Paul Marcuccitti


 
Paul Marcuccitti is a passionate soccer fan from Australia who will share his views about the World Cup in this column.

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The Final Draw in early morning



    Did you watch it too? In my time zone, the show started at 6.00 am. You get used to that sort of thing if youíre a football fan in Australia. So welcome to early Saturday, Down Under.

5.40 am Oooh good morning world. Why arenít I still asleep? Oh yeah, Iíve written at least six columns that have something to do with the draw since the last World Cup so I suppose I should watch it.

5.45 am Les Murray, a veteran football and sport broadcaster in Australia opens the show for Aussie viewers. Heís in Leipzig. Murrayís done a lot for the sport in this country but, man, who finds those terrible suits he wears?

5.46 am Murray interviews John OíNeill, Chief Executive of Football Federation Australia. OíNeill says Australia is ďnot just there to make up the numbersĒ.

5.49 am Murray throws to Andrew Orsatti in the Australia studio. Orsatti is joined by former Australian international Craig Foster, and Branko Culina who has been a player and coach. Culinaís son, Jason, plays for the Socceroos. Theyíre already speculating about Australia drawing Brazil or Argentina.

5.50 am We see John Aloisiís winning penalty against Uruguay again. Iíve now seen it about 35,000 times. Anyway, show it again.

5.51 am Foster talks about who he wants Australia to draw? Not Brazil. Not Netherlands either.

5.52 am Branko agrees. No to Netherlands. No to the Czechs. No to USA.

5.53 am We see the pots and how they were determined. You already knew all that because you read my columns.

5.58 am How many Mastercard commercials will I see between now and July?

6.00 am Lights, music, players, fans. The showís about to start.

6.01 am Here comes Reinhold Beckman and Heidi Klum. All right! Europeans went to sleep after seeing Heidi but I woke up to her.

6.03 am Hey, Heidi just mentioned Australia. Come over any time.

6.04 am Horst Kohler (German Prime Minister) and Sepp Blatter come on to stage. Blatter gets a better reception than he did at the opening ceremony of Korea/Japan.

6.06 am Kohler thinks Jurgen Klinsmann is doing a good job. Well, he wouldnít get employed anywhere in the German media.

6.07 am The German Chancellor is also there. Nice. You wouldnít want to imagine that the World Cup was an unimportant event.

6.08 am Blatterís saying something about making the world a better place. Kohler wants Germany to play Netherlands. Donít we all!

6.09 am Here comes the FIFA World Cup. Yes, the trophy.

6.10 am The President of the Brazilian FA has to hand the trophy back to Sepp. That must be difficult.

6.11 am Sepp gives the trophy to the President of the German FA.

6.12 am Everyone gets to hold it. Now Heidi gets a turn.

6.13 am We see all the countries that have qualified.

6.14 am Hooray. Thereís Australia.

6.16 am Here comes Horst Eckel, World Cup winner in 1954. I like the old leather ball heís got.

6.17 am I wonder if Les Murray (who is from Hungary) is enjoying the reminiscing about West Germanyís win (over Hungary) in the 1954 World Cup Final. Probably not.

6.19 am Eckelís going to kick the ball and Ö suddenly we get colourised footage of the 1930 World Cup. Now we go through a quick history of each tournament.

6.20 am Hey, this leather ball is talking. Iím scared now.

6.21 am The ball says heís not sure whether he crossed the line at Wembley when Geoff Hurst scored. Of course you did! Oh oh, now Iím talking to the ball. Look, I just woke up, OK?

6.22 am I suppose we had to see Beckenbauer. Great player and coach but he says some silly things sometimes. He has one of those footballs with the little black pentagons on it. That is so 1970s.

6.25 am Another video. Itís by the director Wolfgang Becker. And itís showing peopleís love for the game. Itís funny in parts. I particularly like the female players kicking a ball into a wall of cardboard men and laughing when they strike the ball in the spot that male players protect with their hands.

6.27 am Now there are cows playing football against each other on a sloping pitch.

6.29 am I like this clip where an ice hockey player scores a goal with a header.

6.32 am Back to the stage. Now weíre talking about the different venues. Beckenbauer talks about how teams wonít be based in one city. Theyíll all travel through Germany.

6.34 am Now there are little kids coming on to the stage; 72 of them. That was as predictable as seeing Beckenbauer. Itís probably time to put the kettle on.

6.35 am But wait, Beckenbauer is talking about the ball Ė the black and white 1970s version.

6.36 am Franzís turn to kick the ball. Is this ball going to talk too? Yep, it does. Now itís on to footage of the World Cups from 1970 to 1986.

6.38 am Heidiís pretending that she lost the FIFA World Cup trophy. OK, thereís a magician/illusionist on the stage now. Iím definitely putting the kettle on this time.

6.42 am Iím back with my cup of tea. I can see from the kitchen that all Iíve missed is a little magic show. At some point I saw the magician give Pele a newspaper which he tore up and magically put back together again. If this guy conducts the draw weíll know that itís been fixed.

6.44 am Itís mascot time. The mascot can talk too Ė and he has another football that talks.

6.45 am Reinhold is talking to the ball about Hurstís goal in 1966. Are Germans ever going to get over that? Come on, youíve won two World Cups since then.

