The Fight for the Cup of Life Begins!

The Logo for the FIFA World Cup 2006

Yes, my dear friends…that blessed time of every four years is upon us once more. The eternal battle for glory in the world's biggest ever competitive sports event – the FIFA World Cup!

Today, the opening match kicks-off between the host team, Germany and Costa Rica. The local Malaysian time for the kick-off is rather late, midnight to be exact, but you can be sure that I will be up tuning in to watch the match together with the hundreds of millions of fans around the globe! Nothing unites different people like the same passion for football!

I may never have learnt to play football as a child, but it had never stopped me from loving the sport and playing football computer games. I acquired a fairly good knowledge about football and the big names in the game thanks to my frequent playing of the simulation game Championship Manager, which allowed me to assume the role of a football manager. I learnt a lot about tactics, about formations and the importance of the different positions a player could contribute to turn the game around.

But I disgress. This edition of the World Cup proves to be one of the most exciting ones ever. Of course, Brazil will always be the perennial favourites of any World Cup, so therefore, I loathe the Brazilian team with such intensity that I could wish for nothing but the worst for them. For me, the team to watch will be England (despite Wayne Rooney's injuries and Michael Owen's apparent lack of fitness) and Guus Hiddink's Australia (I'm keeping an eye on Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka, cool players who ply their skills in the English Premier League).

England, despite everything that's been said by the press, critics and neutral observers, remains to be a very strong team driven by hunger and passion. More so is the hunger of the players and, of course, the hunger of their Swede coach, Sven Goran-Eriksson, who will surely want to leave England with the international football's top prize. I will certainly hope that will make him more exciting than four years ago in which he looked completely blur and nonplussed. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Peter Crouch and Joe Cole will be the ones the England team have to rely on to provide the goals, should neither of the top strikers fail to attain match fitness. Their defence has never looked stronger, and John Terry will certainly be looking to emulate Rio Ferdinand's superb performance in the 2002 World Cup. Ferdinand will most likely partner him.

As for Australia, they have the wily Dutch supremo Hiddink in charge – and that's enough to make them a force to be reckoned with even if this is only their second ever appearance at the World Cup. However, they are brimming with talent, especially since they have Marco Bresciano, Brett Emerton, their talismanic playmaker Harry Kewell, Josip Skoko, Cahill and Viduka in the line-up. Hiddink is certainly all-out to inspire the Australians to a sterling performance that will etch Hiddink's name into the history books as the coach who will lead a second different team into the semi-finals.

With that said, I'm gonna go get some shut eye before the time comes for the opening match kick-off!


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