Beginner’s Art – Portrait Drawing

I made first attempt at portrait drawing yesterday and made a sketch of my two year old nephew. Check it out here.

 

Today was my second attempt and made a portrait of my younger brother Hassan Abbas.

 

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Beginner’s Art – A first attempt at portrait drawing

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.”

– Ludwig van Beethoven

So I am continuing my practice and trying to improve at drawing. Today I made a first attempt at making portrait drawing. Here is the drawing of my 2 year old nephew.

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There is still lot of room to improve but I guess I am improving gradually.

Are Pakistan and Israel Similar Ideological States?

The Israeli onslaught on Gaza enters its third week; more and more evidence of atrocities is being made public, producing widespread expressions of outrage around the world. There have been numerous protests around the world against the war crimes being committed by Israel whereas political leadership of the world, Muslim in particular, remains in slumber. The deaths hike the total Palestinian toll to 583 since the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in a bid to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza.

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During this period I have been engaged in several debates on different perspectives surrounding the Palestine – Israel conflict. One of these perspectives has been ‘drawing parallels on the similarity between Pakistan and Israel’. After engaging in debates with many, I thought it would be better to put down my arguments in writing.

Pakistan is like Israel in that both countries were formed on the basis of religion as a result of partition of the countries that already existed and caused large population displacements – it is a very common argument put forward when comparing Pakistan with Israel. Also this remark of ex-ruler of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq is commonly referred to support this argument:

“Pakistan is like Israel, an ideological state. Take out the Judaism from Israel and it will fall like a house of cards. Take Islam out of Pakistan and make it a secular state; it would collapse.”

–       The Economist, December 1981

The above statements might have a slight degree of validity but are sweeping factual statements without giving regard to factors and facts underlying beneath these statements. If we dig in to unearth those facts, striking contrasts between two states are unveiled.

To start with, the demand of Pakistan as a separate homeland was limited to the geographical location of South Asia. The ‘Two Nation Theory’ which is commonly argued as basis for the creation of Pakistan never claimed that Muslims all around the globe were a one nation. Rather the theory is based on the premise that Indian Muslims were a separate nation on the basis of language, traditions, culture, etc. The theory being theological in nature and making a case for of religion as basis of Pakistan’s creation is a flawed argument and is a separate debate. However, the emphasis is that demand for Pakistan was a separate state for Muslims already living here.

Now if we compare this to Israel, there is stark contrast. The basic premise of the Zionist movement, founded by Theodor Herzl, highlights the difference clearly. Zionism is the founding ideology of the land of Israel. Zionism’s basic premise is that Jews irrespective of their geographic location, ethnic identity or socioeconomic background constitute a nation and thus deserve a national homeland – territory defined as the Land of Israel. Therefore Israel was a demand for all Jews everywhere in the world.

The Lahore resolution passed in 1940 called for sovereign states in the Muslim majority areas of India – areas that were going to become Pakistan was already populated by Muslims. In comparison as per the basic premise of Zionism, their homeland is to be situated in the Biblical land of Israel.  Whether that land is populated by someone else is a non-issue — a land without people for a people without land.

If we look at the historical geography of the current territory of Pakistan, (West Pakistan before separation of East Pakistan), it has always been a distinct, unique territory with regions being always bound together by mighty ‘Indus River’. As Aitzaz Ahsan explains in his book ‘The Indus Saga’:

“Indus (Pakistan) has a rich and glorious cultural heritage of its own. This is a distinct heritage, of a distinct and separate nation. There is, thus no fear of any other country devouring or destroying the state. During the last 6000 years Indus has, indeed, remained independent of and separate from India for almost five and a half thousand years. Only the three ‘Universal States’, those of the Mauryans, the Mughals, and the British, welded these two regions together in single empires. And aggregate period of these ‘Universal States’ was not more than five hundred years.

For the remainder, from prehistory to the nineteenth century, Indus has been Pakistan. 1947 was only a reassertion of that reality. It was the reuniting of the various units, the Frontier, the Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Kashmir once again in a primordial federation. The mohajirs, who reverted to the Indus in 1947 and thereafter, were the sons and daughters returning to the mother. As such, ‘Pakistan’ preceded even the advent of Islam in the subcontinent. It was not merely ‘a chasm that one people created for themselves in the ten short years from 1937 to 1947’, as some Indians may like to believe.”

