Pride in Defeat

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"It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees" - Práxedis Guerrero

Victory is not everything.

Sometimes, even in defeat, your pride swell and you realize that what you really care about is fighting spirit and good football.

Today, Flamenguistas across the world are waking up with their swollen by the result of 2×2 against Ceara that eliminated us in the quarter-finals of the Copa do Brasil. Yet we hold those swollen head high. Flamengo, after all, played as Flamengo, finally.

Having lost the first leg at home for 1X2, Flamengo went to the Northeast with a mission of winning 2×0 or a simple victory after 3×2. In 30 min, we were winning 2×0, two goals by the master Thiago Neves.

But then, as most teams still do in this boring age of football of results, we tried to just let the clock run. Ceara, needing to score now, started to attack and we gave them the midfield. In a corner kick, our defense just watched as their striker headed a ball in the net. Then our veteran defender Ronaldo Angelim, got two yellow cards committing two stupid fouls, and we were a man down. To make it worse, again our defense slept, and their striker, again, tied the match. All that in the first half.

On the second half, one man down, Flamengo still dominated the game, but exhaustion started to creep and we dragged ourselves, bloodied and battered, to try for the one saving goal that would put us in the semifinals. It almost came, but twice the post saved them.

In the end, the score  reflected the reality of the match – those that played well and searched victory saw the tie as a defeat, those that defended and hoped not to lose saw it as victory.

Never Surrender

We, however, still have our pride even in defeat.

May the National Tournament begin!

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Campeonato Carioca Round 4 – Redemption Comes in Small Doses

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Some people must be born twice.

Some find that second birth in Christ or some other ethereal figure, some otherworldly experience of fire or water. But some of us need something concrete, something tangible that we can sink our teeth in.

For Thiago Neves, it was the Flamengo jersey.

Sure, he was a star player for Fluminense a few years back, and was even thought as a possible National Squad player. But he was despised by a Nation, a Red and Black Nation, and a player like that will have an unfortunately incomplete life if he has never worn the magnificent colors of Flamengo. So after going to the Middle East to make boatloads of money, he came back and joined the light side of the Force. And in his second game, did a goal so magical, so beautiful that much of the old rancor and distrust was shed away from the minds of millions of flamenguistas in an instant.

The game was again our ex-rival Vasco, a team battered by three losses in a row against teams significantly inferior in resources both financial and of skill. The coach had just been fired and two players were suspended (for sucking so bad). A shadow of the team that was fun to beat – now it’s almost sad.

Almost.

Flamengo played a decent first half, which looked a lot better because Vasco was practically not in the pitch. The Scarlet&Black squad danced around what passed for a defense for the other team, but without incisiveness, without bringing heat. But the superiority of Flamengo was so that even without really trying the opportunity came knocking with a pass by Thiago to Leo Moura. Our winger and Captain kicked the ball violently, as if just aiming at the general direction of the goal, but Deivid, finally in the right place at the right time, pushed the ball into Vasco net.

They crumbled.

Then with a touch of geniality, Renato sees Thiago ready to jet and taps the ball gently over Vasco’s discombobulated defense. Thiago bolts, the ball firmly in his possession as the baffled defenders just look at him. Vasco’s goalie Fernando Prass ran desperately at Thiago, only to be humiliated by Thiago tapping the ball over his head and push it nto the net with his thigh. Flamengo 2-nil, and Vasco destroyed – end of the first half. The TV camera showed the Vasco fans, many of them leaving the game right then, heartbroken.

But we got complacent, believing that the third goal was right around the corner. We would try always one extra dribble, got negligent with the passing and by sheer desperation, Vasco grew on the game. At 30min. of the second half (75min. for the americans), they scored, and some of the their belief returned, and for fifteen, nay, twenty, for the ref gave another five frikkin minutes, the game got tense and open, with Vasco charging and Flamengo counter-attacking. When it was over, Flamengo coach allegedly berated his players in the locker room.

He was right. This game should have easier.

Revolutionaries in Social Movements Speaking Events

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...soon, soon, near you!

I have been working too much and Flamengo has been playing like shit, so I have not have time or inspiration to come back to this blog. Hopefully that will change soon.

However, for now, here is the audio of two events I spoke at in Southern California, one in San Diego and the other one is Riverside. Many thanks to SoCal Workers Solidarity Alliance for helping put these events together, and for the comradeship and company. Hope to see y’all soon again.

