Gone but not forgotten? South America’s 2010 contribution

By Jonathan Gilbert
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The Samba rhythms have been quelled, so too those of the Guarania, the Cueca and the Tango. Uruguay remain as the sole South American representative in South Africa.

Their presence has been drastically reduced in number, and their critics’ fickle heads have reared, but the South American sides’ 2010 World Cup legacy will be a lasting one.

A languid start had left the crowds uninspired. Their droning vuvuzelas became the topic of conversation, not the football they had convened to see. Defences were frugal and goals were scarce.

Then came Chile, who arrived for their first game against Honduras in Nelspruit as the second-placed team in CONMEBOL qualification.

They showed why. Cast aside were the negativity and timorousness of the opening fixtures. In their place the world was finally treated to attacking audacity and an intrepid attitude reflecting the true spirit of the beautiful game.

Marcelo Bielsa, unsuccessful in South Korea and Japan with Argentina, has created a formidable Chilean team which was unfortunate to draw Dunga’s Brazil in the last 16.

Argentina, dispatched by yet another brutally methodical German side, also had the world kvelling about the verve and dynamism emanating from South America. Messi, Higuaín and Tévez appeared umbilically linked by an innate desire to pass, dribble and score. 4-0 against the South Koreans and 3-1 against the Mexicans. Maradona made a swift return to his celestial pedestal. The Albiceleste’s adventure, though, was suffocated by Klose and co.

Such captivating performances were to be expected from Argentina. But Paraguay and Uruguay came into the tournament with slightly lower expectations.

Uruguay were only worthy of a place in Group A after contesting a play-off, whilst Paraguay’s effervescent form tailed off in the latter stages of qualifying.

In the Finals, however, both teams have displayed valiance in abundance. Paraguay came close to providing one of the competition’s biggest upsets, Spain once again facing ardent resilience from a former colony. Uruguay, meanwhile, beat a fine Mexico side and did away with African dreams.

Brazil, despite the disappointing nature of their exit—failing to show the gumption to recover from the Wesley Sneijder brace which put them behind in the quarter-finals—and accusations of excessive pragmatism, still echoed the Garrinchan flair of the past.

Both the Ivory Coast and Chile were swept aside with ease. And Robinho, Elano, Maicon and Fabiano all showed glimpses of the flamboyance which will make the Canarinho stern opposition on home turf in 2014.

The Murga may be the only South American dance on show in the semi-finals in 2010 but the continent’s weighty, beguiling contribution to proceedings this summer will not be forgotten.

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