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Source: ‘Indus Saga’ by Aitezaz Ahsan

Source: 'Indus Saga' by Aitezaz Ahsan

Source: ‘Indus Saga’ by Aitezaz Ahsan

In contrast, as explained above, Herzl called for an establishment of a home/state for the Jewish people in Palestine, to be called Israel. In World War I, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany. As a result, it was embroiled in a conflict with Great Britain. Under the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916, it was envisioned that most of Palestine, when freed from Ottoman control, would become an international zone not under direct French or British colonial control. Shortly thereafter, British foreign minister Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

The British captured Jerusalem a month later, and were formally awarded a mandate which was approved by the League of Nations in 1922. The 1922 census of Palestine recorded the population of Palestine as 757,000, of which 78% were Muslims, 11% were Jews, 10% were Christians and 1% were Druze. After the World War II and the Holocaust of Jews, the British Government terminated the mandate and United Nations voted to partition the territory. So clearly here a state was developed for people who were not inhabitants of the region.

In case of creation of state of Pakistan, there was political consultation. The partition was accepted by political stakeholders who represented the people of this very region. The provinces or regions that were to form Pakistan were those presented in the Lahore Resolution of 1940. The elections of 1946 were a de-facto referendum on it.

On the other hand, there was nothing similar in case of Palestine and Israel. No one consulted inhabitants of Palestine before deciding that their town, village or city was going to become Israel.

Another angle few argue about is the migrations and displacements of mass scale of people. The displacements in case of Pakistan and India were in both directions, People migrated from Pakistan to India and vice-versa. However, probably a greater population of Muslims as compared to those in Pakistan decided to remain in India. The migration and effects of partition were bloody which could have been avoided. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs; all suffered and lost in the disaster.

Displacement in Palestine was and is one directional i.e. Jews in and Palestinians out. Nearly all the population of the Israel is migrated whereas in comparison the migrant population in Pakistan was roughly around five to six percent.

Although, Jinnah announced, in August 1947, that Pakistan would be a secular state, it became a hard core religious state only after 1970s. Through 1974 constitution the nature of identity of Muslim was changed from an ethnic one to religious one. The roots of this religiosity, however, date back to the Objectives Resolution of 1949.

Ben Gurion, first prime minister of Israel, declared Israel a secular liberal democracy in 1948 and Israel has stuck to it to-date. Israel has not defined its Jewish identity on religious grounds rather ethnic and cultural grounds.

Last but not the least, any Jew born anywhere in the World, is eligible to become an Israeli citizen. As explained above, Israel by its very nature and design is a homeland for the Jewry of the world. Pakistan, however, is a homeland for people of Pakistan. It was not envisioned to make a homeland for all of the Muslims of the world. Anyone can become a citizen of Pakistan if one desires.

Pakistan is bigger and far more diverse state with plethora of complex problems as compared to Israel. Pakistan consists of diverse ethnicities and cultures and populations of various religions and sects. Israel’s identity is one i.e. Jewish. Therefore, Pakistan and Israel being similar is factually incorrect sweeping statement.


 

This article was published on Pak Tea House.

My Drawing Adventures – NCA Summer Camp

I started blogging on regular basis about two to three months back. I normally write articles on topics of politics, history and sports. In order to polish my writing skills and step out of my comfort zone I started following The Daily Post blog. I try as much as possible to respond to The Daily Prompts. It is certainly helping me in improving my writing skills and thought process.

On July 1, 2014, The Daily Post issued the following Daily prompt:

“Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to starting (an activity, a hobby, or anything else, really)? Tell us about it — and tell us about what’s keeping you from doing it.”

I have varied interests and set of hobbies. I like reading books, watching movies, listening music, travelling and exploring, watching and playing sports, exercising and recently blogging. But here is this one hobby which I have always wanted to pursue but have not been able to start: the art of Drawing/Sketching.

So here was my response to the aforementioned prompt: Back of the Queue – Sketching.

I received very encouraging responses and feedback on my post. I would specially like to mention Kate who encouraged me not to wait and start drawing right away. So straight after leaving the office I went to shop and bought pencils and sketch book.

