A football World Cup of mixed emotions

The darkness of the scandal of match-fixing by some of the leading clubs hovered over the Italians throughout the World Cup and it was instructive that the suspension came before the final game at the tournament.

The peoples of the Caribbean are often considered connoisseurs of sport.
Some liked Brazil, if only because it is the one team that reflects a certain measure of racial integration historically and which has given the world the fanciful dribbling that now characterises much of the game.
Others in the region were partial to England, if only because of their old colonial heritage the vestiges of which seem too difficult to eradicate.
Yet others wanted France to win, because of their love for Zidane and Henry.
Some considered Germany, playing at home, the team to beat.
All of the foregoing lost hope as the tournament progressed.
Brazil never looked the part. No one could have explained the continued presence of Ronaldo, over grown with fat, on the field for every game played by the South Americans. Ronaldinho seemed too tired from his exploits in Europe and was not even a shadow of himself. Roberto Carlos was simply growing old.
The truth is that the Brazilian coach would have done much better with the younger players than seeking to maintain the balance that never was. He should have learnt from the internal games played by the team just prior to the Cup.
England pinned its hopes on an aging Beckham and a Rooney who was just returning from injury. In the midst of everything else, the team lost Michael Owen through injury much too early.
Dear old England never looked the part and were destined to lose.
Argentina showed early class and the players displayed great footballing skills and speed.
Unfortunately, when it mattered, the Argentinians did not show themselves capable with the penalties and went home in disappointment.
The Czechs were once thought to possess the goods enough to make it through to the semi finals at least. That never happened as Ghana showed them the way out.