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The Age

Winging it through nightly talk fest of all things World Cup

Author: PAUL KALINA
Date: 10/06/2010
Words: 767
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Green Guide
Page: 12
ACCORDING to folklore, get two Jews together and you'll get three opinions. The same can be said of soccer fans.

Opinions flow fast and funny in an hour in the company of comedian and writer Santo Cilauro  arguably Melbourne's best-known soccer tragic  and Ed Kavalee, who has recently come out of the closet to declare his passion for the game after years at the sport-free Get This with Tony Martin on Triple M.

Over soup (Ed) and herbal tea (Santo), they serve up colourful anecdotes about the game and pick their way through the short but notable history of the Socceroos' bid for World Cup glory.

Cilauro has attended the past three World Cups and has already booked his tickets for Brazil in 2014 but says he is happy to spend the 2010 games in Melbourne, from where he is co-presenting Santo, Sam and Ed's Cup Fever! live each night of the tournament.

"It's a good excuse," he says with characteristic nonchalance. "We'd be talking about the games whether there are cameras around us or not so we may as well have cameras around us.

"When SBS asked what will the show be like I said, 'I don't know. We haven't done it yet.' All we know is we love our football and reserve the right to be silly at short notice.

"We might do spoofs, we might have guests ... It feels a bit like when we snuck off to do The Late Show. We weren't sure what the show was at the start but we had enough faith in knowing what we wanted to do and that something would show up."

The 30-minute show will broadcast from a small studio at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square.

They're promising informed discussion alongside uninformed analysis, politically incorrect gags that might require third panellist Sam Pang to imitate Kim Jong-il (North Korea is in the World Cup, which Kavalee contends will be the largest gathering of North Koreans outside of a military rally in Pyongyang) and a running gag about Cilauro's soccer-mad father falling asleep on the couch during the all-night marathons.

With a record 204 countries entering this year's World Cup, the Socceroos' participation is itself a major feat but Cilauro insists that the excitement will be in no way diminished should the team be eliminated early, as many pundits predict.

The parties begin at least three hours before the start of each game but it's the drama that happens on the pitch that makes the World Cup a mecca for football devotees, he says.

"There's always some drama on the field, a major shock, a new star out of nowhere. There's only one winner. There are many losers, there's no runner-up. It's not like [AFL] footy, where over four quarters someone deserves to win. In football, the cruelness is fantastic."

There will be a team or a player that will come out of nowhere and do something great, Kavalee chimes in. Such as happened in 1994, when Cameroon player Roger Milla scored against Russia. He was 42, the oldest scorer in a World Cup match.

"At the end of the game they had a photo of him with the Russian team; how's this guy?" Kavalee says.

The African teams are at their peak and there's growing excitement at the prospect of teams winning matches on their own continent.

However, World Cup glory is commensurate with disappointment. "After we lost to Italy in Germany [the 2006 knockout stage]," recalls Kavalee, "a German came up to me and said, 'This is Australia's World Cup education, you now know what it's like to be robbed by the Italians."'

Despite his Italian heritage, Cilauro is once again backing the Socceroos. "Year after year they'd take it for granted," says Cilauro of Italy's perceived entitlement to be in the World Cup. "I kept thinking, 'You guys have no idea, a team like Australia really wants to win a game.' That's why Australia did so well in the last World Cup, because they were too naive to think they couldn't make it any further."

Their predictions? "Australia will win it ... When Johnny Warren used to say we'd qualify, people laughed at him. If everyone thinks win, win, win, it can happen," Kavalee says. "But if Australia gets knocked out, I'm saying Brazil."

"Brazil," says Cilauro, who is less optimistic about the Socceroos' chances. "They'll do one better than last time, they'll get to the quarter finals which, if they do, will be pretty amazing."

Santo, Sam and Ed's Cup Fever! airs nightly from tomorrow at 8.30pm on SBS One.

 
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