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Fear the Kiwis (among other things)

June 15, 2010
By Luke Cyphers
ESPN The Magazine

Three Things We Learned Tuesday

1. Fear the Kiwi!

Slovakia outclassed and outscored New Zealand for 93 minutes, yet the other men from a land down under, supposedly the worst team in the tournament, pulled out a historic 1-1 draw on Winston Reid's injury-time header. Reid not only completed a great statistical oddity -- the first 20 goals of the tournament have been scored by 20 different players -- but also proved there's more to this lovely nation than mutton and Peter Jackson.

2. Didier Drogba is Kirk Gibson. Almost.

The Ivory Coast superstar comes off the bench in the 65th minute, makes a great run into the box in the waning moments, receives a perfect pass and ... hooks it harmlessly left of the goal. Big ups, as the kids said 20 years ago, for playing valiantly with a broken arm.

3. It could be worse. It could be air horns.

A group of rowdy Brazilians in green-and-gold, Yosemite Sam-sized cowboy hats blew off steam ahead of the Brazil-North Korea match by blowing off air horns, or as they're called in Afrikaans, air "hooters" -- terminology which, for some reason, we prefer. Cool name notwithstanding, air hooters make vuvuzelas seem like a calm blue ocean.

Three Things to Watch for Wednesday

1. Youth Day

One of the most important dates on the South African calendar. The nation remembers the 1976 Soweto Uprising, a turning point in the battle to end the country's racist apartheid system.

2. Bafana-rama

The South African national team plays its second match, this one in Tshwane/Pretoria. A win over Uruguay makes Bafana Bafana an almost certain entrant in the second round. And a win on Youth Day would be a great excuse for (yet another) party.

3. Roja Carpet

Tourney favorite Spain (OK, at least our tourney favorite) makes its long-awaited debut against Switzerland. Espana's challenge? To out-beautify the opening matches of surprisingly stylish Germany and not-surprisingly stylish Brazil. Oh, and win the World Cup. No pressure.

Luke Cyphers is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.