Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Best of 2006 (by John)

Hi There Everyone,

Let me introduce myself, I’m John from Malaysia and I'm a huge Argentina supporter. My support and love for Argentina goes all the way back to 1986 (I was only 6 years old then) when the World Cup was held in Mexico. It was then when my uncle told me to sit down and watch this amazing player that he wanted to introduce to me. That player was non-other than Diego MARADONA and the rest as you can see is all history.

Ever since those early days I always had this feeling being attached to Argentina, not just in terms of football but also the people and their culture as well, though throughout my whole life I grew up in Malaysia.

This year, it is exactly 20 years since I fell in love with them (also the last time we lifted the Cup Of Life) and between these years we had some good times and some bad times as well. We did win Copa America’s and gold in the Olympics, and of course how can we forget our nightmare in 2002. Despite of all this, there is no way that I’m going to turn my back on my beloved Albicelestes and never will.

Like some of you out there I too had some personal ups and downs but when it comes to watching Argentina play, I sometimes tend forget everything that goes around me because at that moment there is nothing more beautiful then that. In fact the disappointment 2002 made my feelings grew even stronger than ever and it was then that I started to follow Argentines in other sports.

I will never forget those great moments such as Gaston GAUDIO lifting the Roland Garros trophy, Martin GRAMATICA winning the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bays Buccaneers and of course our Tall Guys triumph in Athens 2004. In fact I did skip a couple days of work (I hope my boss is not reading this …hahaha) back in 2003, just to see Manu GINOBILI in action for San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals against New Jersey Nets.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to reveal to all of you on the best of Argentina for 2006. As you all know this year has been a real sporting extravaganza starting with the Winter Olympics in Turin right up to Asian Games in Doha and between of course is the biggest of them all, the World Cup in Germany. So I figured, why don't we take look on how Argentina fared in these various events and come up with a Top 10, to see who is the best. The following list is my personal choice from 10 to 1 on the best of Argentina in 2006.

10. Volleyball (Men)

There was a close battle between these guys and our men’s hockey team. But in the end I guess the fact that our volley boys, led by Marcos MILINKOVIC who managed to progress further despite suffering defeats in opening two games does mean something. Like our men’s hockey team, it is unlikely that we’ll be world beaters in this game but hey isn’t that what people use to say about our basketball team 10 years ago?

9. Beach Soccer Team

Once again, here we have a team that no one had any expectation on them but they managed to defy all the odds. Like their futsal counterparts it is great to know the improvement that our beach boys have made. After topping our group sensationally, it is unfortunate that we had to meet our bogey team Uruguay once again. If not, who knows how far we would’ve gone? The only thing I wished this time that we could have a better finish. I’m not talking about the result here. What I meant instead was those incidents after the game.

8. Basketball (Women)

Vamos the Tall Ladies!!! They surprised everyone in their Preliminary round matches after pushing Brazil to the limit, upsetting Spain and defeating South Korea and went on to finish 9th overall standings. There seems to be a sign of great things to come for them. What I’m looking forward right now is to see the likes of Natalia Romina RIOS and Gisela Veronica VEGA making a move to the WNBA. Perhaps after that, their fortune might change just like the men’s team.

7. Golf

For once it was not the Tiger but an Angel that got my attention to this sports. Angel CABRERA together with Andres ROMERO were leading by 3 strokes going into the 2nd day of the recent World Cup of Golf in Barbados. At one point I was thinking this could be the moment. Nope. Going into the 3rd and 4th day, probably due to some bad luck, we ended up in fifth. Better luck next time.

6. Hockey (Women)

The most successful women’s team in Argentina and so guys, please take a back seat. Despite failing to defend the title that we won 4 years ago, Los Leonas manage to finish third behind a much better Netherlands and Australia. However we did not left empty handed as Carla REBECCHI won the Young Player of the Tournament Award. And in Luciana “La Maga” AYMAR, we have probably the best women to be compared to someone by the name of Diego MARADONA.

5. Football (Men)

Surprise? Shocked? Well not me but I’m prepared to accept any criticism from you guys for doing this to our beloved Albicelestes and place them in this ranking's 5th place. Yes I do agree with some of you that we were the best team in the quarterfinals and we did not deserve to go out early. Yes I do agree that we were good enough to win the World Cup. Yes I do agree that our recent bad results were just friendly internationals. But as of 2006, the football players will just have to settle at number five.

4. Basketball (Men)

No doubt we came close to beat Spain in the semis and if we did, I’m sure the Tall Guys were good enough to go all the way. But I must admit we lost to a better team. However our performance throughout tournament has ensured that we are a top basketball team in the world and our achievement for the past 4 years speaks for itself. Can’t wait for Beijing 2008 but in the meantime good luck to Manu, Chapu, Fabricio, Delfino and Walter. Give us another NBA Championship ring.

3. Tennis

I knew from the beginning itself that we had a mountain to climb against Russia. Playing on their own turf was bad enough but worst was these guys had to play against them on hard court. What surprises me was the way they played despite of all the other factors. They fought hard and were like warriors who battled until the very end and for this how can I be disappointed with our Racket Kings. NALBANDIAN & Co. we are proud of you.