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It has been at least 16 to 17 years since last I made any drawing. It was during my school days. So I made a couple of simple drawings to see where do I stand.

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I felt it wasn’t bad considering the first attempt. I also received encouraging feedback from friends and family.


 

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” It was a perfect execution of this proverb. On July 3, 2014 I came across following ad on the facebook.

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And yes, you have guessed right. I immediately rang the phone and got myself registered for the course. My partner at office was kind enough to let me take Friday off. He encouraged me to attend the course.

National College of Art (NCA) is one of the oldest and leading arts institutes in Pakistan. For over 130 years, the College has been educating top architects, artists and designers in the region and the country. It was the first time this kind of summer camp was introduced, which basically was a community outreach program.


 

Day 1: July 4

After the introduction and getting to know one another, the drawing students were taken to the computer lab of the college. Our instructor, Mr Ahsen Asif, is one the leading painter and artists of Pakistan. (Read a recent article on Mr Asif here). We were asked to browse the internet and explore about ‘The Art of Surrealism‘. We particularly studied about one of the leading artist who excelled in this art, René Magritte.

After discussing the works of Rene Magritte and concept of Surrealism we moved to the main studio where our class was to be held over the course of next few days. Being day one, we were asked by Mr Asif to draw whatever objects we find in the studio. It was a sort of test to check where the class stands.

Here are the drawings I made on the first day:

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Not bad I guess for an amateur trying after many years. Mr Asif liked the drawing and provided a very encouraging feedback.

 

Day 2: July 5

“The way surrealist painters twist the meaning of ordinary objects from mundane life, just by changing their context, is quiet thrilling to me” said Mr Asif.

So here was our assignment for the day. We had to pick and observe the real objects in our surroundings and had to present them by changing the context. I looked around and saw a sculpture and then I looked at my Iphone. An idea immediately sparked in my mind. Here is my execution of the art of surrealism:

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I received 7 out of 10 rating for it :).

 

Day 3: July 6

Assignment was to visit the college, select a scenery and draw it. Focus was particularly on drawing foliage. However, there was a twist in it. We had to divide our drawing paper in three parts. Each part had to be made using a different medium. I used pencils, pencil colours and ball point as the three mediums. Here is my awful drawing:

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Reason for this going bad was I lost interest half way. It was a hot day and sweltering heat just didn’t allow me to focus. And I learnt a good lesson from this experience. One should never continue with a drawing if you lose focus during it. Take a break, relax and resume later.

Overall the class was very good and some very fine work was done by all the students. An encouraging announcement was made by the admin staff that college will be giving us two bonus classes. So the workshop was extended from 6 to 8 days.

 

Day 4: July 7

Taking off early from the office I reached the college around 12:45 pm.

Assignment of the day was to draw objects placed in the centre of the class with crayons. It was a freehand drawing. Today’s twist was to draw it off-centre of the page by touching any three borders of the page and cutting few of the objects. Here is my work:

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It was first time I used oil pastels. It went ok I guess.

 

Day 5: July 11

After a break of three days we were back again. We had some instructions from Mr Asif to collect specific materials for this class. It included large sheets of 40 by 30 with ads on it, white and black paints and brush. It was time to try some ‘Pop Art’.

A table with chairs on it was placed in the centre of the studio. Here is my really bad ‘Pop Art’.

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I guess no need to comment on it any further :P.

 

Day 6: July 12

We were told to bring our portfolio of drawings made during the workshop to-date. One of our drawings was to be selected for the exhibition to be held on July 13. My ‘Art of Surrealism’ on day 2 was selected by Mr Asif for display at exhibition.

The assignment of the day: We had to draw some objects (boxes, bottles and balls) with pencils. Light source was placed on one side and we particularly had to focus on shading by observing the light and dark areas.

Here is my drawing:

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Not bad for an amateur I guess.

 

Day 7: July 13

Today was exhibition of our works. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Pervaiz Rashid was the Chief Guest. The pop art drawings and one of the best drawings from the remaining works were selected for exhibition. The exhibition included works from all classes i.e. drawing, painting and sculpture.

