on grounds of general sportsmanship.


Jul. 9th, 2010 04:41 pm
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It's hard to imagine that as little as four weeks ago, I still had the heating on. It's 29C and muggy today, with little or no wind. It was the same yesterday, and I was so hot and sweaty I asked the hairdresser to cut my hair really short this time, and she I wonder what on earth possessed me.

This morning at my physio's, the ultrasound showed no (zero, nada) pockets of inflammation in the tendon of my right arm. Michiel officially declared my tennis elbow a thing of the past, though just to be on the safe side, I asked him to have a look at it again in three weeks time. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to train up my arm by doing some simple weight-lifting exercises.

These days you can't go anywhere without perfect strangers trying to engage you in conversation and sound you out as to what you think Oranje's chances at winning the football world championship are. Front page news this morning was that of all the newborn baby boys registered in the last month, twice as many have been given the name Wesley as was the case pre-World Cup.

I've thought about going to Amsterdam, to watch Sunday's match on the Museumplein's big screen, but a million plus people are expected to make that trek and what with the heat and the undoubted chaos that will ensue, I've decided to stay and watch it in the comfort of my own flat. I won't be alone as Allan has said he'll come down from Amsterdam to watch it with me -- he can't be doing with the madness that is likely to prevail either, so it seems.

Owners of houseboats moored in the Amsterdam canals are nervously awaiting the outcome of the match: if Oranje succeed in bringing home the Cup on Tuesday, they'll make a circuit of the canals, and the police again expect upwards of a million people to want to come down and line the route. Last time this happened, in 1988 when Oranje won the Europa Cup, several houseboats were sunk beneath the weight of daytrippers jumping onto their roofs to get a better view, and the insurance didn't cover it. And it won't if it happens this time, either.

ETA: It looks like the good burghers of Amsterdam needn't worry: Paul the Octopus has predicted another Spanish win.
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Once again, Paul the Psychic Octopus picked the right box: Sunday's final will be a test between two nations who have never yet won the World Cup, and who've never yet played against each other in either the World or the European championships. Whoever wins it will cover themselves in undying glory. But if Spain brings that same level of organisation, technical skill and tenacity as they showed in today's match against Germany to the final, then our side are going to have their work cut out keeping them from laying their hands on that trophy.
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They've done it, Oranje have reached the finals! For the first time in 32 years, they've got a shot at the Cup.

A pity Uruguay was given an opportunity to score a second goal in stoppage time, but as Van Marwijk has just said, it's the final score that counts and The Netherlands have done what they set out to do, to take this final hurdle.

Who will they meet in Johannesburg on the 11th? I'll be rooting for Germany tomorrow.
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12 hours before kick-off. 13 1/2 hours before we'll know whether Uruguay or Oranje will meet the victor of tomorrow's match between Spain and Germany in the final on the 11th.

Van Marwijk has declared all players in the selection fit, but won't announce who he'll field until an hour or so before the match. Van der Wiel and De Jong won't be deployed though, as they've each got one yellow card too many. Boulahrouz and De Zeeuw will probably be replacing them; the former a solid defender and the latter a competent midfielder, but neither particularly quick or creative. Van Persie still hasn't shown why Van Marwijk should have selected him over Van Nistelrooij, but then, the midfield hasn't been passing the ball to him all that much in any of the previous matches. And there have been too many mistakes made by the defenders in the back. Remember Robinho's goal? It was Robben, our right winger/forward who fell back to the 16 yard line in his wake!

Sneijder's done very well so far, but I'm sure he'll be marked, as will Robben and Van Persie; and then who else do we have? Elia? Huntelaar? I think that as in previous matches, our side will have to rely on Stekelenburg, who's only conceded 3 goals in the tournament: 2 from penalties. Those are very good statistics and I'm no longer bewailing Van der Sar's retirement.

My current favourite on the Dutch side though, is left winger Dirk Kuijt. He may not be pretty to look at, but my word! how he grafts! Up and down that line for 90 minutes straight in each and every match, he's the team's workhorse, and his passes are deadly accurate. And unlike Van Persie and Sneijder, he doesn't have an ego.