2. Rugby

Once again I had tough time deciding between these guys and our tennis team. However I felt in the end, that Los Pumas had much more edge from what they’ve achieve this year. Well let see, we beat Northern Hemisphere Six Nation teams such as Wales (twice if I’m not mistaken), Italy and of course our historic win over England at Twickenham. Furthermore we lost to the All Blacks and France by minimal margin. And with results like this, Captain PICHOT and his team will go into next years Rugby World Cup full of confidence. But for now, bring on the Six Nation and let Argentina play there!!!!

1. Blind Futsal Team

Who would have thought of this? It was the same time when I receive the news that we lost the Davis Cup final, I was just asking myself when are we going to be World Champions? When is the day that we would have the opportunity to jump with joy and celebrate?

Suddenly on CNN news that came out stated that Argentina have just won the IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) Futsal World Championship. After all the disappointment that we went through, it was The Bats, as they are known, that brought us the joy that we were looking for. It was a fierce contested final in which we beat non other than Brazil by 1-0 (no doubt we won but in the name of sportsmanship there are no losers in this final). The final, which was played in the CENARD center in front of a 2,500 spectators which also includes household names from Argentina sporting and political personalities, not to mention an impressive number of reporters from the national and international media. Silvio VELO who wears the No.5 jersey, widely regarded as the best player in the world game, scored the winning goal. He eluded two defenders before chipping over the onrushing FABIO in the Brazilian goal to spark wild celebrations among the home crowd.

"I couldn't ask for any more," said a jubilant VELO afterwards. "We were playing in front of our own fans, we won and I got the winning goal. But as I always say, what matters most is that Argentina won. It was also important for us to retain our title and not disappoint the supporters and attending media who came to watch us."

Gonzalo VILARINO, the team’s coach said “What we've all experienced throughout this tournament, and especially on the final day, is totally unprecedented. Never before has a tournament for the blind been played out in such a spectacular setting. Why, even the stadium felt small! These lads deserved to win like this, and I think that they've carved out a niche for themselves in society. There's no doubt that they'll get greater and greater recognition for their efforts."

Yes its true, these guys deserves the recognition. However, it is very unfortunate that they will never get the chance to see how the likes of DIEGO, KUN or MESSI dazzling on the pitch. But that is the beauty because as these guys stand right on top of the world of their own, it is us and the rest that I’ve mentioned from No.10 – 2 will have to take a back seat, LOOK and BOW down to them. I personally hope that their triumph will serve as a great example for the rest.

So to Silvio VELO & Co, you guys are my best team of 2006. On behalf of all the Albicelestes supporters worldwide, WE SALUTE YOU!!! VAMOS MURCIELAGOS!!!

So there you have it, my personal choice on the Best of Argentina for 2006. I’m not sure whether the rest of you are going to agree with me on this, but I would really love to hear your comments.

Frankly speaking, this blog is definitely the best discovery for me in 2006 as finally me and my buddies here in Malaysia, feel that we are not alone. Through this blog we have been able to discuss on various types of issues. No doubt that at times we had our differences but in the end we were all passionate about the same thing.

For this Seba, special thanks goes to you for kick-starting this blog. Thanks again for the opportunity to write this article as well. It is truly majestic in your own words that we are “ONE TEAM, MANY NATION”. And most important of all through this blog, I had the honour of meeting new friends such as Subh, Ingi, Linda, Argentinafan, Johnny, Joey (where are you?), Andaman and everyone else (Sorry in case I forgot anyone, there were too many names to remember). And last but not least…




Seba said...

Gracias John! Thank YOU for this wonderful article and the way you share with us your incredible passion for Argentina.

It was a real joy to read your comments and remember every moment that all of this 10 national teams gave us during this very busy 2006.

It's not everyday that you get to meet such a fantastic Argentina supporter from a distant place like Malaysia.

You make it look like you're from Cordoba, Mar del Plata, Santa Fé, Buenos Aires or any Argentine city, believe me!

So thank you very much and sorry it took so long for me to post it.

At the same time I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the readers of this blog for being with me all of this time and here's to a wonderful 2007 with at least a Copa America, a Youth World Cup and maybe the gold medal in the PanAm Games (beating Brazil at the Maracana wouldn't be too bad!) but first the South American U20 tournament in Paraguay in January.

That tournament will not only give four teams their tickets for the next Youth World Cup (Canada 2007), but now it will also give the first two placed teams an automatic spot in the Olympics Beijing 2008.


Anonymous said...

Malaysia Boleh!

alwin said...


Good Job mate, great article, two thumbs and 2 toes up. Have been living with bad internet for the past few days due to the earthquake in Taiwan.


john said...

Hi There Everyone,

To Seba and Alwin thank you guys a lot! Glad that you did enjoy the article. At the beginning I was a bit pessimist about doing this but with your encouragement it all became possible. Gracias my friends.

