There was a time Iker Casillas was like a god between the sticks. He made people forget the commanding performances of Oliver Kahn. The Spanish skipper inspired confidence in the four men in front of him.
But an injury in 2012 saw the start of his woes. First, Jose Mourinho signed Sevilla’s Diego Lopez to stand in for Casillas. But with Lopez proving his worth, he was retained and the Madrid and Spain skipper had to deal with the bench.
Mour left. Carlo Ancelotti came. Nothing changed. Casillas retained the bench until the later stages of Champions League when he was given the mantle.
But in the final, the rusty game reading was exposed as he was caught in no-man’s land. It was like a curse. Real went on to win the title, but Casillas had been exposed.
Against the Netherlands, the mockery turned to the name, with some fans saying he had morphed from Casillas to Curse-llas.
Well, the pain for Spain was Friday and we should be into Sunday fixtures. After Cameroon’s abysmal performance, many Africans have already signed out on the continent’s representatives.
But Ivory Coast, who are in the easiest World Cup group that features Colombia, Greece and Japan, should hype the faith.
The Elephants should easily beat Japan in their opening game, but then again, a team playing the likes of Didier Drogba, Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou would struggle to impress.
These are dinosaurs, and against the Samurai Warriors who rely on short passes and exude vivacity and confidence, it will be a hard one.
Ivory Coast also have Yaya Toure struggling for fitness, and added to their perennial failure at the big stage, they have a fate to fight. This is 2014’s first draw.
In Group E, Otmar Hitzefeld’s Switzerland are fancied to go beyond the second round. They will do a handicap on Ecuador. France will not need a referee to beat Honduras.