By Quazi Zulquarin islam
Ex-Bayern Munich legend Stefan Effenberg once said "Is there anything better than meeting friends, having a beer and watching how the national team plays on TV during a big tournament?"
I think that above all epitomizes the mixed feelings that are evident about FIFA international tournaments in the yearly calendar. While most FIFA sponsored tournaments are fun to watch and give the players a chance to represent their country, there are many who feel everything except the World Cup should be scrapped due to fixture pileup.
However, after the Confederations Cup 2005 in Germany ended, there were very little to be heard from the FIFA detractors.
This was mainly because of an enthralling tournament that bought together the best in the world. On paper it looked inviting and for once it delivered with stunning results.
After a highly competitive group stage the four strongest teams of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and hosts Germany contested the semi-finals.
The first semi, bought together Germany and Brazil, the two most successful teams in football history and it was a match to remember. By half time the score was 2-2 with a penalties each both converted with aplomb by Ronaldinho and Ballack. It was however, Inter Milan's powerhouse Adriano who settled an evenly contested issue with a late goal due to defensive blunder.
The second semi was a more drab affair that did not explode until there were two goals in first half of extra time. It went to penalties and it was the Argentineans who kept their nerve to win through to the finals.
So, the El Clasico it was in the finals, and Brazil showed why they are still the best team in the world in a mind-boggling display of mesmerizing football, 345 days before the start of the World Cup. It ended 4-1 after Pablo Aimar grabbed a late consolation but the dominating quality of Brazil's play left people gape-mouthed. The others have been warned.
Arguably the best match of the tournament was played out in the 3rd place playoff, where Michael Ballack scored a scintillating free-kick in extra time to settle the affair 4-3 against Mexico.
Adriano won the Golden Ball (best player) and Golden Shoe (top scorer) for his pulsating performances. Juan Roman Riquelme won the Silver Ball while Michael Ballack won the Silver Shoe.
On to cricket, where the Nat-West trophy drew to rip roaring end with a superb final that ended of all things in a tie. Chasing down Australia's modest 196, England found themselves in early trouble before a wonderful partnership between Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones pushed them close to victory. Australia however seemed to have the match wrapped up as England needed 3 off the last ball to win. Although Glenn Mcgrath sent down an excellent yorker Ashley Giles somehow booted it to third man and picked up two to tie the game and share the trophy. However, the people of Bangladesh will remember this tournament as one where the Bangladesh team showed the world that they could more than hold their own against crickets best teams. Special mentions to Md. Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees.
To tennis now, and the just concluded Wimbledon provided a few surprises especially in the women's game where Venus Williams won her third title after playing some sterling tennis throughout the tournament, none more so in the semis where she disposed of pin up starlet Maria Sharapova. The men's final showed just how far Roger Federer is ahead of the chasing pack as he disposed off Andy Roddick in the finals after a disdainful spanking of Lleyton Hewitt in the semis.
Finally for F1 viewers, the French Grand Prix provided some respite after the debacle of Indianapolis, where all the Michelin sponsored companies failed to race. Ferrari won the US Grand Prix and Michael Shumacer managed to put in a third place performance at the French where the pole and second where Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikonnen respectively.
That's all for today! Till later!
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Just look at the Atom. It's unlike any other car on the road or any other surface for that matter. Form following function, race bred design and truly uncompromised performance. It looks a little bit like a formula 1 racer. It performs a lot like one too except it doesn't have the same drawbacks. You see, the F1 racers are built to last about a few hundred miles and then all new parts have to be added. Its one of the most beautiful cars in the world partly because it's so elegant and partly because it's such a wonderful piece of engineering. Using the chassis as a kind of exoskeleton is simply out of this world. Its an either or love or hate design. Its also a very functional design as you can easily reach for whatever adjustments you have to make.
Minimal bodywork, moulded to the highest standards possible, consisting of separate composite panels reduces weight and minimises costs. Developed in the wind tunnel to generate front and rear downforce, with special attention paid to underbody air flow, the bodywork provides stability and precise steering at all speeds.
In a recent Autocar 27 cars and a Suzuki GSX-R1000 raced to 100 miles per hour and back again. Unsurprisingly the 300 BHP Ariel Atom was the fastest of all of the cars tested with an incredible 0-100-0 MPH time of 10.88 seconds, a tiny 0.06s slower than the Suzuki at 10.82. Or to compare it to the Porsche tested, by the time the driver of the 911 Carrera S was reaching for the brake pedal, the Atom had already stopped!
It reaches 60MPH in an astonishing 3.15s and 100MPH in just 6.86s, times comparable with those set by the McLaren F1. Top Gear maniacs drove the Atom to the Arctic Circle, in winter. The car survived and so did the drivers though whether they will be able to father children is a big question. The Atom didn't skip a beat in well-below-zero temperatures
With its wide track the Atom can accomodate 2 large adults in safety, comfortably solving the space problems usually found in vehicles of this class. But that's about all the hint of practicality you get. It probably more so that youcan have a partner along to scream deliriously in joy.
On the dash housed in a minimal console the compact racing instruments feature stepper motor driven needles with clear, white on black, easy to read faces, LCD readouts for secondary information and all legally required warning lights for road use. A remote, keyless immobiliser allows for an ignition on/kill switch and starter button, ergonomically grouped together with other controls around the steering wheel.
The suspension used in the Atom is unique on a road car and has been derived from current single seat race cars. It's designed for extreme cornering but still has inboard rubber/metal bushes for compliance and comfort. But heck, you can adjust the settings for road or track use or to individual preferences.
The Atom's power to weight ratio exceeds that of a 911 Porsche. The Honda engine and gearbox combines reliability and tuning options with economic servicing and practical ownership. In tuned form it is capable of giving up to up to 500 bhp/tonne. A Ferrari Enzo is below that.
The Atom is a celebration of style. Its all about revelling in form and function and discarding all thoughts of practicality. It's a car you climb into because it is that low. And you have to wear a blasted helmet otherwise you will be eating a lot of bugs in this open cockpit design. Of course that means no one will recognise you in your expensive toy. And expensive it is at about $ 70000 US. This is certainly not going to be bought by your average Joe. However, if the money is not a consideration, the experience will take you on a wild ride. Of course, there are cheaper and less powerful versions starting at 160 bhp. With such a low weight even that will offer astonishing performance. Wanna bet that the Sultan of Brunei already doen't have a fleet of these machines?