The Iron Curtain Strikes Back

June 16, 2010

I thought North Korea would come out swarming like bats all over the pretty boys from Brazil, bearing deadly crosses and killer drives from way downtown, all with a whiff of nuclear Armageddon. It didn't happen this way. Creepy tears of fervor from one of the Zainichi Koreans notwithstanding, things looked quite normal, with Brazil attacking and the North Koreans defending doggedly and trying to salvage some dignity by pretending to counterattack. But then things took a turn for the weird. Actually, there was no turn. There was nothing. Like quicksand, the game slowly sucked the Brazilians in. They never knew just how much trouble they were in until it was almost too late. Almost. Maicon's cheap shot from the sharpest of angles saved the day. There was no real celebration from the Brazilian side, only restrained hugs and pats and many, many sighs of relief. There was a pretty goal, too, from Elano, and that's when I really thought Brazil would start running up the score. They tried half-heartedly, but the 34-degree weather was starting to get the better of them. Clumsy and miserable in those turtlenecks and gloves, they started to lose a step or two. And that's when the swarm came - there was a free kick, a bounce, and then Ji Yun Nam brushed two Brazilians away as if they were little children, and it was 2:1, but with mere seconds left on the clock. The coaching staffs of Portugal and Cote d'Ivoire no doubt watched in round-eyed horror, but for me, this was the best game so far.