Of course as we say goodbye to 2006 with full of bittersweet memory, 2007 will also be another year that has full of challenges ahead. Lets hope this time there will be more success to come.

Last but not least, to all Albicelestes supporters, wish you all a very Happy New Year 2007



Anonymous said...

Great article John! I agree with your sentiments about next year being a new challenge. Have a lovely new year everyone!

Vamos Argentina y Feliz Año Nuevo para todos!


andaman said...

Happy New Year 2007 to All Abicelestes supporters!!!

I like your list John. Great read.


Anonymous said...

Hi,i am ganesh from Malaysia,john's buddy..great review ,my fren..bottoms up to u...vamos argentina..el dios maradona

Anonymous said...

dear john,

great review and i can feel the aura of a prominent argentinean comment..keep up the good work..vamos argentina,el dios maradona


alwin said...

Hi Guys,

I read in Eurosport news that Didier DESCHAMPS is very interested in Signing Gabriel HEINZE for Juventus. Alex FERGUSON was interested in signing a young English Left sided player from Southampton called Gareth BALE. He is said to be on par with Ashley COLE and with Patrice EVRA already establishing his place in the 1st team...i think it could be end of Gaby's Man Utd reign. He has been a stalwart for the red devils and always gave his all, it will be sad for me to see him leaving if it ever happens.

Vamos Argentina,

Anonymous said...

Alwin, I personally doubt that Heinze is going anyway. Despite the fact that Evra is currently being favoured Heinze is still a very valuable player and Sir Alex Ferguson will refuse to part with him. It would be supremely stupid to sell him so I don't think he will do it.

We haven't mentioned the U20 Men's NT at all. They are playing in the Qualifiers for the 2007 U20 World Cup in Paraguay. They are Group B along with Ecuador, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Colombia. They tied their first game with Ecuador and are playing tonight against Colombia.


alwin said...

Hi argentinafan,

Hope you are doing great.

I hope to think so too that he will not be leaving. FERGUSON used to start HEINZE when he play stronger opponents because Gaby's defensive qualities are much better than EVRA's. EVRA tends to move up more often than ever and FERGUSON likes to utilise this when he plays weaker opponents. All in, Gaby is still a much complete package to me and i hope he stays on. After all, he was their Player of the Season in his first season at the club.

As for the U-20's, Good Luck to them and keep the young argentinien spirit burning as we always have a non-stop conveyor belt of talent.

A BIG Vamos to the Young Guns,


ArgToWin said...

Hi John,

I am from Singapore and quite like you supports every game Argentina plays...since 1990.

Today, I watch any soccer team that has an Argie player..

I am looking forward to 2010 .. Messi, Aguero, and coy

Seba said...

Hi there!

For a change, I've been REALLY busy lately.

I want to write something about Argentina U20 playing in Paraguay because it is such an important tournament that qualify four teams for the U20 World Cup 2007 in Canada and two for the Beijing 2008 Olympics!

We started with two negative results. A 1-1 draw with Ecuador and now a 2-1 defeat against a magnificient Colombia.

We were leading in both matches but failed to take home the 3 points.

Now we are trailing Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay in Group B and we really need to win the next couple of games (against Venezuela and Uruguay) if we want to progress.

The group's first three placed teams will advance to the next round and then the six teams will play against each other with the best two overall advancing to the Olympics.

It's going to be very very hard but we still have a chance.

Will try and keep you posted.

alwin said...

Hi Seba and all,

Thank you for the update on the U-20's. I really hope they can bounce back, and qualify as the Olympics is at stake as well, we would need to be there to defend our medal. By the way, Is Emmiliano Insua the leftback who i think signed for Liverpool recently included in the Squad?


Anonymous said...

So sad about the loss to Colombia. I agree that it's hard but we can still pull through. Does anyone know how the Uruguayan team is doing? I've heard that the Venezuelan team is good this year but I know nothing about the Uruguay team.
On a positive note, both Gago and Higuain started and played the whole game against Betis (with Real Madrid). Both played really well with Gago standing out as probably the best player for Real. He commanded the midfield really well. Higuain combined well with Ruud but unfortunately did not score though he had chances.

Alwin, I agree with you about Heinze and how he is better for physical games than Evra, especially since Evra is so slight and doesn't have the steel that Heinze has. While I agree that Heinze is a better overall player I see how Ferguson likes that Evra pushes foward, which is something that Heinze isn't naturally comfortable doing (probably because he is more of a natural CB). Anyway, I think the competition between the two players for a starting spot is helping Heinze. A little competition is always healthy and I expect to see him play a lot more when Champions League starts again.


Anonymous said...

One more thing:
One thing that was heartening about the game last night was that Sergio Romero was brilliant (nice to know we have another option for keeper in 2010) and Maxi Morales was a really good numero 10 and Colombia only scored when he was substituted out and our attack diminished (not to take away from the Colombians who did play better overall unfortunately).


Anonymous said...

6-0!!! Yay!! What a recovery! Vamos Argentina. Now we just have to beat Uruguay. Venezuela played so dirty though, 3 players were sent off in the second half.


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