3:55am – The alarm goes off so that I can maintain my record of having watched every one of Australia’s World Cup matches during my lifetime live. Sure, I may have drifted off during the loss to Brazil 4 years ago. But I was awake for most of it, dammit.
3:57 – As I turn on the TV, Ned Zelic is saying that for him, it’s all about what happens once Australia have the ball. Now there’s perceptive commentary – it’s half of the game, isn’t it?
4:06 – The Thunderbird informs us that Australia “have to play with this,” pointing at his head, “and they have to play with this,” pointing at his heart, and he reminds us that “No-one has this heart that Australia has.” With insight like that, I almost want to purchase his book. And hold on, wasn’t the game supposed to start at 4:00? The set-top box’s TV guide now says that until 4:30, I can “Get ready for the Socceroos’ first match in the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the SBS team of experts.” Bugger me.
4:12 – Have turned to Channel One. The Twins throw the first pitch in their afternoon game against the Braves.
4:19 – The Braves’ Jason Heyward hits a broken-bat RBI double to right-field, scoring the first run of the game before the Socceroos take the pitch.
4:22 – Heyward scores from second. From everything I’ve seen of him during the past 3 minutes, I completely agree with those who say that he should be the rookie of the year.
4:30 – Kick-off. Feel like I’ve just lost 30 minutes of sleep that I’ll never get back. Won’t take Lee Lin Chin at her word the next time she tells me when to wake up in the morning.
4:38 – “Podolski scores!” While Australian defenders ask for an offside call, the Germans take the lead. Feels like it might just be a long morning. Aren’t Germany famous for scoring early goals and then shutting the game down for dull 1-0 wins?
4:41 – A German receives a yellow card for diving. Well done, Mr Ozil. From this point forward everyone in our country will refer to you as Kane Cornes. We will also be in love with the Mexican referee – where was he when we needed him in the Italy game 4 years ago?
4:54 – A beautiful slow-motion replay of Craig Moore shouting “Fuck off” at the linesman. Someone buy the producer of this broadcast a beer – that choice of shot was pure comic genius.
4:56 – “And Miroslav Klose has made it 2-nil!” A pin-point cross – Dennis Cometti would have referred to it centimetre-perfect – lands on Klose’s head just before Schwarzer manages to have his fists on it. A beautiful goal for the neutral supporters in Durban. Not so much for those of us hoping the men in blue-and-blue-and-a-stripe-of-yellow can score a point from the match.
5:00 – Kane Cornes ends up in a one-on-one with Mark Schwarzer, chipping the ball over him before Lucas Neill somehow clears the ball off the line. Neill remonstrates again with the linesperson appealing for offside. Why is it that soccer players raise their arms when they want an offside call? You’d swear that the linesman isn’t allowed to raise their flag unless there’s an appeal – almost like an LBW – the way that the Aussies are asking for it. Kevin Muscat suggests that Neill might be slightly embarrassed to look back at the replay of some of these moments when he’s complaining to the referee. He’d be right.
5:03 – Is it just me, or do goalkeepers often look like they’re attending “Wear your pyjamas to work day”? Mark Schwarzer’s red ensemble certainly gives that impression.
5:08 – As a German misses a score-able header, I’m trying to find the right analogy: Australia is to Germany… As Richmond is to Geelong? As the Timberwolves are to the Lakers? As Mundine is to Ali?
5:13 – How did we reach a stage where a loss to one of the World’s greatest footballing nations seems like such a shattering blow for Australia? Just four years ago, qualifying for the World Cup Finals was regarded as one of the greatest moments in our country’s sporting history…and yet now, it’s as if qualifying is just the start and anything less than some success at the Finals themselves should be regarded as a failure.
5:25 – Half-time involves a chat with the other Facebook friend who is online, whereupon I learn that Hewitt defeated Federer in the final of Halle overnight! I wouldn’t usually be so excited about Hewitt scoring such a win, however I had him in the Fantasy Tennis competition this week. It’s the year’s third title for me and the sort of news that was actually worth getting up so early for.
5:41 – Tim Cahill is sent off. It shouldn’t have been a red card, and wouldn’t even have been a free kick/penalty in any other code of football. Suddenly, people from Broome to Bruny Island are no longer fans of the Mexican referee. In the most pathetic rule in soccer, Cahill will miss the match against Ghana. Haven’t they learnt that crap calls like this have far too punitive a punishment? That being said, this should make the rest of the game even more entertaining for the neutrals – bring on some more excitement, Germany!
5:48 – A quick check of the scores: Braves 6, Twins 0. On this day, Australia is to Germany as Minnesota is to Atlanta.
5:49 – Nikita Rukavytsya comes on for the Socceroos. Here’s hoping he scores a hat-trick and we have a flood of baby boys with the name ‘Nikita’ in future. He sounds like he should be a cute little Romanian gymnast.
5:53 – “And it’s 3-nil for Germany. It was a marvellous finish.” And it certainly was: a goal that somehow went through Lucas Neill’s legs.
5:54 – Cacau comes on for Germany. We bring on a Romanian Gymnast, they bring on an exotic dessert that I’m sure Skye made on MasterChef at some stage during the past few weeks.
5:56 – “And with his second touch, Cacau scores.” Unmarked, straight in front. At 4-0, I’d suggest that the Richmond analogy was appropriate. Then I remember that they actually beat West Coast yesterday.
6:02 – Something tells me that the ratings for the Australia v Ghana match aren’t quite going to equal those that have been earned by SBS this morning. Are we really going to get up in the middle of the night for a second dose of this?
6:08 – As if waking up 30 minutes before this 4-0 drubbing wasn’t painful enough, I now have ‘Nikita’ by Elton John stuck in my head.
6:11 – In referring to Germany’s shortest player, commentator David Basheer says that “What he lacks in height, he makes up for in heart.” Ahh, but David, remember what the Thunderbird said before the match: no-one has the heart that Australia has. And hasn’t that been evident this morning.
6:17 – Worst noises heard while watching sport on TV: 1) The grunting of Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters. 2) The commentary of Darrell Eastlake and David Morrow. 3) Vuvuzelas.
6:19 – “And it’s all over. Germany has completed a comprehensive victory over Australia.”
6:20 – The post-match commentary starts. Ned Zelic opens by saying “If there’s any positives to take out of this match, it’s that we still are in this tournament.” Indeed.