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2018 World Cup worth remembering

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Added 12th July 2018 08:26 PM

It was a thriller packed with surprises. To put it simply, there seemed to be no giants.

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It was a thriller packed with surprises. To put it simply, there seemed to be no giants.

PIC:Roman Zobnin of Russia and Mario Fernandes in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Uruguay and Russia at Samara Arena on June 25, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (AFP)


By Patrick Kabuye

KAMPALA - I have always regarded Italia 1990 as the most memorable World Cup. You have certainly not forgotten Roger Milla and his age defying antics.

Then of course you had the mercurial Maradona lifting Argentina to the final. Then you had that controversial German penalty that had them emerge champions.

However, the 2018 tournament has also proved to be one of my most memorable tournaments.

It was a thriller packed with surprises. To put it simply, there seemed to be no giants.

Defending champions Germany, together with other tournament favourites like Brazil and Argentina were some of those shown the early exit.

In the just concluded semi-final Belgium was added to the tournament shocks. They started off their encounter strongly with the Les Bleus on the back pedal.

But despite this edge that had the Red Devils enjoying a 64% possession advantage, it was the French who had the last laugh.

The French utilised their efficiency in keeping a sound shape while defusing the dexterity of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.

At the end of it all, the set piece factor again determined the game. Keeping in mind that at the time 44% (69/158) of the goals had been scored through set pieces had been converted from dead ball situations.

Next was the England versus Croatia clash. There was a lot of hype for England. “The World Cup is Coming home” slogan constantly sounded.

Little did England’s noisy supporters know that they were in for a harsh reality check. For starters a close look at Croatia revealed that Croatia were a much better team.

Croatia was brimming with European champions league pedigree. They have  Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric, Ivan Persic, Mateo Kovacic who share nine UEFA winners medals.

It was therefore vividly clear that Croatia were more experienced than the three lions.

Nonetheless, having played two extra time games, you have expected to see a tired Croatia. But this was not a Croatia you were about to see.

Then England also just couldn’t play the perceived exhaustion in their favour. That said, England failed to capitalize on this, as a result Croatia prevailed.

In Sunday’s final, expect Croatia to slow down the game like they did against England. Needless to say, Croatia will be playing on tired legs.

They have played three tough extra time games. This will be the pitfall of their success.

On the other hand should Didier Deschamps’ troop get their way and determine the pace, then Croatia could be in for some trouble. The two styles aside, expect a thrilling final.

The 26.0 verses 27.6 average age difference plays more into France' favor. This battle of youth versus experience will thus favour the former (France).

Then the Les Bleus’ pedigree will also be a huge advantage. Croatia’s best moment at the quadrennial event came in 1998 when they finished third.

France won the title at the same tournament. Talking of experience, it is also just recently when the Frenchmen reached the Euro final.

The Author is a former KCC FC and under 17-23 International Ugandan player. Attended a Uefa "A" License in Wales, graduate of USSF soccer school and Strategic leadership course at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, USA.


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