The World Cup is here
Earth’s 8 sisters and the sun shall notice a change in her. They shall see her smile and enjoy her rotation more than before. Little will they know that all this is brought about by a tiny man-made object shaped like them, with the power to attract the world’s attention to one location – Russia.
So the World Cup is here! It’s a journey that began in Uruguay in 1930 with a few invited teams. The tournament has really evolved over the years, an evolution story that captures every aspect of the beautiful game – kitting, logistics, diet, medicine, technology, tactics, fanaticism and more instructively laws of the game. Oh lest I forget, and the sticker album. Young fans don’t care about the aforementioned, all they want is fill their albums with faces of their heroes and idols.
The World Cup is a special competition with beautiful memories over the years. Unlike the club game, you’ve time to assimilate memories before another edition comes around. What is your most enduring memory of the World Cup? A tearful 17year-old Pele carried should high in Sweden ’58? The wizardry of Garrincha in Chile ’62? Mario Zagallo’s men in Mexico ’70? Johan Cruyff and the famous Dutch team of ’74? Mario Kempes’ exploits in Argentina ’78? Tele Santana’s “beautiful failures” of Spain ’82? Diego Maradona’s “hand of God goal” or his amazing solo goal at Mexico ’86?
Could it be Maradona’s tears after Argentina losing to Germany in the dirtiest World Cup final of all-time in Italy ’90? Roberto Baggio’s penalty launch into space or Colombian Andre Escobar’s tragic own goal that got him killed, of USA ’94? The Ronaldo-Barthez clash or or Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina at France ’98? Italy’s unfortunate exit against South Korea or Ronaldo’s comeback or Ronaldinho’s free kick goal against England at Japan/South Korea ’02? Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt or Fabio Grosso’s last penalty @ Germany ’06? The “vuvuzela” or the Suarez handball against Ghana cum Gyan’s penalty miss in South Africa ’10? The Brazil 1-7 Germany or Suarez biting Chiellini at Brazil ’14?
There’ll definitely be memories again this time round.
Every World Cup has favourites, with some almost always featuring. This time, bookmakers point to Germany, Spain and Brazil as the top guns with France and Argentina close by. Portugal and England always come short, flattering to deceive sometimes. Belgium is an interesting package; they have wonderful human resource but lack tournament experience. Alongside Uruguay and Colombia, they can give the fancied teams tough competition. However, room should be made for a surprise; North Korea in England ’66, Sweden in USA ’94 and Croatia in France ’98 are examples.
Winning the World Cup is serious business. Bagging $38m should take some sweating. It goes beyond a favourite tag. Indeed it’s a combination of team quality, tournament experience, proactive technical bench and discipline, all interwoven with proper planning, and of course, a little bit of good old luck. Luck counts, especially with injuries. History favours European and South American countries with African and Asian representatives giving them a good run for their money. It can hardly be anything else now.