On the Uruguayan side, neither Suárez nor Lugano will play; but Forlán will still be there and he's proved himself more than capable of scoring from 30 yards away. Very good at corners and free kicks; and if it should go to the penalty stage, I don't think he'd miss. Abreu will probably start as well, he seemed quite relaxed about taking that last penalty against Ghana. So even if the pundits in the media continue to bleat how Holland is their hands down favourite, I'm trying very hard to keep my expectations low, so as not to be too disappointed when the underdog surprises everyone.
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I was so sure Brazil would send Oranje packing. And it seemed like they were going to, in the first half. They could so easily have sent our side to the locker room two or three goals down, but they stopped at one...and that was their mistake, as it turned out.

The Netherlands came out fighting in the second half, and kept the pressure on from first to last. The equalizer, when it happened, and however it happened (FIFA has ascribed it to Juan, but it seemed to me to have been deflected or come off the top of Melo's head) restored our team's confidence and after that, everything just seemed to go their way and I think they won the match deservedly.

Now we've got Germany-Argentina to look forward to tomorrow -- two sides that I think are evenly matched. I'm not going to even attempt a prediction at the outcome.

ETA: After initially ascribing the goal to Juan, FIFA then gave it to F. Melo for a day or two, before finally deciding to add it to Sneijder's score sheet, making him one of the championship's top scorers.
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It's hot and humid and I can't sleep. Tomorrow This afternoon, The Netherlands will meet Brazil in the quarter finals of the World Cup, and I fully expect them to lose; which is a shame as I've managed to accumulate quite a nice little collection of Oranje icons over the last few weeks that now, sadly, will have to go unused.

Day 30: A song you haven't listened to in a while

Emma Kirkby & Evelyn Tubb sing Chiome d'Oro, by Monteverdi

the rest of the days )

Earlier in the meme, when asked to list a song that reminded me of my best friend, I came up with Monty Python's Sit On My Face, which Peronne would usually begin to sing after she'd had a glass or two. This song, though, and in fact the entire cd from which it's plucked (Emma Kirkby & Evelyn Tubb sing Monteverdi Duets & Solos with The Consort of Musick - Director: Anthony Rooley, Innovative Music Productions Ltd., 1987), will forever remind me of my other dear departed friend Joost, who even though he was a lifelong Bob Dylan-fan, whenever he came round to mine would frequently choose to put on. Which is probably why I haven't listened to it since well before his death.
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So far, my tactic of pretending to support the other team by rubbishing Oranje and occasionally shouting "Come on, Denmark/Japan/Cameroon/Slovakia" at the screen seems to have been quite effective in tricking the gods of football into letting the side I really want to win through to the next stage.

This afternoon's match was their first in the tournament that I actually enjoyed watching; maybe not for the full 93 minutes but there were more good bits than bad. With Arjen Robben back in his usual position on the left wing, it seemed like the boys were back in town but sloppy defending almost caught them out a few times. Next up, they'll face either Brazil or Chile...and if they can't do better in the back, it'll be their last match on the world cup stage for another four years.

And I include our goalie in that category of players that must do better: to concede a penalty and get himself booked in the 92nd minute seems to me to be beyond stupid -he had done pretty well up to that point-; although it must be said that the reffing throughout this 2010 World Cup Championship has been atrocious and quite the worst I've ever seen. Why FIFA still won't allow technology to assist referees in their decisions is beyond me.

ETA: Well, it is going to be Brazil up next, and I don't think my ploy is going to work there. I fear Holland will be out of the Cup on Friday.
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Day 25: An acoustic song you love

Not only acoustic, but a cappella as well: Hildegard von Bingen's Ave Generosa as sung by contralto Margaret Philpot on the 1981 Gothic Voices cd A Feather on the Breath of God, probably my favourite example of ars antiqua (a music genre popular in the 11th and 12th centuries).

the rest of the days )

I have no words to express how immensely satisfying I thought last night's conclusion to Doctor Who was. in case the next few lines may be considered spoilery... )

I can't do meta as other people in the fandom can; my thoughts on television shows, even the ones I like more than any others, don't tend to run that I'll just finish by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed both the writing and the acting in this last series, and am looking forward to seeing Amy, Rory and Eleven again this coming Christmas.

