Today marked the opening of World Cup South Africa 2010 and RTE wheeled out the big guns for their opening live broadcast. The opening ceremony and pre-tournament analysis that followed suggested an entertaining month is ahead. What followed was vintage RTE analysis. Giles, Souness and Dunphy almost surgically identified the pros and cons of each competing country in a hugely informative piece.

There was also time for anchor Darragh Maloney to quiz Eamon Dunphy about the fact fame had gone to the Argentinean manager’s head which drew loud laughs from the studio as Dunphy struggled to keep a straight face realising the obvious comparisons with the RTE pundit. Eamon’s assessment that Spain’s Ramos is a head banger and Italy’s Iaquinta is a donkey bodes well for the remainder of the tournament.

The conversation turned to England where all three agreed Capello’s management should lead his side to the latter stages of the tournament. Although Dunphy mentioned England has an easy draw they also had the potential to ‘be moy-dured’ at the back without Rio Ferdinand.

Souness concurred and also stated that he would like to see England do well with an honest assessment as the country provided him with a decent living. A wonderful section ended with all three pundits being presented with red English jersey’s which they were asked to wear should Capello’s men reach the final.

I never thought I’d wish for England to reach a WC Final but the opportunity to see the three pundits don the red jerseys with their names emblazoned on the back has changed my mind.

The opening ceremony itself was everything you would have expected from a South African nation desperate to put on the best possible show. A spectacular presentation brimming with colour, vivacity, excitement and utter joy filled TV screens despite the absence of Nelson Mandela. The icon’s great grand-daughter tragically lost her life following a car accident the evening before.

Yet the real celebration for Irish football fans on the opening afternoon of World Cup 2010 is that RTE’s pundits have already set the TV alight with their concise analysis and off-the-cuff humour.

Add in a hilarious Après Match debut performance and it promises to be a cracking month. Oh and the football should be good too.

Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled \’Off Centre Circle’, published by the Evening Echo, which chronicles the curious life of a West Cork amateur soccer player.

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