Come on, guys! Give magnificent Maicon credit for a wonder-goal

Brazil 2 North Korea 1

The World Cup started last Friday.

But the football started in the second half at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, when two teams from opposite ends of the planet provided three fantastic goals to warm the crowd on a chilly night.

The Korean Democratic Peoples Republic played a flat back five and defended fiercely and it took an outrageous Maicon shot to break the deadlock in 55 minutes.

Commentator Clive Tyldesley ruined the moment by saying, “Did he mean that?”

Inter Milan right back Maicon is a monster gladiator who had the ball far more than any other player last night. He has scored SEVEN goals for Inter this season and won three trophies.

Because Maicon is so dynamic, Elano can be feeble, as long as he is clinical.

Brazilian full backs have been  scoring outrageous goals like that since 1970 and even before that.

Carlos Alberto, Nelinho and Roberto Carlos all scored spectacular goals that were screened again and again for decades. Brazilian kids grow up watching those on TV and hundreds become pros and the best of the best get to pull on the gold shirt of the selecao and represent a   nation of 180 million people and by then the  elite full back is thinking : I can do that ! I can score a wonder-goal !

After Maicon scored his audacious bender, Elano scored a tidy sidefoot goal from a slide-rule Robinho pass in 72. Coach Dunga then took him off and brought on the combative Dani Alves to help protect a 2-0 lead.

Then the super-fit North Koreans scored the third fantastic goal of the night in 89. A free-kick was nodded down to Ji Yun Nam, the chunky No.8, who zoomed past   Gilberto and between Maicon and Lucio and smashed a left foot shot past Julio Cesar for seven yards.

What a goal ! What enterprise ! What a moment !

North Korea have been training in a public gym because that is all they can afford.

Eight of their team are virtual amateurs. Stocky centre forward Jong Tae-Se, who plays in the J-league, was crying when the national anthem was played : I\’m playing for my country in the Word Cup, this means so much to us !

On the ITV Highlights programme the dopey Gareth Southgate said Maicon\’s shot was a cross !

Andy Townsend disagreed. He said, “An outstanding goal. I firmly believe that he meant it. He\’s that good a player. If that was a cross, it\’s the worst cross he ever made in his life.”

Incredibly, Southgate then bleated about the Ronaldinho free-kick that flew past David Seaman and said, “That was a shank as well.”

While writing thousands of pieces here since 1998, I have rarely mentioned commentators, presenters or pundits.

But sometimes you have to. Sometimes it\’s unavoidable. Gareth Southgate should be talking bollocks in a pub in Croydon, not on my television screen.

My comment on the Ronaldinho free-kick was a similar to Townsend\’s comment last night. In 2002 I said, “If Ronaldinho miskicked that ball, he miskicked it by 15 yards because the players who could have headed his cross were 15 yards from where the ball went as it flew into the far top corner of the goal.”

Perrsonally, I rarely write about TV commentators because I hardly notice them. They don\’t annoy me and I could not do their job. I swear too much.

I\’ve always believed, since the Eighties,  that Martin Tyler is by far the best football commentator. I\’ve met some of the others, mostly at Wembley, often when watching England\’s opponents training there, and sometimes when watching Arsenal\’s opponents training there, and most of them, especially Peter Drury, seem like really nice guys.
Occasionally, in the tunnel at Wembley, I’d speak to Clive Tyldesley as we waited for the managers to come out after a game. He\’s OK, I like the guy.

In August 1985, just after Howard Kendall\’s Everton had won the league for the first time, we were waiting for the managers to come out after the Charity Shield game and I spoke to Clive about Kendall.

I said, “Whatever happens now, he’s won the title and they can\’t take that away from him.”

And Clive said, “I had lunch with Howard on Monday and that\’s exactly what he said.”

Last night I was intensely annoyed when Clive said, “Did he mean that?”

Rob Hughes was there and sent me his report overnight.

Not surprised to learn that Rob was annoyed by the denials too. He wrote:

Then it happened. Brazil\’s right back Maicon, having already had the most aggressive shot of the match saved by goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk, suddenly did something so thrilling, so brilliant, that it seems people decided it must have been a fluke.Nothing about it suggests those curmudgeons are right.

The body language of Maicon before he attempted the shot, the anticipation on his face as he released it off the outside of his right soccer boot, and the celebration he entered almost before it entered the net were all the signs of a gifted sportsman knowing exactly what he is doing.

To deny Maicon full credit for attempting, and pulling off the almost impossible, would be akin to denying that Tiger Woods has the uncanny ability to roll in a 35 foot putt against the odds. Or to deny that Magic Johnson ever had, well, magic in his locker.

Maicon\’s was a magic shot. He saw, as replays clearly showed him to see, Ri come off his line. The goalkeeper never considered that Maicon might attempt a shot from that angle. So the Brazilian tried, and perfected it.

ANR reader adds :


Hey Myles,

Totally agree that Gareth Southgate talks utter rubbish. Generally that’s par for the course with  ITV commentary (except for Jim Beglin, a cult hero).

But the point is, Myles, LEAVE OFF OF CROYDON !!!

We definitely wouldn’t have Gareth Southgate.