The England vs. Germany game has just kicked off, but I'm not that interested in watching: neither team have really impressed so far and I'm indifferent as to which one of them will go through this afternoon. I am glad though that Ghana won their match against the USA yesterday; as they are the only African team still remaining in the competition, I think it will give a tremendous boost to the sport in the whole of the continent.

I missed the Netherlands' game on Thursday as I had a friend round for dinner; but I understand that again they didn't show any of the wonderful 'total football' they displayed in the qualifying stages. They'll be playing against Slovakia tomorrow, and I'm seriously worried they might not progress any further, if only because over the last few days every commentator and football analyst have expressed their opinion that Holland easily outclasses 'football midget' Slovakia, and pooh-pooh the fact that that 'football midget' eliminated reigning world champions Italy last week. That's tempting fate, and I don't like it.
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Day 22: A song that would be the theme song to a TV show about your life

The way I'm feeling now, that can only be Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - The Smiths

the rest of the days )

I've just come back from a counselling session at the Job Centre. Apparently, 8 weeks out of work is nothing to be ashamed or get unduly worried about.

A friend is coming round for dinner later; I'd better see what's in the fridge. I wonder if I can persuade her to watch the footie with me (The Netherlands vs. Cameroon)? Oranje may have gotten through to the knock-out stage already, but I'd like to see if, like England yesterday, in this last game of the group stage they've remembered how the game is supposed to be played.
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Over the last few days, I've been watching most of the group matches in the World Cup Championship, which I never would have been able to do had I been in work. And maybe that's why I'm not enjoying it as much; almost 8 weeks after losing my last job, I still haven't managed to find another and I'm quietly despairing that I ever will. Even though I keep telling myself I shouldn't let it, every rejection letter I receive nibbles away at my confidence a little bit more, making it that little bit harder to show some in my next application...and the next.

Thankfully, I had my first meeting with my 'work coach' at the Dutch Job Centre equivalent, i.e. the person assigned to help me get back into work mainly by monitoring my applications and determining whether I've done enough to still qualify for benefit (which luckily, after having perused my letters, he considered I had) earlier in the week, and managed to convince him to allow me to follow a training course and workshops which I hope will help me focus better at the job in hand of restoring my confidence and becoming better equipped to reach my objective.

Yesterday, I had what in all likelihood will turn out to have been my last ESWT-treatment, as the ultrasound they took showed that the inflammation in the tendon was significantly reduced, by which I mean it was almost wholly gone, much to my surprise as it still hurts quite a bit. I'm going back in for a final check-up in 3 weeks time, and in the meantime I'm expected to do a set of daily excercises that I had to go and buy dumbells for. They're only small ones, weighing a kilo each, though they feel much heavier in the hand of my bad arm.

Anyway, back to football: I don't think it's wholly down to my depressed state that I'm not overly enthousiastic about the tournament so far. Although many of the supposedly top teams seem to have put in decidedly lacklustre performances, others not rated nearly so high have shown some surprising resilience. I wouldn't have placed any bets on Greece staying in the competition at all at the start of their match against Nigeria, especially after Uche scored so soon after kick-off. But then Kaita got himself sent off, and Greece somehow pulled it out of the bag in the second half. And Switzerland won convincingly against Spain.

Last night's match, between France and Mexico, showed the French side in complete disarray and Mexico walked off the pitch the deserved winners. Now I'm watching Germany-Serbia; I'd had high hopes for Germany but they failed to convince and then Klose got sent off (through a questionable decision by the referee), interesting to see whether they can rally in the second half. They field a good solid squad so they should be able not to concede too many opportunities for the opposing side, even if they are down to 10 men.

ETA: Well, that shows how much I know! Germany never really got back into their stride after the first half, and Serbia beat them fair and square. Luckily, the US against Slovenia proved a far more entertaining match, and I couldn't be happier for the Americans that they managed to draw level from trailing 2-0 behind in the second half. Poor refereeing got them their third goal disallowed, but even so, they've done enough to show the world that they're no longer the footballing lightweights they used to be.
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I was shocked to realise that we're already 11 weeks into Doctor Who, which means the season will be coming to its end very soon. Then what will I do on a Saturday night?