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Day 8: July 14

A very interesting assignment was waiting for us. We had to use the cotton buds and three inks i.e. Red, Blue and Yellow to make a dotted drawing. For making different colours we had to make dots with different colours. And here is another miserable piece from me:

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The only thing I was able to get right was the name ‘Fanta’ on the bottle at the top.

Making a mess of colours

Making a mess of colours


So this is how our workshop ended. I had a great time there and learned a lot. It was good to be back at college for some learning and fun after some years.


So I have concluded that I am better at drawing with pencils than using crayons, colors or inks etc. I mess up the drawing when using colours. So here are the few drawings I have made after the classes. I am regularly practising at home and feel my pencil work is improving gradually.

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Chartered Accountancy and Creativity/Arts do not go well with each other. Well I am trying to defy that :).

 

Full Disclosure – A dialogue with a mad scientist friend

A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip? – Daily Prompt by The Daily Post.


 

Fazal knocks the door of the house. Andrew opens the door.

“Hey bro! Great to see you! Come on in.” Andrew embraces Fazal and invites him inside the house.

Andrew and Fazal have been fast friends since childhood. Andrew went on to do doctorate in Sciences from one of the best universities in the world. He is a successful scientist and an inventor of many modern gadgets. 

Fazal is a Chartered Accountant. He is currently working at one of the biggest firms of the world.

“How is life? What are you up to these days? You mad scientist! ” Fazal asks Andrew while punching him lightly on his belly.

Andrew chuckles.

“Well my boring accountant friend, I have a surprise for you. This insane scientist has made an insane invention.” Andrew tells Fazal while pouring the drink in glasses.

“Ah! Not another one!” jokes Fazal and grabs the glass. “What crazy invention have you made now?”

“Cheers!” exclaim both Andrew and Fazal while clinking their glasses.

“Relax my dumb friend. It will soon be unveiled to you. After all its you on whom I am going to try it.” says Andrew with a cunning smile.

Fazal leans back on the sofa. “No way! Keep me away from your crazy world.”

“It will make your head explode.. I am telling you.” remarks Andrew.

Fazal shrugs his shoulders. “Whatever!”

“Come! Let me show it to you.” Andrew asks Fazal.

Both Andrew and Fazal go downstairs towards the lab. Andrew opens the drawer of a long table in centre of the lab and takes out a chip. He shows the chip to Fazal while holding it with his thumb and index figure. Andrew’s beaming face tells the story.

“This is just a chip. What so great about it? You dumbo!” says Fazal with a sarcastic smile.

“This is not an ordinary chip man. This is a revolution!” asserts Andrew. “This chip will fit right in your head that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking.”

“What?” exclaims Fazal.”You got to be kidding.”

“No my friend I am not.” replies Andrew. “I told you it will make your head explode”

“If that’s true, this is an amazing work. Congrats! You crazy head!” Fazal gives a high five to Andrew.

“Are you ready?” Andrew asks Fazal. “I am going to fit it in your head. Your world will change now. You will know what others are thinking about you” Andrew explains. “But there is just one problem. You cannot turn it off ever.”

“I respect you and your work my friend. You are simply brilliant. Sorry! I can’t and I don’t want to use this” replies Fazal.

“Why? What’s the problem?” asks Andrew.

“Why should I be concerned about what others think of me?” Fazal asks Andrew and leans back on the chair. “I mean why should I be living a life that follows the ideal notions of what other people think. I am not really bothered about what other people think about me. This chip is just going to make my life difficult for me.”

“Hmmmm… You make sense. I thought it will help you. It will let you know what others are thinking about you. You can unearth the hypocrisy of people. Thinking something else and talking completely opposite.” Andrew replies.

Fazal walks to Andrew and places his hand on his shoulder.

” Well! That’s what really troubles me my friend. I may be able to identify hypocrites but it is really going to take a toll on my life. At some point it is going to affect me. What pants should I wear? How should I eat? Should I laugh or not?… I mean ultimately this all is going to creep in my mind. I will not be able to live normally.” replies Fazal.

Andrew nods. “I respect your views. You sound right!”

