By Subendran Ravindran
Brasil lost 2-0 on penalties to Paraguay after missing all their penalties (first four) in the Copa America 2011 quarter-final match, this was after a drab 0-0 draw. Both teams did not deserve to go to the semis, but this Copa was all about a series of unfortunate events with the football calendar bursting with an overflow of events. The World Cup under-17 and under-21 crammed in with the European Under 17-Championship, The under-17 crown was won by hosts Mexico while the under-21 will take place next month in Colombia and Spain beat Switzerland in the under-21 Euro final, let us not forget the CONCACAF Cup too with Mexico winning that.
The Copa America now becomes a low grade tournament trying to squeeze in, not to be forgotten and not challenging the Euro finals next year and at the same time not clashing with the World Cup qualifiers. The result of this was a messy field in La Plata where each time a penalty was taken by Brasil and Paraguay, chunks of pitches came out, this was because the penalty spot was uneven and the players could not wrap their foot around the ball for a better kick, Paraguay though understood Darwin’s theory of evolution better and adapted fast by using the side of the foot, nevertheless if there was a way where both teams could be voted out of tournament it would have been done in the group stages. What was more interesting is that these two teams already met in the group stages-drew 2-2- and somehow they meet again in the quarter-finals, further stirring amused feelings about the Copa Jokamerica…sorry America. Paraguay still have not won a game in 90 minutes or extra time, they have drawn all their games and are still in the semi-finals.
The African Football Confederation has the guts to stand tall against other leagues and big clubs in Europe by playing the African Cup of Nations in January and February-the next tournament will be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon scheduled from 21 January to 12 February, 2012-. The African tournament however has seen much quality and worldwide following and as the players are at their peak, quality football is seen. Initially there was much worry about some players refusing to play, but even if this happens in the future the talent and quality coming out of Africa will make this tournament a cracker to watch.
The Copa America should follow suit, granted they might be many players refusing to play, but the South Americans never lack talent and think of it this way, it cannot be any worse compared to the tournament in Argentina this year with the hosts going out to Uruguay too. This Brasil team though lacked character or charisma, the big name players with strong personality to carry the team forward. Apart from Lucio, Ramirez, Fred, Maicon, Daniel Alves and Elano none of these players have the big game mentality and Neymar has a lot to learn and it will be interesting to see how and which club will approach him now.