Last night's 5x11 'The Lodger' was particularly satisfying, though perhaps not so much on the sci-fi bit, but it certainly delivered on the semi-naked Doctor, the Doctor trying to be a real boy, the semi-naked Doctor, the Doctor as a football natural, and did I mention the semi-naked Doctor?-front. And it was particularly lovely to see him share a flat with Smithy (I'm sorry, I've already forgotten what James Corden's name was supposed to be in this episode).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Matt Smith so completely and unmistakeably inhabits the role of the Doctor that any comparison, whether favourable or unfavourable, to any of his predecessors is pointless; so I just believe, sit back and enjoy.

In other news, England scored their first point in the group matches. So did the USA. I wish I could say well done to both teams, but the way I see it, England will have to improve a lot before their next match, particularly in the back. Their defense appeared weak, which was fine as long as they remained in possession of the ball up front, but proved a real concern whenever one or more of the opposing side's players managed to move to the box. Luckily, the Americans were never able to finish their rush on goal properly, but I do think Fabio Cappello will have to rethink his defensive strategy. Cavanaugh (was that his name?) seemed hardly able to keep pace with anyone coming into his area from the other side, and had to resort to one or two instances of if not foul play perse, dodgy tackling at least.

By the same token, the guys up front should ask themselves why they fluffed so many good opportunities. Howard, the American goalkeeper, held his own against the England team pretty well, but I had a feeling that wasn't so much indicative of his goalkeeping abilities but because they made it easy for him to stop their attempts on goal. On the other side of the pitch, the way Green fluffed that ball and then curled up in utter humiliation as he saw it go past the line was absolutely heartbreaking. Will he bounce back before the next game? Who else have they brought to keep goal for them?

To finish, today's musical offering is all about

Day 11: A song that reminds you of summer

Long Hot Summer - The Style Council, and not just because of the title! Whenever I see this video, it reminds me of how, when I was at Uni, I used to spend carefree, sultry summer days picknicking in the park and punting on the river in the company of my friends...where have they all gone, eh? And by that I don't just mean the majority of those people I used to hang out with (they've got married/moved away/died), but where have those long hot summer days of yore gone, I wonder. Here we are, the 13th of June, and it's still grey, and wet, and miserable. And I'm very much sick of it.

ETA: since Vevo have blocked the original music video on YouTube for copyright infringement, I've had to dig up another clip (also from 1983):

the rest of the days )
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Hours before their departure for South Africa, it seems our side have lost Robben, a key player, to a hamstring injury. If he rejoins the team before the end of the World Cup tournament, it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Still, today's match against Hungary served to showcase that Oranje are fit and stand a reasonable chance of making it past the first round, though their next match against Denmark is going to be a tougher nut to crack than this friendly.

I haven't been paying much attention to the run-up to the World Cup, and so was surprised to learn when I sat down to watch the match this afternoon, that Van Nistelrooij hasn't made the selection (although the sports commentators are already speculating that with Robben out for the count, he may be called up after all). That saddened me, as he is one of the players I most like to watch. Also, minutes before the kick-off, Van der Sar was made an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau on the pitch and after receiving a standing ovation, walked off an ex-goalie (that is to say, of the national side only; I do believe he still keeps goal for Man U). I knew he'd retired from the team, but still...seeing him feted made it real, and it made me feel old. Van Bronckhorst has taken over his captain's armband, but after July 11th, he's also retiring from the sport, so that's one more of the old guard leaving. In fact, I don't think there's any one of them left! So I guess now it's up to Van Persie, Van der Vaart and Sneijder to show that the players may change, but Oranje will continue to play attractive football as only Oranje can.

Today, the temperatures soared above 20 degrees and with hardly any wind, it was actually quite nice out. I took the opportunity to treat the balcony, my little outdoor space, with algae killer after which I was covered in green sludge and a touch of sunburn. Hopefully I'll get a chance to make use of the space now that it looks nice and tidy again, although the forecast predicts there's another cold spell on the way, and I don't know that we'll get more than one or two days of summer this year. I still haven't put my winter wardrobe away.
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Kung Fu Panda

