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Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 20

Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 20

WHAT GREAT LEADERS, POWERFUL MEN AND WOMEN, AND OTHER EXPERTS THINK

Additional reporting by Corey Rosser

LEN BROWN, AUCKLAND MAYOR

Who d’you think will win it?

The Netherlands.

What sort of touchline manager would you be in Brazil – on your feet hollering and expressive, or sitting poker-faced and inscrutable in the dug-out?

Quite verbal and demonstrative.

What hot snacks do you recommend for fans who are getting up at 4am to watch live games?

Whatever you can lay your hands on at that time of the morning.

 

DAVID CUNLIFFE, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY

Who d’you think will win it?

The Netherlands.

What sort of touchline manager would you be in Brazil – on your feet hollering and expressive, or sitting poker-faced and inscrutable in the dug-out?

Hollering and expressive.

What hot snacks do you recommend for fans who are getting up at 4am to watch live games?

Toast and Milo.

 

JAMIE WHYTE, LEADER OF THE ACT PARTY

Who d’you think will win it?

Brazil.

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a libertarian model, which rewards free enterprise?

Football operates much like a normal free market. The teams are competing voluntary associations (like companies) and the results aren’t rigged by the ref (the government). However, there is an important difference: football is a zero sum game, in which there is a loser for every winner. In markets, both parties to a transaction are usually winners.

If Act were a football team, how would you describe its style of play?

Attacking and risky.

 

METIRIA TUREI, CO-LEADER OF THE GREEN PARTY

Who d’you think will win it?

Argentina.

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a libertarian model, which rewards free enterprise?

Definitely a workers’ collective! The best teams co-operate and collaborate to play the beautiful game. A team full of individual stars and heroes that can’t work together will always falter against those with the energy and drive to become greater than the sum of their parts. After all, look what happened to England…

If the Greens were a football team, how would you describe its style of play?

We’d be playing our own version of tiki-taka; patiently but passionately passing the ball around while we tire our opponents out with our creativity and work ethic. And when everyone has played their parts, we’d be ready and waiting to make that final killer pass that wins us the game (unlike the Spanish).

 

WINSTON PETERS, LEADER OF NEW ZEALAND FIRST

Who d’you think will win it?

France.

If the government were a football team, how would you describe its style of play?

Arjen Robben, doing a Hollywood and skewing the game.

 

JOHN KEY, LEADER OF THE NATIONAL PARTY

Who d’you think will win it?

Germany.

 

PAULA BENNETT, MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Who d’you think will win it?

Belgium.

 

JACINDA ARDERN, OPPOSITON SPOKESPERSON FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Who d’you think will win it?

Colombia.

Your colleague Grant Robertson has described some of the South American players as “hot”. Do you agree and can you name names?

I have observed that the players seem to be…well-groomed. Is that why the competition takes a whole month? Grooming time?

If you were in Brazil right now and had the opportunity to attend a game, would you resist out of solidarity with Brazil’s underclass?

I would give my ticket to a Brazilian and sit on a beach.

 

DAVID DOME, GENERAL MANAGER, WELLINGTON PHOENIX

Who d’you think will win it?

Germany.

If Phoenix could swing it, which players over 30 would you most like to sign?

Andrea Pirlo. What a player, cruises the park like a shark circling and then with one touch opens up a defence. A magician.

Xavi. While Spain may have held onto their players just one or two years too long for a World Cup, Xavi would still light up most leagues around the world.

Buffon – or Howard, or Cesar – in goal. Good keepers age like good wine.

Will Phoenix be approaching them to discuss terms?

Ha! Not really our price bracket. We’ve got a couple of places where we’re recruiting, but they won’t be World Cup players.

Which team seems the closest in resources and philosophy to New Zealand?

Costa Rica. The little team that could.

 

RUBEN WIKI, KIWI RUGBY LEAGUE LEGEND

What would you have done if an opponent had bitten you in your playing days?

Knocked him out.

Knocked him out?

Yeah. Knocked him out.

 

BILL RALSTON, WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S HOST OF THE PAUL HENRY SHOW

Who d’you think will win it?

Brazil.

When are we going to have lunch?

Soon.

Friday?

Done.

 

DUNCAN GARNER, RADIO LIVE

Who d’you think will win it?

Colombia.

You enjoy that more oafish code of football. What happened that time you got sent off playing rugby for an incident involving Trevor Mallard?

We were playing a Lower Hutt police team and I saw a cop stand on Mallard’s head and open it up. I pulled the prick off him and whacked him, and got sent off – because Mallard told the ref what I’d done! Appalling loyalty from Mallard.

If you were in Brazil right now would you rather go to a game or a bar?

I’d go to the game – then spend the night in the bar like any GC would.

 

ALEX DE JONG, FORMERLY TV3 AND HOUSE OF FOOTBALL PRESENTER ON SKY, NOW HOT-SHOT TV PRESENTER IN ENGLAND

I’m having an intercontinental World Cup. The first week I watched in Amsterdam, the second in Munich and for the remainder I’m in New York and Boston. I’ve been lucky enough to go to the last three World Cups and two finals, but since I couldn’t weasel a way to Brazil I at least wanted to watch the games at a reasonable hour.

Since I was six years old, every World Cup experience has been utterly coloured by the performance of one nation – Holland. In reality this has meant supporting a team that, while quite often good enough to win the World Cup… never bloody does. Every elimination has hurt… but it hurts most when you slip at the final hurdle, as I’ve seen Holland do, three times.

In 1974 my family huddled round the TV (my dad was at the game) and watched Johan Cruyff’s brilliant team of total footballers score before their opponents had touched the ball, relax, and hand the title to West Germany.