Fazal leans back to the chair again. “It’s impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations. There will always be people , no matter what we say or how we treat them,  that will judge us. Whether you’re at the gym, at work, at restaurant or even playing sports. You will never be able to stop people from judging you, but you can stop it from affecting you. I am a simple person and want to live a simple life.” Fazal explains.

Andrew places the chip on the table and stands up. “I am going to destroy it. I guess it’s going to cause more misery instead of benefits.”

Fazal stands up as well. “No! No! I did not mean that. These are my views. You may find a great no. of people who would really want it and will be really comfortable with it.”

Andrew puts the chip back in the drawer.”Okay! I am going to find volunteers for it and let’s see how does it turn out to be.”

“You are not going to win a Nobel Prize for it.. You crazy head!” Fazal jokes.

“You are just jealous… You dull philosopher!” Andrew remarks sarcastically. “Come! Let’s have another round of drinks”.

FIFA World Cup 2014 – Germany deserved to win

The disappointment of the lacklustre opening ceremony was short lived and, from the opening goal of the tournament to Germany lifting the cup in the finals, it was well compensated in every manner possible with great entertainment and thrilling matches throughout the tournament.

The World Cup could not have begun on a more dramatic note, with Marcelo scoring a first own-goal by a Brazilian in the history of the tournament, watched by over 62,000 Brazilians live. But Neymar also struck twice during the match and as distress turned into ecstasy for Brazilians everywhere, we experienced what it meant to be part of such a huge, global event.

From the first match onwards, there was no looking back. Within 24 hours, airborne Robin Van Persie scored a stunning goal, Arjen Robben made sprints across the field that would make Usain Bolt envious and the world champions of 2010 were reduced to dust by the Dutchmen.

The World Cup was truly underway with a great promise. We were treated with some thrilling matches, a flurry of goals and goalkeeping heroics. And after a tense 120 minute final between Germany and Argentina, Germany was crowned world champions and the FIFA World Cup 2014 came to an end.

Let’s relive the magic of the World Cup once again. Here are the highs and lows of the tournament:

The hosts

The start of the matches were marred by controversies surrounding unfinished stadiums, political tensions, mass protests and corruptions. But all this faded away as soon as the games began. It has been one of the best staged tournaments ever. The 32-day event will not only be remembered for offering some terrific football but also because it went along very smoothly, with no evident logistical disasters taking place for neither the teams nor the thousands of travelling fans.

 

Arena Amazonia under construction. Photo: Reuters

Arena Amazonia under construction. Photo: Reuters

For the hosts, the only disappointment was towards the end of the tournament, when their hearts were broken by the worst ever World Cup performance by their team in a semi-final, as Brazil took a dismal 7-1 thrashing from Germany.

Pakistan’s Brazuca

Pakistan’s participation as a team, at the biggest football tournament, remains a dream. Pakistan did, however, manage to mark its presence in the current FIFA World Cup by providing locally manufactured, durable footballs – called the Brazucas – that were used during the matches.

The official match ball for the 2014 World Cup named ”Brazuca” is presented in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters

The official match ball for the 2014 World Cup named ”Brazuca” is presented in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Reuters

The ball was tested before the start of the tournament by the likes of Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian Schwienstiger and even the 1998 World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane, who gave their thumbs up to it. Goalkeepers termed it a reliable ball that didn’t dip or swerve, unlike its predecessor the Jabulani.

Crowds, fans and national anthems

One of the criticisms the 2010 World Cup in South Africa faced were the empty stadiums in many matches. In Brazil, though, it was a completely different story; fans flocked in from all across the world to be part of the action. There were hardly any vacant seats in the matches, showing us just how much love Brazilians have for this beautiful sport. The most heartrending moment of each match, in my opinion, was the national anthem and especially so when thousands of Brazilians sang their national anthem aloud, without any music.

Supporters gather ahead of the Group A football match between Brazil and Croatia at The Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Photo: AFP

Supporters gather ahead of the Group A football match between Brazil and Croatia at The Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Photo: AFP

Pioneering moments: Goal line technology, vanishing sprays and water breaks

France’s striker Karim Benzema hit a left-footed hit off the far post that straddled the goal line but the ball never crossed the line until bouncing off Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladres. This was the moment we witnessed the real benefit of goal line technology, introduced for the first time in this tournament. There was not an immediate signal for a goal, and without goal-line technology, France may not have gone up 2-0.

