When OTP roving reporter Dan O’Connor found out the World Cup was coming to a new continent for the first time, he knew he had to witness it for himself. Unfortunately, he arrived in Asia eight years too late. And he went to the wrong part of Asia. But here is the first instalment of his World Cup travel diary nonetheless.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. That’s excuses from me for not updating my blog, not the sound of English fans worldwide ‘at 2-2 it’s a different game’. I’ve not updated in a while due to missing large chunks of the tournament while trekking through the Thai jungle and enduring horrendous 24-hour Italian Job-style, cliff edge coach journeys on roads that make Snakes Pass look like the M6 toll road.
Watching England’s World Cup campaign from south-east Asia has been almost as disastrous as the actual campaign itself. For the USA game we were surrounded by absolute idiots making it difficult to concentrate on the tiny tv screens. The Algeria game kicked off at 1.30am and quickly became the best sleeping tablet I’ve ever had.
For the Slovenia game we had the wise idea of watching in an English pub advertising English commentary. Unfortunately, it was Alan Green and it was five seconds ahead of the pictures, resulting in initial cheers followed by a much damper cheer when Defoe won the game.
We took in the Germany game in a bar in Laos promoting ‘the biggest screen in Laos’ – a 32inch plasma TV which was four seconds behind the smaller old school TVs just behind it. Every time there was an attack my head lurched left and my eyes squinted to find out what was going to happen four seconds into the future (more often than not a German goal), making me feel like I was in an episode of Quantum Leap.
One major problem with watching the games over here is that the people running the bars don’t have a clue which games to show. During the final group games we had to endure the boredom of the Kiwis drawing again without having a clue that the defending champions were crashing out in the most exciting game of the World Cup yet.
Another problem is that the 1.30am kick-off time takes its toll on you when you stay out drinking until full-time then jump on a coach for eight hours to get to the next town. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep your eyes open as you slowly drift off to those vuvuzelas.
You do develop a strange opinion about incidents, like the Gourcuff sending off. I thought it was a clear red for dangerous play but I believe back in Europe it’s been seen as a disgraceful decision and his eyes were on the ball.
But my main gripe is not having a clue what’s been going on. Without having the endless permutations fed to you like a baby, you end baffled and confused like an old man trying to use an iPad for the first time. For the final group games I was convinced that Serbia had gone through, South Africa were sure to go through if France scored and Switzerland had gone through!
Catch up on part one here.