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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The curtain is ready to rise: FIFA World Cup

Few encounters leave such an indelible mark on a FIFA World Cup™ as the Opening Match. After four long years, fans can finally see their sides rejoin the quest for football's Holy Grail, and the joy that this brings is invariably worth the wait.
Down through the long history of the competition, there have been opening matches of every description: from the unusual scenario of extra time in the Switzerland-Germany opener of 1938, to shock defeats for defending champions Argentina and France by Cameroon and Senegal in 1990 and 2002 respectively.

How could anyone forget that gravity-defying leap by Francois Omam-Biyik of the Indomitable Lions that left Diego Maradona and Co licking their wounds at Italia 90? Or the hair-rising sound of a packed Azteca Stadium roaring out the Mexican national anthem after the stadium’s sound system had failed in 1986? Even today when these images are replayed, they never fail to stir the senses.

At Germany 2006, the host nation will have the privilege of playing in the Opening Match, an honour that had been bestowed on the defending champions for the previous 36 years. On 9 June, the Mannschaft will be hoping to make a good first impression on their expectant public and give them the first of many great evenings during the competition.

Costa Rica, for their part, will be looking to take inspiration from the historic opening-day feats of previous underdogs and become the first team in the tournament's history to beat a host nation in the inaugural game of a FIFA World Cup.

So, the stage is set and the interminable wait is almost over. It is now time to celebrate and enjoy what should be a feast of football. After all, how often do you witness an event that draws an audience of billions? The road to the Final in Berlin is sure to be historic and unforgettable, and one nobody will not want to miss



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