6.46 am Oh no! Now the kids are dancing on the stage.

6.47 am Now weíre on to the worthy work that FIFA does for disadvantaged children. We see another video focussing on a little boy called Dimitri and heís with Andriy Shevchenko.

6.50 am Back to the stage and now we see Jurgen Klinsmann. Luckily for Jurgen, Beckenbauer is no longer on stage.

6.51 am Klinsmann has a ball too Ė a more modern looking one.

6.52 am More talk on a potential Germany-Netherlands matchÖ And Klinsmann kicks the ball. The ball starts talking again and briefly takes us through the World Cups from 1990 onwards.

6.53 am Michael Ballack is on stage now and heís juggling the ball that will be used for next yearís tournament. Thank goodness this ball doesnít talk. Otherwise Iíd have to see my doctor.

6.54 am Ballack is asked about the ball. Apparently he likes it. Well, heís hardly going to say that itís rubbish.

6.55 am Ballack gives the ball to Heidi Klum and she introduces Juanes whoís going to sing for us.

6.58 am Heidi and Reinhold are dancing on stage to the music.

6.59 am Iím a bit bored with the entertainment now. Can we get on with the draw?

7.00 am Ah, itís Lennart Johanssenís turn. I suppose he is head of the World Cup Organising Committee so we had to hear from him.

7.01 am And now itís Urs Linsi, General Secretary of FIFA. Oh they all say nice things donít they? Iím sure they do behind each otherís backs as well.

7.02 am Now we get to Marcus Siegler, FIFAís Communications Director. Hooray! Heís going to do the draw.

7.05 am Siegler startís explaining the principals and procedure of the draw.

7.06 am We see the teams in each pot in a nice computerised display.

7.07 am Ah, the Serbia & Montengro pot. Iím surprised he can explain this part with a straight face.

7.08 am More talk about the procedure. OK, Iím getting nervous now.

7.09 am Now heís talking about Germany already being in Group A and Brazil already being in Group F.

7.10 am Star players, past and present, are coming up to do the draw now: Roger Milla, Christian Karembeu, Johan Cruyff, Cobi Jones, Pele, Masashi Nakayama, Lothar Matthaeus and Lucas Radebe.

7.13 am WEíRE OFF! Pot 1. England goes to B1; Argentina to C1; Mexico to D1; Italy to E1; France to G1; and Spain to H1.

7.16 am On to Pot 2. Itís all happening so fast all of a sudden. Ecuador to Group A (itís not the opening match though); Cote díIvore to Group C; Paraguay to Group B; Angola to Group D; Ghana to Group E; oh no, Australia v Brazil in Group F!; Togo to Group G; and Tunisia to Group H.

7.23 am On to Pot 3, the UEFA teams. Poland to Group A (still not the opening match though); Sweden to Group B (with England again!); Netherlands to Group C (to play Argentina); Portugal to Group D (to play Portuguese-speaking Angola); Czech Republc to Group E; Croatia to Group F; Switzerland to Group G; and Ukraine to Group H.

7.29 am Heidi comes back to draw where Serbia & Montenegro goes. It goes to Group C and thatís a tough group.

7.31 am Now to Pot 4. What will the opening match be? Itís Germany v Costa Rica in Group A. Trinidad & Tobago goes to Group B; Iran to Group D; USA to Group E; Japan to Group F (Australiaís first match is against Japan); South Korea to Group G; and Saudi Arabia to Group H. Siegler did well; no mistakes.

7.38 am Reinhold and Franz are going through the groups now but Iím still calming down. I canít believe Australia is playing Croatia Ė with all the players of Croatian background in Australiaís team and some Australian-born players in Croatiaís, thatís almost a derby.

7.42 am Heidi lifts her skirt a little but before you get excited itís just so she can kick the ball away with some comfort. We get some famous classical music now. Nice, but Iím already looking at the match schedule. Where am I going first? Kaiserslautern for Australia v Japan.

7.47 am Commercial break. Good, I really need the bathroom after all that.

7.51 am Fantastic! I get back to the television just in time for another Mastercard commercial.

7.52 am Back to the Australian studio. Now our analysts are going through each group. Branko Culina says ďitís almost as if itís been rigged in Germanyís favourĒ. Hey Branko, tell us what you really think!

7.53 am Group C. Itís really tough. No one has said ďGroup of DeathĒ yet but surely itís just a matter of time.

7.55 am Group E. This is a tough group too. And on to Australiaís group, Group F. Craig Foster says ďpeople might call it the toughest group at the World CupĒ. I doubt that. But I agree when he says that we can beat Croatia and Japan.

7.58 am Branko Culina is excited about playing Brazil. Iím terrified!

7.59 am Foster predicts Australia will get through to the second round.

8.00 am And the showís over.

    Wow. How nerve-wracking is that? Overall, the presentation was good. Iím never that interested in the entertainment but most of it was OK. At least it didnít go for too long; after just over an hour, we got down to business.

    Well the draw always provides talking points. The group phase promises some interesting matches: Germany v Poland; England v Sweden; every match in Group C (especially Argentina v Netherlands); every match in Group E (a group which reminds me of a certain group at Italia 90); and Australia v Croatia will be of particular interest to people from those two countries.

Let the analysis and predictions begin!



 

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