Goal line technology. Photo: Reuters

Goal line technology. Photo: Reuters

Referees used white foam sprays (also known as vanishing sprays) during free kicks to ensure no defenders encroach. Lastly, considering the scorching heat during mid-day games, FIFA introduced water breaks in this tournament to avoid players wilting in the heat.

Vanishing spray. Photo: AFP

Vanishing spray. Photo: AFP

Refereeing

Refereeing, in this tournament, came under fire from various quarters, who thought it to be too lenient throughout the tournament. Over-the-top tackles have gone unpunished and outrageous dives have rarely been questioned. Although the South American flavour of football doesn’t favour too many interruptions, the quarter-final tie between Brazil and Colombia – that saw a staggering 54 fouls and only four yellow cards – needed stricter decisions.

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

The brutal tackle resulting in Neymar’s horrific injury went unpunished. Teams like Mexico and Ivory Coast felt hard done by dubious penalty decisions.

A goal fest

Goals, goals and goals – the tournament has been full of it, which has made it truly exciting and exhilarating. The World Cup of 1998 in France was the first tournament with an expanded format featuring 32 teams. With 171 goals Brazil 2014 has joined the highest goal scoring tournament rank with France 1998. Moreover, with an average of 2.67 goals per game, this World Cup is second best after the one held in 1970 in Mexico, with average of 2.97 goals per game.

Bosnia’s Sead Kolasinac scores an own goal during the 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, June 15, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Bosnia’s Sead Kolasinac scores an own goal during the 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match between Argentina and Bosnia at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, June 15, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Best goal

The World Cup 2014 has strangely been devoid of good free kicks. However, there have been brilliant field goals to compensate those. Colombia’s James Rodriguez scored six goals, all of them being very impressive but the best one was his chest trap, swivel and left-footed dipping volley against Uruguay that looked like it had come straight from a FIFA video game simulation.

Colombia’s James Rodriguez, right in yellow, scoring his second goal of the day against Uruguay. Photo: Reuters

Colombia’s James Rodriguez, right in yellow, scoring his second goal of the day against Uruguay. Photo: Reuters

Other notable mentions include Van Persie launching like a human projectile to head in a goal against Spain. David Luiz’s bullet-like free kick against Colombia from 35 yards was also a memorable goal.

Celebrations

The World Cup produced a dizzying number of goals and a dizzying number of unbridled celebrations at the same time; the celebrations became like a shadow competition among the teams. Ghana’s dance moves were awesome. Van Persie’s jubilant hi five to Louis Van Gaal after the flying goal was an iconic moment. However, Mexico’s coach, Miguel Herrera, was the clear winner; he celebrated Mexican goals with more gusto than his players. The colourful man was the toast of photographers.

Miguel Herrera celebrates the second goal of their team against Croatia during their World Cup Group A match. Photo: Reuters

Miguel Herrera celebrates the second goal of their team against Croatia during their World Cup Group A match. Photo: Reuters

Goalkeeping heroics

We have seen a flurry of goals in the tournament; however, goal keepers have also been equal to the task. Germany’s Michael Neuer has been the best stopper who exhibited great positioning skills to save some very certain goals. He deservedly won the golden glove.

Michael Neuer. Photo: Reuters

Michael Neuer. Photo: Reuters

Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa has been outstanding. Argentina’s Sergio Romero became a national hero when he saved penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to send his side into their first World Cup final in 24 years.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard of USA saves a shot during their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Belgium. Photo: Reuters

Goalkeeper Tim Howard of USA saves a shot during their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Belgium. Photo: Reuters

However, the single most impressive goalkeeping display of all may have come from USA’s Tim Howard against Belgium; Howard made 16 saves, a record for any goalkeeper in a World Cup match stretching back to 1966.

Fairy tale of the tournament

Costa Rica. After beating three former champions to top the group of death, the Costa Ricans edged out 2004 Euro winners to enter their first-ever World Cup quarter-final. They dragged the Dutch to the penalty shootout before bowing out. They played really good football throughout the tournament and gave a very tough time to all opponents.

