World Cup 2018 – 1st Round – 5 of Our Best Moments

By Richard Wanjohi

29th June 2018 , two weeks and the World Cup’s biggest extravaganza takes it’s first break as it gets to the knock-out round. Funny how time flies fast when you’re having fun. It’s been a flurry of action, emotions, disappointment and triumph depending on where your interests lie.

As promised, we’ll look at the 5 best moments so far from the World Cup action in Russia thus far. Let’s get kickin’;

  1. Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland (Group H): Being only their second World Cup, Senegal came into this with a steely determination to prove they are no mere walkovers. In 2002, they started with the famous win over France.
    Senegal’s Aliou Cisse shows us why they are the Lions of Teranga

    In 2018, Poland was more fancied and at worst, the game was likely to be a draw. The Lions of Teranga had other ideas – even with the contentious second goal that the Polish team bitterly complained about.

  2. South Korea’s win 2-0 over Germany in Group F: South Korea qualified for the 2018 WC for the 9th consecutive time. They have been one of the hardest working teams with the players showing a rare work rate and runs all over the pitch. As Manuel Neuer of Germany who made the mistake of chasing a goal for Germany only to leave an empty net for Son Heung-Min. That the Koreans were already on their way out but still found the strength to score 2 goals in added/injury time speaks volumes. Germany continued ignominy of defending World Cup champions eliminated in the first round ( joining Spain from 2014, Italy in 2010 and France in 2002).
  3. Portugal and Spain’s 3-3 draw in Group B: Being among the first games of the championship, there was huge expectation of a tough game for both European foes. With the current European champions Portugal facing the immediate former European champs Spain, it was a goal fest and sight to see. Helped in part by goalkeeping errors and the work ethic of top strikers Diego Costa (Spain) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) it did live up to its billing. Spain had just sacked their immediate coach and Fernando Hierro took over a team even before kicking the ball – talk of baptism by fire.
    SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 15:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores a free-kick for his team's third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Spain at Fisht Stadium on June 15, 2018 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
    SOCHI, RUSSIA – JUNE 15: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores a free-kick for his team’s third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Spain at Fisht Stadium on June 15, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

    On other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo has won scored many goals and won many trophies , is it his time to pick up the world’s most recognizable one?

  4. Iceland’s 1-1 draw with Argentina (Group D):

    The Nordic state of Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup as one of two first-timers for the edifice. Coming up against one of the most formidable teams, favourites and 2014 finalists, Argentina seemed like an overkill for the Icelanders. Argentina’s strike force is any coach’s envy but this did not overawe the smallest state participating. To hold them to a single goal helped keep the folklore of their journey into the championship. They have one of the best fan base and who doesn’t love the viking chant, too bad they left us at the Group stages…

  5. Russia’s 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Group A: Hosting an event of such magnitude is no mean feat. Coming into the championship as dark, dark horses is also not easy – your own President doesn’t have much hope in your abilities and potent. Opening the games, two substitutes later and voila! Even the loudest of critiques swallow their words. Will they settle for 2nd as Sweden did in 1958 while hosting the event? In 1978 Argentina hosted and won the World Cup. In 1998 France hosted the championships and presto won it for the first time, twenty-years on, is this Russia’s time?

1st of July, the knock-out phase OR Round of 16 starts…may the best team(s) win!

 

Our Take-Out : 2010 World Cup in South Africa

(Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
The party’s over, vuvuzelas quiet and for the next few days all else football (or soccer)’s relegated to the transfer market ( though the Kenyan Premier League has resumed…). There were highs and lows, in & outs and whys & wherefores relating to the tournament. Off from some naysayers ( including our own team here at SportsKenya) and critics we managed to scheme out some of the 8 major stand-outs;

1)Big v/s Small : (Image courtesy of afreeimages.com)
 seasoned versus freshmen, top seeds v/s lower ranked nations, whichever way you look at it, there was not much of that once the tournament started. For experienced sides such as France and former champs Italy to be bundled out in the first round and for Uruguay to finish fourth ahead of other countries such as England, Portugal, Brazil,Argentina and Africa’s own top seeds, this tournament proved too unpredictable for any bookmaker. But when push came to shove, the top two nations who had played some superior games Netherlands and Spain faced off in a not-so-entertaining Final.

2)FIFA’s ‘Profitability v/s Host Nation’s own investment: This is a question that hosting nations need to start asking themselves. Who makes the biggest catch in terms of profitability and invested properties, naming rights and other revenue streams? While FIFA’s reported to have made around US$ 3.2 billion in revenue, South Africa’s economy is expected to expand by only 0.5% in GDP terms – that’s counting all other factors constant. So there is something called legacy and the ensuing infrastructural costs? And someone has been asking if Zuma & Co would want to bid for Olympics? Well they just did!


(Image Courtesy of Abisa.co.za)

3)Vuvuzela & Jabulani or is it Jobulani?: The noise-maker and the runaway ball were the main talking points in the pitch and around the stadiums. What other heritage could we have given the World Cup after our own African teams disappointed us massively? The more they criticized the fan-horn, the more sales it reported. Here’s 10 of the best about it. As for the Adidas Jabulani ball, some of the very critics such as England’s Fabio Capello had been given the chance to play the ball earlier but thanks to the hype from the media about their abilities they didn’t give it a try.
Iker Casillas had started on it too but after keeping clean slates, I guess there were other excuses to give besides the ball to blame.

4)FIFA’s ‘Partners’ v/s Ambush Marketers:
FIFA has been trying to make major corporate firms to give long term commitments to the sport through the rather complicated (but often over-valued) sponsorship arrangement. This has seen some major companies avoid this arrangement and instead engage in developing ads which are drawn towards ‘sowing where FIFA says they have not reaped’. From the ‘Oranje beauties, to Nike’s Writing the Future and Pepsi-Cola’s African rendezvous, top companies which have previously been associated with the game have looked for cheaper ways to create their own buzz around FIFA’s tournaments. Back to the drawing boards Mr. Blatter?

5)’Real’Football versus Boring:
From a wide range of views, this was a rather technical game rather than attacking game. Given the statistics of having the 2nd lowest goal average since the World Cup begun at 2.3 goals per game, there is need for footballing nations to stop wasting our valuable viewership. For the Final, we had to wait for a miserable 116 minutes before spiking our rather low spirits, no wonder Americans rue this game for its lack of ‘exciting’ moments!

6)Social media: As we had noted earlier, social media was bound to play a huge part in this tournament and this shows the extent to which this will affect future sporting and landmark events. From Twitter, Facebook, Blogger (like yours truly who chose to watch this from the terrace), REAL TIME reportage and coverage just got better!

7) FIFA’s History books redrafted :
A few footnotes for FIFA on its history books; South Africa’s first round exit made it the first host nation to exit that early; new order in winning nations meant that Spain joins the rare privilege accorded to 9 other nations across the world. Europe pulled a fast one on South America making it 10 out of 19 (the rest obviously going to South American countries)

8) Africa’s Future:
While most critics maybe quick to dismiss the effect the tournament had on the continent, it is fair to say that Africa shall be proud of South Africa for putting together this event. Measured we shall be in our praise since very few countries had any economic or commercial impact from the tournament. What was even worse was the fact that the party came in late for African teams with only Ghana making an effort to the quarters but again showing the inexperience that cripples most of the continent’s teams. But learning, we sure did learn a thing or two from Africa’s ‘first-world’ state.

As Brazil start blazing the world as they look to host the first of its major tournaments in the next 4 years, let’s hope African countries soak in more lessons from this as they hope for the windfall sometime maybe from ….2030? We can ask Paul the Octopus, well over to you FIFA!