By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
I watched a shoddy Euro football match that was nevertheless rich in dramatic twists. One between Russia and Greece.
Russia, the strongest in the group, needed only a draw to qualify for the quarterfinals. Greece, the weakest in the group with 1 draw and 1 lost, was awaiting its final moments.
Probably the arrogant Russians would not have been bothered about this weak opponent prior to the start of the match, having just slaughtered the Czechs and still basking in the sweet taste of victory.
Greece, without a reckoned football star in its rank or any specialised skills to shout about, was the next to be exterminated by the northern butchers.
When the whistle was blown, the Russians fiercely launched their attacks, leaving the Greeks in embarrassing defence positions.
The Russians made more than 20 attempts to send the ball into the Greek goal post but none actually reached it. It only took the Greeks one single attempt to claim one nil over their seemingly more powerful rivals.
Greek supporters inside the stadium were hysterical, so were the millions of TV viewers back home. All of a sudden, the mounting pressure from the country's financial woes was instantly relieved. Who would bother about the economic crisis anyway?
At the end of the match, I came to the realisation that this was the mental state of the Greek people.
Be it in the stadium or economy, life still has to go on even if death is about to knock at the door.
When the entire world is anxious about the country, the Greeks have their own ways of seeing things.
Among the thousands of Greek supporters inside the stadium, save for a handful of still resourceful elites, most were common citizens living in distress and without good prospects in view.
However, they cast their woes and stress behind them, packed their luggage and travelled to eastern Europe to watch their fellow countrymen play. Although their hopes of victory were slim, that did not do anything to dash their hopes.
Probably they believed miracles would appear.
And indeed it did on the football pitch. But what about their economy?
And now, the Greeks have elected a party that supports the austerity drive. The new government wants Greece to remain within the eurozone and is actively seeking EU support to deliver itself out of the current doldrums.
While this is a better option for the nation, the people must be psychologically prepared to swallow the Germany-orchestrated austerity measures.
The country's economic fundamentals are frail, productivity pathetically low but living costs relatively high. To get them to tighten their belts might not be a good idea for many.
However, the Greeks choose to stay in EU, and have faith the EU will deliver them out of their predicament.
Just like their national squad which is seen by many as a weak team. So long as they give their best shot, a godsend miracle is still within reach.
Even if all that is left is a football, there could still be hope and joy.
Well, a little luck could bring on a miracle in the football pitch, but in economic terms, nothing could bring on hope save for resolved sacrifices and hard efforts.