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Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 14

Jun 26, 2014 Sport




Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

I think Brazil will do it at home, although Germany will be tough to crack.

What’s the appropriate punishment for Suarez?

He’s a muppet, at least 12 months off. You can’t be setting that example on the worlds biggest stage.

Kiwi sportswriter Ben Stanley is in Brazil, and has written at length about the women. It’s at the end of this blog. Discuss.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Brazil and spend a few days in Sao Paulo so I cannot disagree with him. I think he should just back himself and have a casual chat. Get out of your comfort zone, build up your confidence, you’ll get lucky one day!



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

It’s a pretty tight contest but from what I have seen so far Brazil and the Netherlands are my favourites.

Have you seen players of genius and have you seen villains?

I think under pressure the stars shine out. Messi has been brilliant at crunch times scoring when his team needs him most. Neymar has finished the crucial goals and when you talk about villains there really is only one – Suarez. How much trouble can one player get into?

Have you ever rowed in Brazil or a place with those kind of temperatures? Is it a special kind of agony?

I haven’t rowed in Brazil but I have rowed in some hot places, Beijing, Korea, Gifu, Bled. Yes it is tough but your body does adjust a bit then it’s just a matter of looking after yourself, drinking plenty, recovering properly. Recovery is key! Yes you suffer but so does everyone and if you get it right you can use it as an advantage as you have the ability to recover better than your opposition.



Who d’you think will the World Cup?

Brazil. I’d love to see Belgium win it – David and Goliath and all that – and I think the Dutch are overdue too, but think the Brazilians will get stronger as the tournament goes on. France could be worth a couple of bucks at the TAB.

What happened to England?

Poor old poms – cricket, rugby, football – nowhere to turn apart from winning warm ale contests. I would like to have seen them progress but lack of a world class striker, and naive central defenders meant it was never going to be this time.

I do think they will win another World Cup one day —sooner or later the laws of probability will throw up four or five world class Englishmen all in the same age group, at the same time as eight or ten competent other players

If you were in Brazil, and the opportunity suddenly arrived to twitch a rare and amazing vagrant bird, but a game was about to kick-off and you had a ticket, what would you do?

Well if it was in New Zealand I would probably have to go for the vagrant, but I compartmentalise in my mind, and keep the twitching disease controlled to New Zealand only. I still look for birds when overseas (I’ve just got back from Turkey and Thailand) but don’t stress too much if I miss something.

There are some big macaws I would love to see in Brazil but they live there so I could go to the game and still go for the bird before or after!



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

Brazil. I love that they are playing at home and they have some very beautiful ladies supporting them.

Luis Suarez bit an Italian. If you could bite one of your teammates, who would it be?

I would bite Manu Vatuvei’s face. He is always in my face and sometimes I just want to bite him.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

With Spain, England and Italy out you have to favour a South American team. Argentina?

Have you seen any players who look as though they’d be handy in the ring?

Wayne Rooney has a boxing background but most of them dive over the slightest thing so I’m guessing no one could actually take a punch.

Liam Gallagher from Oasis said that Australia’s captain Tim Cahill has “a slappable face”. Do you agree?

Tim Cahill is half Samoan. He’d slap Liam Gallagher back hard if he dared to say it to his face.

  • Joseph Parker will fight American heavyweight Brian Minto at the Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland on July 5.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?


Have you seen any players who you thought could be handy at karate?

Many of the players show the same agility and speed reflexes required in karate.

What could players learn from karate – physically, and mentally?

The mental and physical disciplines required for karate would be beneficial for soccer players in penalty situations.

Who would win in a fight – you, or Suarez?

[No reply.]



We can’t help but watch the World Cup because it is just so damn big in Europe. We’ve been in France and Switzerland so far and with both teams in the competition, it shows us the passion that the countries have for the sport. It’s really great to see how the sport brings the nation together.

I personally don’t have a favourite. Just watching the teams play with such skill and passion on the field is great viewing. There is just so much emotion when it comes to competing at the top level. Especially at competitions like this and the Olympics which are quadrennial, if you miss the opportunity, it could be your only opportunity and you may never get the chance to do it again!

I’ve never been to Brazil but look forward to going there to see the venue on a stopover back from Europe one year. We’ve been in some hot places. Korea was very hot and very humid which made it difficult to train and row in, but the body adapts over a week or so. Sometimes when we’re in Europe it can get scorching, so you just have to deal with what you’ve got and manage yourself as best as possible. That’s really the only way to handle the heat. Managing yourself as best as possible is key.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

Netherlands (I hope).

In your running career, did you ever race in temperatures and conditions similar to Brazil? Is it a special kind of agony?

Yes. It’s hot and sweaty and means you will probably run slow.

Lol. Where was this?

Adelaide, where it was 42 degrees. Papua New Guinea, where the race began at 5am to “avoid” the heat. But the worst is a combination of heat and altitude such as Colorado.

What does it do to your head?

It’s just something you take in your stride. You try and prepare as well as you can. Warm up a little less, drink plenty, wear light clothing. A marathon I ran in Auckland in 1980 – it was 27 degrees with high humidity – was difficult because it started at 6pm and the sun had heated the road. All races are different.



I haven’t seen a game, mate, Not one. I’ve been that busy putting on luncheons and that. I’m just about to step on a plane to Wellington. But listen, boy, I’ll tell you what I have seen. I’ve seen that fucking biting. Mate, that is a fucking disgrace. It is fucking disgusting. We all do silly things in the heat of the moment but mate he’s got form. He’s got a track record. He’s a disgrace not just to the game but to all sport. Fuck, mate, I’ll tell you. He should he banned for fucking life. Ban the bastard. That’s what I have to say about the World Cup, boy. Ban the bastard.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

Argentina. Messi is too good. They used to say “le pesa la camiseta” – the shirt weighs on him – but now he wears it effortlessly.

