37 Day Until The World Cup

4 05 2010

Hips don’t lie, baby. Oh it’s true. When you read today’s version of the countdown know that I’m not kidding … people are actually mad about Shakira and her rendition of “Waka Waka.” Everyone, unless you’re a big Shakira fan, hates HER on the song. The beat is actually pretty sick and like I mention in the column, the spanish version is not bad. I’m posting the video below. As always if you wish to read it online you can find the story here.

What Shakira has to do with Cup
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
You better believe that before the ball rolls on June 11, every aspect of the World Cup will be dissected over and over again.There are your more pressing issues like personnel, heightened security, in-game decisions, etc. But when I say everything will be dissected, I mean everything.   

Take this week, for example. More than any player making news as we get closer to training camp roster announcements (May 11), the headlines in the last couple of days have revolved around Shakira.

Yes, the international pop star has struck a chord with soccer fans with the recent release of “Waka Waka Time for Africa,” the official song for the FIFA World Cup.

It isn’t a good chord either because people for the most part hate the song.

The majority of the murmurs are coming out of the host country itself with the biggest complaint being that FIFA should have selected a local artist to interpret the song. While Shakira, with an assist by South African band Freshly Playground, did her best to try and capture the spirit of the nation, South Africans feel that the Columbian singer fell way short in her attempt.

And it isn’t just her participation. The Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys are just some of the acts scheduled to perform at a June 10 concert and the cries from the South Africans have already forced FIFA to involve more local acts in the show.

I’ve never been much of a Shakira fan … O.K. that isn’t entirely true, but that said the song when sung in English doesn’t do the trick — it’s missing a true emotional connection that should be present in a song like this mainly because lyrically it falls flat as most of her songs do when they are written in Spanish then loosely translated into English to fit the melody. Fail Shakira, fail.

You can understand why FIFA would want someone like Shakira to be attached to a project like this, as evident by all the attention it’s already getting. But in a Cup that means so much to the host people I’m going to have to agree with the haters — even at the expense of popularity the song should have gone to someone from Africa.

In Shakira’s defense, the song is way better in Spanish and she has never looked better — but now on to soccer.

Foot in mouth time

By this time next week they’ll only be 30 days left until the World Cup and the initial plan was to start making picks for all eight groups at around this time stamp. The way things are set up for the tournament 32 teams are broken down into eight groups of four — each of which will play each other once with three points awarded for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. The two teams with the most points after the round robin phase advance to the next round. With that background information out of the way it’s time to choose the winners of group A.

Group A teams: South Africa, Mexico, France, Uruguay

If I were smart I’d take: France, Uruguay
But since I’m not, my picks: South Africa, Uruguay

Uruguay is an easy take in this group. My South Africa pick is based on the ever-important first game. While common sense would side with the Mexican team, I think Game One will be a scenario where the stars will align for South Africa. Maybe there isn’t too much to read into with Mexico’s 0-0 tie with Iceland, but it was an eye-opener. That coupled with the emotional atmosphere in front of a frenzied home crowd and I think South Africa pulls off an upset against Mexico. Uruguay is definitely the most talented team in this group and I don’t see them losing at all in the initial stage. With them pulling nine points that would mean South Africa would most likely advance with a tie against a French team that (a) probably shouldn’t have qualified for the World Cup in the first place and (b) is in the middle of a huge scandal involving one of their superstars and a 17 (then 16) year old girl. I think South Africa manages a tie and advances with four points, keeping alive a streak in which no host country has ever failed to not advance to the second round of a World Cup.

Nate Silver, a statistics genius doing work for ESPN, says that South Africa has a 38 percent chance of advancing — the lowest in group A.

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