The Confederations Cup has so far lived up to it’s billing as the World Cup warm up and has been the perfect tonic for people who can’t wait until next year. We have already seen spectacular goals and some sumptuous displays of technical skill and wizardry from the world’s best players. What we hadn’t seen so far was a standout game that made everyone watching applaud with delight and enjoyment.
Japan met Italy in the group stage with both teams feeling they had enough in their respective lockers to win the game and hopefully progress to the next round. What an absolutely enthralling game these two served up for everyone to admire, and this was the game that lit the touchpaper and really sparked the Confederations Cup into life.
Both teams went for the jugular from the kickoff and served up a visual treat for the eyes with attack after attack, engaging the millions watching at home and across the globe. It was a splendid game of soccer and one that deserved all the praise it got, ending up in a 4-3 victory for Italy.
The one issue that again reared it’s ugly head was that of poor refereeing decisions which made a significant impact on the outcome of the game. I’ve been saying for years that referees need access to some sort of video replay technology, and the stench of refereeing failure once again show that the need is now greater than ever.
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon timed his tackle on Shinji Okazaki perfectly, but thanks to a refereeing clanger, he was deemed guilty of a foul and Japan were awarded an extremely fortunate penalty. The errors didn’t stop there though, and referee Diego Abal continued his appalling form by awarding another ridiculously soft penalty, this time to Italy for another trivial incident.
Japanese captain Makoto Hasebe was penalized for a handball even though the ball bounced up off his leg after a tackle and brushed against his trailing arm. If referees are going to give penalties for incidents such as that, then the soccer games are going to end up finishing 9-7 and both teams will be down to seven men each.
Such poor refereeing usually overshadows a soccer game, and FIFA do need to implement a system to assist referees but in a game of this magnitude. All that really needs to be said is bravo to both teams, and long may it continue.