Costa Rica players celebrate their penalty shootout win. Photo: Reuters

Costa Rica players celebrate their penalty shootout win. Photo: Reuters

Worst moment

This was not difficult to select, as it can only be one – Luis Suarez and his bite. The guy is a prolific striker and there is no denial about his goal scoring abilities. But there is one other thing he does on the pitch besides scoring goals and that is biting his fellow players!

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini (L) showing an apparent bite mark and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (R) holding his teeth after the incident during the Group D match between Italy and Uruguay. Photo: Reuters

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini (L) showing an apparent bite mark and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (R) holding his teeth after the incident during the Group D match between Italy and Uruguay. Photo: Reuters

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini is his latest victim, after FC PSV’s Otman Bakkal and Chelsea’s Branislov Ivanovic. It was absolutely disgraceful, not only for football but for sports in general.

The worst player

Brazilian striker, Fred, scored just once in six world cup matches and even that goal came in the comfortable 4-1 victory over Cameroon. Fred was the highest goal scorer in the Confederations Cup 2013 Brazil and his transformation to a world cup flop has just been incredible (and incredulous). His performance was so bad that sometimes it managed to jeopardise Neymar’s good work.

Brazilian footballer Fred. Photo: Reuters

Brazilian footballer Fred. Photo: Reuters

Alongside him, Cristiano Ronaldo lacked his magical touch, Diego Costa aggravated Spain’s miseries and Steven Gerrard looked completely out of sorts.

The worst team

The world expected another exhibition of the dominant and silken football play, Tiki-Taka, from the reigning European and World Champions, Spain, but they were completely abysmal in Brazil. Spain could not recover from the after effects of the Dutch onslaught in their first match and were eliminated after their loss to Chile in the second match.

Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts after a goal by Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match. Photo: Reuters

Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts after a goal by Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match. Photo: Reuters

Many football pundits believe Spain’s aging team was the sole reason behind their dismal performance. If Spain had used the same players, who played in the final group match of the team, from the very beginning, perhaps the results would have been different.

Besides Spain, England was rubbish; although Italy beat England, but it was rubbish too.

The best player

James Rodriguez of Colombia, without a doubt. Although he missed out winning the golden ball – for me, he was the best player. Few would have heard about the pint-sized playmaker before the World Cup. He has become a household name after scoring six goals, including one of the tournament’s best in five matches. The evidence of his abilities was the post-match acknowledgment from Brazilian players in front of the crowd. James Rodriguez is certainly going to be a big star in the future with all the big clubs of the world wanting him.

Colombia’s James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring a penalty against Brazil. Photo: Reuters

Colombia’s James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring a penalty against Brazil. Photo: Reuters

Also, Robben’s dazzling pace and work rate has been simply outstanding. Neymar and Lionel Messi, who won a golden ball each, have carried their respective teams single-handedly, which evidences the mastery of their skill at the game.

The best team

No doubt about it – Germany, the FIFA World Cup 2014 Champions. Germany had the most well-balanced and complete team this World Cup. They could have carved out a team from their substitutes and still have done very well! The team performed just like German made machines – precise, fast and ideal in quality. Strong goalkeeper, rock solid defence, powerhouse midfield and a dominant attacking force – a complete team. They deserved the cup.

Germany’s team poses for pictures before the start of their 2014 World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Germany’s team poses for pictures before the start of their 2014 World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Photo: Reuters

After them, Netherlands should also be mentioned. The team had the best attacking line-up, well supported by a good midfield and defence. The tactics of Louis Van Gaal were simply master class. Although Argentina has been more of a one man show with Messi overshadowing every one; nevertheless, they made it to finals with good games.

Germany's players lifts the World Cup trophy as they celebrate their 2014 World Cup final win against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

Germany’s players lifts the World Cup trophy as they celebrate their 2014 World Cup final win against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

There have been suggestions from various quarters that this could very well have been the greatest World Cup ever. That is a tall claim to make for a tournament that is over eight decades old, but there are several persuasive reasons to base these compliments on. I, for one, enjoyed this tournament thoroughly and anticipate that the next World Cup will be even more electrifying than this one.

 

This blog was published on Express Tribune Blogs.