Is Luis Suarez, by any chance, mentally ill?

Well he’s definitely not a hundy, is he?

Would you kill someone to be able to be at the World Cup in Brazil? Who?

I would maim only. Removing Suarez’s teeth would be a good start.



The Good

The football. What a relief to see the demise of Spanish tika-taka (aka death by a 1000 passes) and the emergence of football with consistent attacking intent.

The foam. A simple tool that has given some much-needed authority back to the officials. Wondering when the first arbitro will succumb to the temptation to spray the outline of a giant penis (or is it only me that would do it?).

The ball. Unlike the Jabulani which performed like an out of control scud missile, the Brazuca has been magnificent. Its only side effect appears to be an extra “bounciness” that makes keepers reluctant to hold on to it, preferring to punch or parry.

The atmosphere. The noise emanating from the crowds is so consistently loud and upbeat that I’m beginning to think it’s being tacked on to the broadcast a la canned laughter.

The Bad

England. Has the pressure and expectation of representing the birthplace of the world game become too great a burden? A promising start against Italy deteriorated into a directionless, passionless, hopeless 90 minutes against Costa Rica. England looked as if they didn’t belong at the World Cup.

The Moaning. It has become the norm for managers to publicly slate officials and blame them for the demise of their team. Whatever happened to respecting the referee’s authority and maintaing decorum and integrity in the event of erroeneous decisions? Louis Van Gaal’s Netherlands won all three group games yet he slammed the officials. Petulant, self-indulgent, ignorant and arrogant. And they are his best points. Some sort of leader.

The Ugly

Luis Suarez. His sublime talent no longer compensates for his violent, anti-social behaviour. Football does not owe him indulgence. It must keep him accountable. Enjoy doing a proper job, Luis.

The Winner

Netherlands. Although Brazil are favourites their defence looks vulnerable, and that along with the pressure of expectation will account for them. Argentina and Germany also loom as contenders but for me the Dutch look to be best equipped to prevail and paint the football world a lurid orange.



Are Brazil, frankly, pants?

They’re never pants, they’re just not those wonderful teams we remember. Fred is a disappointment at striker: his movement, his shooting, his name. He scored with his one goal in this World Cup with his moustache.

But Oscar’s lovely touches and David Luiz’s authority are impressive. Neymar is 64kg, elusive but tougher than he looks. When he turns it on, Brazil can win any game.

Lol. What else is on your mind?

Wingers are important. Colombia’s James Rodriguez and Holland’s Arjen Robben prove that a winger can be the most influential player on the pitch. George Best showed that, so does Cristiano Ronaldo when he drifts back there. He gave Portugal a lifeline by going back to the wing for a just a few seconds.

Ivory Coast deserved better with this generation of players. They got the only group of death in South Africa in 2010 and this time they were thwarted by a last-gasp penalty against Greece. I don’t think Samaras cheated. Giovanni Sio caught his leg in the backswing and that’s a penalty. Drogba (36) won’t be back but I hope the Toure brothers, both in their early 30s, will return.

The social and mainstream media storm surrounding Luis Suarez is a full-blown frenzy. Biting is weird but I’d rather have a superficial bite on my shoulder than have someone leave their foot in, studs up, leg rigid, while you follow through (like Rebic did vs Mexico). That’s a bone breaker.

This cup is Argentina’s to lose. They have the easiest draw and have got their poor games out of the way while getting Messi in form. Argentina’s one weakness: their teamwork is far from seamless.

Do you live in Te Atatu?




Now that England are out, who d’you think will win the World Cup?

I don’t care. Ask me again in four years.



Everywhere I go in Brazil, my heart breaks. Down every street. At every bar. At every football stadium.

There is only one thing in this world that has the ability to continually delight and crush a man this much, and it’s not a World Cup.

It’s a woman catching your eye and smiling at you, as she moves breathlessly past.

It’s a universal truth but nowhere else in the universe do the women seem to do it with more beauty, poise and style than they do in Brazil.

Brazilian bodies have curves and figures that make a man go wild with lust and longing; inch by breathless inch. Perhaps it’s the most flavoursome mix of cultures that creates the broad palate of beauty here.

In the south, guys in Sao Paulo told me, is where I would find the most beautiful women in this country, thanks to the mix of German and Italian ancestry with Portuguese, African and native Brazilian roots there. It seems to be holding true.

Around Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the female bodies are often complimented by the gorgeously olive Italian skin and raven hair, or the German blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes.

To sit at a café on Porto Alegre’s Rua General Lima e Silva with a cup of coffee and watch the women go by is a crushingly perfect experience for any man.

Because while the bodies here can hold any male prisoner, it is the rhythm, or rather expression, in the way they walk that really puts the dagger in.

Movements in bodies that seem to smile at you, even if your eyes, and theirs, never meet.

A purposeful rhythm; an effortless sense of expression that continues into conversations.

The Brazilian woman speaks as if she is making love: full of passion, intimacy, and a touch of the wild and unrestrained.

What can I say? What can I do? Well, I’ll have the odd bumbling attempt to capture their attention – but usually I’ll just watch and smile, and feel grateful enough for that.

Charles Bukowski once wrote: “Give me one truly alive woman tonight, walking across the floor toward me – and you can have all the poems.”

I know what you mean, Hank; it’s the same here, mate.

Give me one truly alive Brazilian woman – walking across a bar in Curitiba towards me tonight – and you can have all the volleyed left-footed goals, pin-point crosses and penalty triumphs the Copa do Mundo has got.

What can I say, I’m a romantic. You have to be to make a statement like that at a World Cup as good as this one.


Previously: A Week in Hell with George Best


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