Brazil 2014: SA’s top TV treats

2014-05-21 16:03
Soccer World Cup 2014 (File)
Durban - Kick-off times for some of the most attractive World Cup soccer matches on paper in Brazil are generally kind to South African television viewers, despite the time difference between the countries of some five hours.

SuperSport revealed their saturation coverage plans at a lavish, Samba-style function at Umhlanga here on Tuesday, including confirmation that Manchester United’s Welsh legend Ryan Giggs would head up a galaxy of international stars providing analysis during the month-long tournament between June 12 and July 13.

Others include Gaizka Mendieta (Spain), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Marcel Desailly (France), John Barnes (England), Andy Townsend (Ireland) and Bafana Bafana icons like Shaun Bartlett, Doctor Khumalo and Andre Arendse.

On average, group-phase games are in 18:00 or 21:00 sort of time slots for South African purposes, which can be considered reasonably prime time, although there are also some midnight starts and just one genuinely unfriendly 03:00 kick-off from our point of view, a Group C encounter between Ivory Coast and Japan on June 14.

None of the matches in the critical knockout stages start later than 22:00 SA time, and the final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio on July 13 is at 21:00.

Of course it helps that South Africa, especially in winter, has very similar time zones to the lucrative TV markets of the UK and Western Europe, around which so many major sports events are invariably scheduled.

SuperSport will have round-the-clock channels on the World Cup in both standard definition and HD.

Still strongly fuelled by memories of the much-praised 2010 event on our turf, South Africans will rue the absence of the national side this time, but catch the month-long soccer “bug” nevertheless as football has a sort of homecoming to the ever-alluring fields of Brazil.

Here are six matches in the group stage - with kick-off times - that are likely to jump out straight away to SA audiences, who will at least have five African sides to cheer on (Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Algeria).

1 Spain v Netherlands: Salvador, June 13, 21:00 SA time

Just day two of the World Cup ... and already a succulent meeting between the contestants of the 2010 final at Soccer City in Johannesburg as champions Spain take on those luckless bridesmaids (three times losing finalists) the Dutch. Wonder if it will be as feisty and physical as the 2010 showpiece?

2 Italy v England: Manaus, June 14, 00:00 SA time

At the risk of sounding Anglo-centric, unfancied England do still have a fair old following in SA, especially given the enduring popularity of the Premiership. This “rumble in the jungle” in steamy Manaus features two established European superpowers of years gone by.

3 Germany v Portugal: Salvador, June 16, 18:00 SA time

A clash of another couple of Euro leading lights - and a decent public holiday telly attraction in South Africa, it must be said - as the ever-competitive Germans (second in the FIFA rankings) take on a Portuguese side (third) who seldom fire consistently at World Cups but are spearheaded by a certain Cristiano Ronaldo ...

4 Ghana v Germany: Fortaleza, June 21, 21:00 SA time

The well-oiled German machine again, but this time tackling the African team quickly embraced by most South Africans after Bafana’s brave exit from the 2010 event -- and agonisingly diddled at an advanced stage by controversial Uruguayan Luis Suarez’s cynical hand-ball. Can the Black Stars reach the quarters again?

5 Brazil v Cameroon: Brasilia, June 23, 22:00 SA time

Another sexy African-ingredient fixture as Cameroon (ranked 50th on the planet right now) attempt the particularly tall order of dirtying the noses of the glamorous tournament hosts.  

6 Nigeria v Argentina: Porto Alegre, June 25, 18:00 SA time

South Africa has a strong Nigerian expat community and you can bet they’ll be out in boisterous force at watering holes and the like to watch the Super Eagles take on South American giants Argentina. Things may get Messi...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    swc 2014  |  soccer

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