We saw the billhoardings advertise the release of this film while we were in France, and decided that as a family, we would like to go and see it as soon as it came to The Netherlands; so when, a couple of weeks later, hp announced that they'd organise a special preview of it for employees and their families, I wasted no time in inviting my sister and her kids. Unfortunately though, on hearing that it would mean having to rise early on a Saturday, and being a family of notoriously late sleepers, they declined. Which is why I, always up with the dawn chorus and having this thing about never passing up on free tickets to anything that might prove fun, ended up going on my own. The film was excellent, very very funny and quite easily as entertaining and colourful as my beloved wu shu films on which it is so obviously modelled. Although it did feel a bit strange for me to be sat in a theatre surrounded by hundreds of ex-colleagues and their children; so strange in fact that I decided to forego the socialising over breakfast in the foyer after the movie, but just grabbed a few muffins off a passing tray and went on my merry way back to The Hague. Anyway, I definitely recommend it, and I want the dvd as soon as it's available.


by which I don't mean Christian Kane's Kane, but the Dutch rockband of the same name, played the Feyenoord stadium in Rotterdam Saturday night. It was their first gig in almost two years, and it sold out within half an hour of the tickets going on sale back in November. My sister, who's as big a fan of theirs as I am of CoRo or DB, had been counting the days for months, and I don't think she was disappointed by what she got. She danced, she screamed, she wore her Kane-top with pride, and I enjoyed myself as well (even if I had to mime the words to their newest songs -- Monique had loaned me their latest album the week before, but I hadn't bothered to listen to it) -- they put on a wonderful show; very energetic, and at least I did know their older stuff...sort of.

Kula Shaker

played the Parkpop festival in my hometown last night, and they were on fire! They rocked like an enormous rocking thing, and I don't know why they weren't headlining (Sheryl Crow was). The crowd certainly seemed to like them, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage, too. It being an open air festival, and there being just the four of them, I wasn't sure that they'd be able to recreate their album sound, but I needn't have worried. All I can say is, if I thought Big Country's trick of making their guitars sound like bagpipes was neat, I was amazed by how Crispian Mills could make his sound like a multitude of sitars and sarods.

And didn't Spain do well? I'm so pleased they won the EuroCup; for once, the team that played consistently well, didn't lose a single match and showed they understood what it means to play total football, went home with the ultimate prize. It's a pity though, that I can't collect mine, as I'm no longer cleared to enter the hp premises -- I put my euro on Spain winning at the beginning of the tournament, although I didn't foresee that the winning score would be 1-0.
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Poor Turkey. They ran rings around the Germans in this match, and were definitely the stronger team on the pitch, but in the end, Germany scored the winning goal in the very last minute of normal playing time. All I can say is, if they defend as poorly in the next match, then whoever they play against won't have too much to fear.
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And it's all over now for the Dutch team. Russia the deserved winners of tonight's match. But boy! does it hurt to have to admit that...
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I signed on this afternoon. Times and especially technology have changed since the last time I was unemployed, back in the early 90s -- these days, you're encouraged to sign on online! Still have to follow this up with a phone call for an interview some time in the next couple of days, though. And then hopefully I'll be able to expand on some of my replies...

Meanwhile, I bumped into an ex-colleague the other day, and when he heard I was looking for work, he said to send him my resume and he'd pass it on within his company. Just now, another colleague has promised to put in a good word for me with the company he used to work for before he came to hp; apparently, he's still got contacts there. And I might give that P-dude a ring; you know, the one who was all pie in the sky after my interview in April and who then never contacted me again...

Thankfully, my horoscope this morning read something about me (well, not me personally but Leos in general, obviously) starting on this new and exciting future and it being natural to feel scared but there really being no need, and I'd land on my feet soon enough. Let's hope that for once, my horoscope is right.

In other news: I am stunned that Portugal played such a dismal game against Germany last night. I expected them to do much better; I even thought they might win the Cup again. That was before our national side rekindled the hope of a Dutch win in my heart, of course...though I'll wait for them to get past Russia before going through my wardrobe in search of something orange.
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A good result. It took them a while to create a few chances, but then when they did, they didn't disappoint. So Holland and Italy are through to the quarter finals, and who knows, if they keep playing like this, they may even meet again in the semis.
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Wow. What a great game to watch, esp. in the second half when France went on the attack and forced our team to up their game. Poor Henry though; he only had half a minute to savour his goal before Robben scored at the other end. Who'd have thunk it: Holland are through to the quarter finals, and they did it by beating two very strong teams.


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