Monday, June 19, 2006

The Saudis shook the world with their draw against Tunisia, even leading the match for a while.
Ukraine was shaken by Spain, when the Spaniards put four balls into their net.
This game is between another underdog turned favorite, and a favorite turned underdog.
The whistle blows and Ukraine wants to settle this misconception early.
Within four minutes, a striker flies into the box, looking for the ball, which is coming from a corner. He jumps, and knees the ball into target.


Saudi smelled blood in their first game, and now they want a kill. Ignoring the scoreboard, they press forward. Only their goalkeeper is nervous. He punches the ball when he should catch it.
"When in doubt, punch it out," says the commentator, defending the keeper.
Ukraine tries to smother the dream of Saudi Arabia while the Saudis focus on an equalizer.
The referee makes a nice play in the seventeenth minute when a ball is played in his feet. The ball bounces to a Ukrainian striker who can extend it for a pass through the middle. To the refs relieve, that is were that story ended.
Twenty minutes in the game, Ukraine is a toe-length shy to strike a cross into the goal.
"Conditions are getting very slick, here in Hamburg," says the commentator while rain pours from the heavens. The momentum seems to slip for both nations.
Ukraine decides to take a change in the thirty-five minute. A striker put all his weight behind a shot from twenty meters.


"That ball is rifled in, Zaid never came close," shouts the commentator. While the television shows the long-range missile from all angles.
The game goes into halftime with the dream of Saudi hanging from a cliff.
"Rain continues to fall," says the commentator.
It is symbolic for the Saudis. Ukraine places the ball, with a fast pass, twenty meters from the goal. A Ukrainian striker extends the ball, crossing it in front of goal. A Third striker heads the ball from two meters, the keeper was to slow to react.


Saudi Arabia smells their own blood now, while Ukraine opens fire.
"It is target practice now," says the commentator.
However, the men of Saudi are true soldiers, and never give up the battle.
"This is no Quitting team," agrees also the commentator, while the Saudis fight for a loose ball in the Ukrainian penalty box.
The keeper of Saudi Arabia takes turns with the woodwork in the denying Ukraine a fourth.
Nevertheless, when Ukraine strikes fast over the left and, with a sharp pass to the middle, finds a free man ten feet from the goal, they recover full honors. The four nil loss, of last game, is balanced out when the ball bounces from the net.


When the whistle blows, Ukraine victors but the door to round two is still far away.
"I love the effort of both teams," says the commentator.
He is right, Saudi Arabia should not be too embarrassed, regardless the score. Their door to round two is not quite closed yet.