THE 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is coming to an end soon.Soccer fans have relished the tournament, which has brought out new developments in the beautiful game: there are no favourites and no home ground advantage any more.
The 12th player did not help Russia.
So, as we look to Qatar 2022, the media should stop rating teams as hot or strong favourites because Russia 2018 has invalidated such assertions.
Of course, the 32 teams were not at the same level.
But strangely the so-called favourites on paper turned out to be normal teams on the ground. If in doubt, ask Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain. Even the FIFA ratings are now questionable.
The five African representatives left at the group stage partly because they did more of defending than attacking. And when they did attack, the usual greed (‘strikers trying to make a name’) in front of goal cost them victories. As long as Africa ignores youth football, winning the World Cup will remain a dream. We shall continue to fill up numbers.
As for the representatives of Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay – their usual system of slow build up and then explode when finishing proved costly when counter-attacked. They need to adjust their system.
So, the 2018 World Cup has now remained a European affair, thanks to the attacking football played by most European leagues and their huge investment in youth football.
Those kids you see escorting players onto the pitch are future stars.
Finally, contrary to some critics, the video assistant referee (VAR) is welcome innovation and it should stay because it has reduced disputes.
The slight delay caused by VAR should be tolerated because at the end there is fair play. However, a yellow card should be flashed to a player who gives the VAR signal to the referee.