Click on the links

San Diego

Riverside

We had another event in Los Angeles, but the recording is trapped by my lack of computer skills.

 

Renewal

Brazil is back.

It has been hiding behind the “practical” football of Dunga, the football ugliness and fear. The game of beauty and courage is back, and thank you very much Mano Menezes. The courage to pick an offensive Brazil, with a light, fast midfield, with players that love the dribble and the play, without a single brute to “destroy” – for that we thank you, Mano.

After the Dutch debacle, I was asked if I was sad about the loss, I realized I really, deep inside, wasn’t. Because the Brazil of Dunga was a thing of ungainly pedantism, a fordist ideology for football, destroying the little skill available in the pitch on the altar of victory at any cost. So that the idol is dead and buried is something for rejoicing.

The new Brazil debuted against the World Cup faux-sensation, the U.S.A. in the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey. Brazil was nervous and made us nervous at moments for lacking the truculence in the defense characteristic of the Dunga era. But it brought delight with its dribbling, the passes and the “always forward” attitude. Ganso is a deserving wearer of the 10 once worn by Pele and by the greatest of all, Zico. Neymar brought back memories of great lighting fast player like Bebeto and Dada Maravilha. The dazzling dribble he does in the 15 min of the second half for example is an example what we want from Brazil, nothing but the beautiful game.

Joga Bonito!

P.s.: To the commentator from Univision, fuck off for talking about Kaka and others of his ilk as “reinforcements” for Brazil.

SOUTH AFRICA 2010 – France 0x0 Uruguay

zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. ahn, oh zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz half-time. Bathroom break. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Henry! oh zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz “El Loco” Abreu! oh zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Red Card. zzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz the end.

SOUTH AFRICA 2010 – South Africa 1×1 Mexico

First Half

Mexico had the experience, and in the first 15 minutes that was made obvious. Opening the World Cup at home weighted heavily in the Bafana Bafana, and they were completly lost against Mexico’s passing and the ability of Giovanni dos Santos. The Mexican squad made Khune the best South African in the pitch. The nervousness of the South African just didn’t ruin the game for them because Mexico was not an objective team, and Franco was very keen on missing goals. When they finally put one in the net, it was (correctly) anuled for being offsides.

South Africa slowly regained its cool, and the game got a little more balanced, but Mexico was still superior, with almost 70% ball possession. Still, the game was technically poor and not very exciting in the first half.

Second Half

South Africa came back changed. They were more intelligent when they had the ball, more consistent when they were on defense. They imposed a more African style to the game, with long passes and fast counter-attacks. And when Tshabalala received a long ball in from Mphela, he fulminated Jabulani into the net of Perez.

That’s when the World Cup started.

South Africa finally woke up, and Giovanni dos Santos also brought the North Americans back into the game. Mphela had another great chance, with a ball kicked by goalie Khune and battle it out on the Mexican box to send Jabulani hard at the post. The ref, however, should have called a penalty because the Mexican defense just trounced poor Mphela.

Parreira, this enemy of football, loves defense but the defense is the weak point of any African team. What any smart coach should have done is go for the kill, but a Parreira team will never go for the kill. And, although Mexico was an absolutely uninspiring squad, they had more quality than the Africans (including everybody grandpas Cuauhtémoc Blanco)  and were able to score an equalizer due to a defensive failure of the South Africans.

One-one, and the World Cup is underway.

Dunga the Bureaucrat, and the Brazilian World Cup Squad

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Julio César (Inter Milan), Gomes (Tottenham), Doni (Roma)Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Michel Bastos (Lyon), Gilberto (Cruzeiro) Lúcio (Inter Milan), Juan (Roma), Luisão (Benfica), Thiago Silva (Milan) Felipe Melo (Juventus), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Elano (Galatasaray), Kaká (Real Madrid), Julio Baptista (Roma),Ramires (Benfica), Kleberson (Flamengo), Josué (Wolfsburg), Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Nilmar (Villarreal), Grafite (Wolfsburg), Robinho (Santos), Dunga (Bureaucratic Hellscape)

Yeah. We may win, but will definitively not deserve it. Just compare from the midfield forward to Argentina or Spain, and you will understand what I’m talking about.