Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"They have their bags packed, but they want to go home with a win," says the commentator at the start of Costa Rica-Poland, the shadow match of Ecuador-Germany. Both matches are played simultaneously so no nation can ride on the success of another.
The principle is lost with this match since neither team can qualify for round two, no matter the outcome. The match is even nicknamed, 'the match for the wooden spoon'. However, principle is still what the teams are fighting for, the principle of honor.
"The crowd is up for it," says the commentator while the stands are roaring on the players. They want a world cup match.
Both nations start cautious and the first news to report comes from the other screen, Germany leads one to nil. The news still seems to affect the game. Poland passes the ball faster, looking for a hole in the defense of Costa Rica. While Costa Rica chases the ball, challenging every possession.
On a counter Costa Rica doesn't beat the defense as much as the defense beat itself, when Poland conceits a free kick to Costa Rica, on the edge of the penalty box. Three players of Costa Rica extend the wall of the Polish. Perfectly planned, the men dive out of the way of the shot. The keeper is tricked, his view is blocked.

"He gets nutmegged," calls the commentator the Costa Rican deception of the Polish keeper.
Poland seems to fall apart in the next minutes. Without a doubt, the coach on the bench fears for his job.
His nerves can settle when a corner ball lands in the feet of a Polish striker.


"This crowd, mostly Polish, is going wild for their team," says the commentator. "They don't care if the goal wasn't pretty."
Poland grows back into the game, but, like Costa Rica, it sputters to organize a shot on target.
Both nations showing of technique, but fail to control the ball at crucial moments.

"The defense effort of Costa Rica has been excellent today," says the commentator at the start of the second half. "The Polish attack doesn't seem to have a second gear."
News of the third goal of Germany overshadows the volley of a striker of Costa Rica.
"You got to hope there is a roof on this stadium," jokes the commentator.
Actually, his first touch, when he flicked the ball from his left foot, over his head, to his right foot, was brilliant.
Poland cannot break the Costa Rican defense. Shots are blocked, corners headed out, and the keeper of Costa Rica saves a long-range shot.
However, Poland show that persistence, and practice, pays. A striker heads a corner, a high ball to the far post, in the net. A play that can be learned from all soccer manuals.


"The crowd is absolutely alive," says the commentator.
He sounds surprise, he should know this is a world cup game, no matter what, it is of the most importance. The stands agree full-hearted with me, they ballad the players as if this is the final.
Costa Rica comes close to an equalizer in the eighty-second minute. A striker lobs it over the Polish keeper, who is ten meters of his line. The ball bounces, and the striker heads it into the empty goal. Perfect, if the lineman had not raised his flag for offside.
Poland comes close to a third goal in the eighty-seventh minute. A striker dives between two defenders low over the grass. His body stretches in the path of the ball, which rockets from one side of the field to the other. However, the ball travels with to much momentum and his header barely chances the direction of the ball.
When the referee blows his whistle the battle for the wooden spoon is finished, and Poland has won it.