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Thursday, July 15, 2010


A Spanish 'beauty' in South Africa

The 2010 World Cup held in South Africa ended Sunday with Spain winning its first championship by defeating the Netherlands 1-0 on Andres Iniesta's goal four minutes from the end of extra time. Spain is the third national team to become world and European champion at the same time.

It was the Netherlands' third defeat in a World Cup final. It had lost to West Germany in 1974 and to Argentina in 1978. Praise goes to the 32 participating teams, which gave the world excitement and emotion, and to South Africa, which hosted the first World Cup in Africa.

Spain thrilled fans by playing with lots of short passes to work the ball up the field. Spanish media praised the national team with such phrases as "A victory by beautiful soccer" and "To remain forever in history." De Telegraaf, the largest Dutch morning paper, said the national team "fought like a lion." But, referring to its third defeat in three World Cup finals, it said "The World Cup in South Africa will enter Dutch history as the third football trauma."

For Japanese, the 2010 World Cup was memorable. The Japanese national team came out much stronger than expected although it lost 5-3 to Paraguay on a penalty shootout in the second round. This was a great feat for a team that had lost confidence after losing four friendly international matches in a row prior to the World Cup.

Before the start of the World Cup, team manager Takeshi Okada introduced a style that focused on defense. Players successfully adjusted to this change of tactics and they unified as a team. In Group E, Japan defeated Cameroon 1-0. Although it suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to the Netherlands, it beat Denmark 3-1. The team's fighting spirit ignited enthusiasm in Japan. The Japan-Paraguay game enjoyed average audience ratings of more than 50 percent although it was broadcast late at night.

As the Spanish team exemplified, the 2010 World Cup underlined the importance of transforming the skills of individual players into strong teamwork under a well-thought-out training program.

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