Sucking & swallowing take centre stage

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So after Wednesday’s games the South American World Cup qualifiers are over, and I’m sure you don’t want to hear about Brazil vs Venezuela – a soporific 0-0 draw, from what I heard.

NEWS: Lacklustre Brazil held by Venezuela

Yes, because I, as nearly everyone I know in Brazil who has cable TV, chose to watch the much-anticipated Uruguay vs Argentina battle.

In Samba land, no one would dare not witness the joyful moment of Argentina being kicked out of football’s top prize.

But, as we all know, it didn’t happen.

Not only because Diego Maradona’s boys beat the hosts 1-0, but also because Ecuador lost to Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile.

Thanks to that, even if Uruguay had toppled Argentina, our struggling neighbours would have had another shot of making South Africa in the play-off against Costa Rica.

Now Uruguay must face them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Central Americans, coached by Brazilian Renê Simões, pip them over two legs.

It’s worth remembering that, four years ago, Uruguay made history by losing to Australia, the first time a South American side failed to win a cross-continent World Cup qualifying play-off.

NEWS: Simoes must rebuild shocked Costa Rica spirits

But back to the Estadio Centenario clash.

Uruguay had a couple of chances early on, but Argentina – mainly thanks to Veron’s experience, since Messi was useless once again – managed to cool things down.

They cooked the game, as we say in Brazil, and were rewarded with the late goal that sparked Maradona’s wild celebration.

“Suck it!!!” he shouted still on the pitch, between tears and hugs, with the TV cameras showing it live.

Later, in the press conference, after some time to control his emotions… he didn’t.

“They can suck it and carry on sucking it,” he blasted. “This is for all Argentines, except the journalists.”

Meanwhile, in Brazil, another journalist-unfriendly gaffer, Dunga, was commenting – and regretting – Argentina’s classification.

“The talk that we want everyone there is a myth. Do you want your enemy to carry on living?” he asked, before concluding on the spot: “If your foe is thirsty, give him a spoon of salt.”

Argentina’s terrible situation, and Maradona’s woes, were naturally the butt of many jokes in Brazil.

One of them said that Diego’s form was so ugly that the 'Dios' - who once was compared to Pelé - was now only matched by Dunga... and was currently losing the dismal match-up.

The truth is a Maradona-like rant from the manager isn't new to Brazilians.

Seleção idol Mario Zagallo, a four-time World Cup winner, also lost his composure after clinching the 1997 Copa America.

The timeless Old Wolf, whose job as a coach was then much criticised by the Brazilian press, blasted, with his eyes almost popping out of his face, “Now you’ll have to swallow me!”

Sucking, swallowing… that’s why we all love football.

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