My FIFA 2010 World Cup started in earnest only when the Argies came to play. Since the time I have been able to understand this sport, Argentina's been my absolute favourites. Irrespective of their performance, this team has enjoyed my unconditional support for the last 16 years. I have celebrated with Batistuta's goal, raged against Beckham when he scored against them in the 2002 games, cried with its quarter final loss at 2006 finals. Growing up in Assam, we didn't have access to Internet and its immediate access to information and photos. So the newspaper cuttings was my only way to preserve the memory of the game. Pasted in my football diary, these photos carefully annotated with footnotes in my childish handwriting were my way to relive the game, to savour in the lazy afternoons, to enjoy in the quite evenings.

Realistically, Argentina winning the cup is slim. Penetrable defense, an aging Veron, the inability of Messi to score, and a showman as coach all adds up to the saga that is Argentina. But everything is forgotten when you see Messi touching the ball, creating opportunities where none existed. And when he pushes towards the goal, your heart skips a beat, at least mine does. I hold my breath, pray to the god pantheon and resort to garbled Assamese as a way of encouragement.

Coming back to the game. The lone goal was scored by Heinze (17th International goal). There were a number of missed chances by Tevez, Veron and Samuel. Messi himself had five chances to score. All brilliant attempts but didn't find the spot inside the nets. According to TOI, Messi was denied due to the brilliant save by the Nigerian goal keeper, Enyeama. But I differ. Of course he made a number of good saves, essential when the Nigerian defense was in disarray, but not all attempts by the Argies were brilliant. There is a very thin line between talent and tenacity. Messi has both in abundance, but whether he can fulfill his destiny as the match winner for Argentina remains to be seen.

Conclusion: Argentina 1, Nigeria 0.

Thaar found pleasing to the eye: The entire Argentina team

Verdict: The coach competing with Messi for camera attention. With his wild gesticulation, the day may not be far when Maradona might be banned from the dugout.


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