In the 1978 final… Rob Rensenbrink slid the ball past the Argentinian keeper Fillol to win the match in injury time… except it hit the post. The hosts won in extra time.

In 2010 I was in the stadium in Johannesburg to witness Arjen Robben butcher a late one-on-one against Iker Casillas that could well have given us the title. We lost in extra time. (Admittedly we didn’t deserve to win that one… but still).

By my conservative estimate, Holland should have won the World Cup seven times by now, although I may be biased. To be honest, I just want to win it once.

As for this year, I know Holland will win. But they won’t.

 

LEE BAKER, ALTERNATIVE CRICKET COMMENTARY GUY

Whereabouts have you been watching?

I saw Italy v England at my Italian friend’s house. Their inevitable victory over England was followed by a traditional Italian luncheon. I find it’s always best to watch these games with heavily vested citizens of the respective competing nations.

Football is a more skilful game than cricket. Discuss.

Cricket is so skilful you hardly notice the tremendous skills on display except for a few obvious big moments. Football is more of a show pony. Each sport can be desperately boring for long stretches of stalemate – but therein lies the drama.

Did you see a team of misfits and chumps who your heart went out to?

I saw exactly such a team. It’s the same team I see every World Cup and every major competition: poor old England. The tragedy of ’66 was that it gave the English false hope. I’m afraid my heart no longer goes out to them.

 

BEN STANLEY, SPORTSWRITER, LIVE FROM RIO DE JANEIRO

Like any great holy place, they come to practice spirituality. In their tens of thousands, they came; each one of them converts.

They came to try and understand the meaning of sacrifice. To study grace, and learn what really makes their hearts beat.

Along with everyone else in the crowd of 73,803 at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro last Saturday night, I came to experience a holy experience, too.

The Maracana, named after a river that flows into Rio’s Guanabara Bay, lies at the very root of what is to be Brazilian.

Crowds hum excitedly entering the stadium. Gasps are heard as seats are taken. This is the place, after all, where the infamous Maracanzo took place.

Where Uruguayan striker Ghiggia knocked his late goal past Brazilian keeper Barbosa, meaning the hosts – the kings of wild, joyful football – would lose the 1950 World Cup final on home soil.

Barbosa was blamed for the defeat and you feel that his ghost still haunts the Maracana.

Another ghost haunted last Saturday night’s game between Uruguay and Colombia. Part magician, part monster, the name of Luis Suarez was carried in every conversation and chant, and his face was replicated on banners and masks throughout the Maracana.

He was everywhere you looked – until Colombia winger James Rodriguez sunk his peach of a goal.

Want a religious experience at a sporting cathedral? A sign the football gods are smiling on this World Cup? Rodriguez’s strike was perhaps the goal of the tournament so far.

The exceedingly fit Colombians ran Uruguay ragged – and present an Everest-like obstacle for Brazil.

But if Brazil do get past Colombia, and then beat either Germany or France in the semi-final, they will secure a visit to Maracana on July 14.

A visit to the national cathedral, and a chance to gain immortality.

 

OTIS FRIZZELL, THE LUCKY TACO

When games go to extra-time in the stifling heat of Brazil, a lot of players are seen eating bananas. Do you endorse this?

Bananas? An iced horchata would be a better idea. It’s cinnamon-infused, sweetened rice milk. Pretty much the most refreshing drink I’ve ever had. It sure helped us through the stifling heat in Mexico.

 

DON BRASH

Who d’you think will win it?

Steve, unfortunately I’m the wrong guy to ask! I don’t have any informed idea.

But when I’m in a strange hotel somewhere with nothing better to do, I’ll tune in to a TV channel to watch a football game for a while – the game requires extraordinary skill and is a delight to watch. Because the positions are similar to hockey (which I played at school), I also understand it better than most other sports.

 

SIR ROBERT JONES

How wonderful it would be if one of the finalists were Costa Rica or Colombia. The whole world would tune in to cheer on the underdog.

 

GUY WILLIAMS, LIGHT ENTERTAINER

Who d’you think will win it?

Colombia! Those poor bastards deserve something good to happen for once in their lives!

If you were at a game in Brazil, would you watch the teams or the crowd?

If there’s one thing I learnt from the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand is that the ticket prices to these things are so high that the real fans can’t afford to go to the games! I would keep my eyes fixed on the soccer and as far away from the Fifa atrocities in Brazil as possible!

Are you good with your feet?

No! I hate feet! I don’t even call it football! I call it soccer because I hate feet so much and also because I really enjoy aggravating soccer fans!

 

BEVAN CHUANG, “TYPICAL ASIAN GIRL”

Are you good with your feet?

Never. Just a typical Asian girl who isn’t very good with sports. But I grew up watching football and supporting the English team (until they lose).

If you were at a game in Brazil and the camera picked you out, would you jump up and down?

YES!

Who is the best looking player at the World Cup?

Many would go for Cristiano Ronaldo (especially after that Vogue Espana cover with his model girlfriend) but Olivier Giroud from France is awesome!

Actually there are too many to pick.

 

JOHN CAMPBELL, CAMPBELL LIVE

Who d’you think will win it?

Spain. Are they still in it? I love paella.

And in 1987, I went to Barcelona. What a town that is. Or was. Who knows how it’s going these days?

But it delights me to think that some of the new-born babies proudly being pushed along La Rambla 27 years ago may be kicking their country to victory right now. Viva la Espana!

Are you alright?

I went to a game of football once. Stop Out, I think the team was called. Great name. I vaguely recall it was at the Hutt Rec. Are any of those guys involved?

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