Saturday, June 28, 2014

Brazil Hopes that History would Repeat itself in Belo Horizonte

As the Round of 16 of FIFA World Cup 2014 kicks off at Belo Horizonte, Chile will be facing a tall order to overcome a Brazilian side growing in confidence. In 26 previous clashes in Brazil over the past 95 years, La Roja has never defeated the Selecao. However, with a challenging team at the World Cup this year, they hope to change that record.

Brazil had their moments of despair at the World Cup, especially when the Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa decided to play his magic on the Brazilian side. Despite the draw, Brazil was by far the best attacking team. Their attacking flare took them past both Croatia and Cameroon with relative ease.

Chile on the other hand has played good attacking football in Brazil 2014 tournament. They shocked the defending champions Spain by sending them out of the World Cup after a memorable 2-0 victory. Before that, they had defeated a spirited Australian side in their opening game. However, the defeat at the hands of the Dutch will be in the back of their minds.

Attacking football has been the norm of the tournament in the preliminary round. The Brazil versus Chile encounter will be of not much of a difference.

Past encounters at FIFA World Cup

Brazil and Chile have met three times in earlier editions of FIFA World Cup. The first instance is perhaps the best known game, when Chile hosted the World Cup. The country, rebuilding after a massive earthquake several years ago, surprised almost all football fans by reaching the Semifinal stage. In the quarterfinals, they had beaten the powerful Soviet team. This result surprised even the Chileans.

The original venue of the first semifinal was to be Viña del Mar. However, the Chilean football authorities asked FIFA to interchange the venues of the two semifinals so that Chile could play in front of a larger crowd at Santiago. This angered the Viña del Mar inhabitants and only 6000 people turned up to see Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia meeting for that match. However, a capacity crowd of over 76,000 turned up to see La Rojas play the Brazilians.

The game was only 9 minutes old when Garrincha scored the first goal by a powerful left footer. He added a second in the 32nd minute off a corner. Jorge Toro managed to reduce the advantage in the 42 nd minute through a well aimed free kick and the first half ended at 2-1 Brazil.

In the second half, Vava took up from where Garrincha had left off by restoring the 2 goal advantage just 2 minutes in the second half. Leonel Sanchez scored a penalty to once again reduce the margin but Vava again restored the 2 goal advantage in the 78th minute. In the latter stages the game went nowhere with two players, including the Brazilian star player Garrincha being sent off.

Chile ultimately won the third place of the tournament, their best performance ever at a FIFA World Cup. Brazil won their 2nd consecutive title and carried off the Jules Rimet trophy back home.

The next encounter between the two teams was in the Round of 16 in France, 1998. However, this game in Paris was a one sided clash ending in a 4-1 victory for the Selecao.

In 2010, when they met in Johannesburg, it was once again a Round of 16 Match. This was played on June 28, 2010, exactly four years before the 2014 match. Similar to the 1998 encounter, this match was also won by Brazil with a 3 goal advantage. Brazil scored 3 goals as Juan, Luis Fabiano and Robinho scored. Chile did not trouble the scorers.

The history of the clashes between La Roja and the Selecao does not bode well for the Chileans. The Brazilians will also enjoy the home advantage. It will undoubtedly be a packed crowd at Belo Horizonte. Whether they will be witness to history is still unknown. But the match is almost certain to be a thriller.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Golden Girl

She sat
In the afternoon sun
A golden girl
Gazing at the mountains
Blocking her view

In her imagination
What lay on
The other side

Wondering if someone
Was gazing at her
Thinking of her
From the other side

The mountains
Spoke to her
To imagine

Friday, June 20, 2014

Colombo on Avurudu Day

Sinhala Hindu Avurudda
Traditional New Year
Time to reflect and recharge batteries
Time to return to the roots
Time for unity

Center of attention otherwise
Becomes a ghost town

The hospitals
Are the same
People go here and there
United in feeling
Pain, anguish, helplessness
Written on the faces

Sickness, pain and death
Does not take leave
Even when all others do

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

FIFA 2014: Ochoa's "Miracle of Fortaleza"

Remember Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union, Gordon Banks of England and Oliver Kahn of Germany? Another goalkeeper could also join their ranks, if he is to continue his performance at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza today. He is Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico.

On paper, Brazil were the clear favorites to win the Group A preliminary game of FIFA World Cup 2014 against Mexico. They had never lost to the North American team in a FIFA World Cup game and this year, with Neymar and Co in terrific form, it could have not been different. Well, on paper, no one could predict what Ochoa did.

In general the Brazilian attack was well organized and it threw almost everything it could at the Mexicans. The Mexican defense was equal to the task. The game could have easily ended 2-0 and even 4-0. But it ended 0-0.

In the 27th minute, Ochoa sprang to his right, covering a great distance in saving a sure goal coming from a Neymar header. Images of Banks denying Pele 44 years ago must have flashed through those who have seen it. Just before half time, Ochoa saved another chance. Although Brazil dominated almost the entire first half, the score was 0-0 at half time.

This 27th minute save was the most dramatic of them all (Pic-
Mexico started the second half with a definite ploy. Perhaps lacking the killer punch in their striking force, they started taking long shots at the goal. Almost all went over the crossbar, giving little trouble to Julio Cesar. He was called on to make one real save towards the end of the game, and he made no mistake there.

After about 20 minutes of the second half, Brazil once again took the game to their hands, but their control ended where Guillermo Ochoa was standing. His defense wall backed him up nicely, denying many a chance to the Brazilians. In the 86th minute, Ochoa made another dramatic save off a Thiago Silva header from a Neymar free kick. It was drama in the first degree.

There was no mistake at the disappointment of the Brazilians. They had never failed to score in a preliminary round game in a FIFA World Cup after 1978. In the last three world cup tournaments, they had finished with maximum points in the first round. This game would have been the same if not for Guillermo Ochoa.

However, Ochoa heroics or good defense would not be enough to take Mexico through to the final rounds of the tournament. If their strikers are weak, it will ultimately stop their campaign somewhere along the way.
This writer found out that the wikipedia page on Guillermo Ochoa had been edited

For now though, Mexico can celebrate the miracle at Fortaleza. Guillermo Ochoa, who made it possible, has become a hero. Someone edited his Wikipedia page just after the Brazil game to say that “He is the Mexican Jesus after his performance against Brazil.” Of course, this edit was removed in a few minutes. But Ochoa’s performance will not be forgotten by the Mexicans, as well as the Brazilians, for a long time to come.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Most Venerable Davuldena Gnanissara Thera Condemns Violence

The Mahanayaka of Amarapura Maha Nikaya Most Venerable Davuldena Gnanissara Thera has strongly condemned the damaging of lives and property and called for peaceful coexistence.

The Venerable Thera states that it is vital to resolve any issue that may arise, in an amicable manner.

The statement by Venerable Gnanissara Thera is as follows:

May there be Peace through Buddhist Philosophy
Throughout the last few days, a series of unfortunate incidents have been unfolding in Beruwala, Aluthgama, Dharga Town and the vicinity. As Buddhists, we have lived in this country in peace without racial and religious differences. If there was any incident, it has to be resolved through discussion. Damaging lives and property should not be the method to solve problems. I wish to stress that all communities, Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamils, should live in peace and unity.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Life is a battle
Between faith and fate
Fate attacks
Faith defends

Faith with many facets
In temple, church, kovil
In Dhamma, for what it is
In God
Whether He is there or not

"Attahi Attano Natho"
The Buddha said
You are your own savior
Jesus agreed
“The Kingdom of God is within you”

All faiths support
He who has faith
In himself
No other faith
Will suffice
For he who has no faith