Follow the 2010 World Cup with the men's and women's UCSB soccer programs all tournament long on UCSBgauchos.com. "South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming" will provide daily commentary on the day's biggest storylines, featuring video interviews with Gaucho soccer players and men's head coach, Tim Vom Steeg.
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Finally it is here.
After two years of qualifying, the world's 32 best soccer teams have converged on the southern-most tip of Africa, poised for a month-long World Cup competition already dripping with drama. The event, which culminates every four years in a carefully selected host country, promises to reenergize the nations who win, while bringing those who lose to their knees.
Ronaldo, winner of the 2002 Golden Boot (most goals in a single World Cup) and holder of a record 15 World Cup goals, once commented: "It's like you are representing your country on the battlefield in war. Except in this instance, there are millions of people around the globe watching you."
No one knows this more than Bafana Bafana, or "the boys, the boys," as the South Africans affectionately refer to their national team. All of South Africa has been anticipating the moment when they'll welcome millions to their land and raise not only their country- but also their continent- onto the global stage. The pride that comes with hosting the Cup manifests itself on the pitch; no host country has ever failed to advance to the second round.
The world will be watching. In Honduras, the government has approved a work schedule that allows 200,000 public employees time off the job to watch Los Catrachos in South Africa- for all three of their matches in Group H.
UC Santa Barbara midfielder Waid Ibrahim, a native of Jasikan, Ghana, knows this phenomenon well. "When Ghana plays in the World Cup it is declared a national holiday," said Ibrahim, "The streets are closed and everyone is in the streets celebrating."
On Friday morning, the celebration officially begins.
Will the ever-eclectic Diego Maradona, the most famous player in Argentinean soccer lore and now the manager of Argentina's senior squad, help or hinder his team's chances as he prowls the sidelines in Johannesburg? Is Didier Drogba going to play with a broken arm and carry the Ivory Coast out of the "Group of Death?" Will this be the World Cup where the United States finally finds its identity?
As the world's best teams prepare for their competition on the world's biggest stage, UCSB head men's coach Tim Vom Steeg has his team preparing for its campaign towards the 2010 College Cup, being hosted by UCSB on Dec. 10-12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. Season tickets start at just $75 and include one ticket to all home men and women's regular season games and one College Cup All Session ticket. UCSB staff and faculty can purchase their season tickets for a reduced rate of $50.
On Friday morning, Vom Steeg weighs in on the South Africa-Mexico match. The following day, we will visit with men's assistant coach, Stuart Dobson, an England native, on England's match-up with the United States.
The Cup is coming. Are you ready?