The 2022 version of World Cup in footballing held in Qatar has ended, but surges and eddies in fields of play have left some debris like a flood after receding.
Many football lovers made forecasts; some consulted their crystal balls, others depended on Ouija board, for direction to the winner of the coveted trophy. At the end of the day, Europe locked horns with Latin America in a two-hour pulsating and excruciating artistry of soccer.
Thirty-two countries started the journey. Gradually, the number started to whittle down as the battle got hotter. There were flashes of upsets, thereby invalidating permutations made by football pundits. Some footballing giants were humiliated and dwarfed by Lilliputian opponents, and setting new World Cup records.
Two North African, and one Central African countries gave a good account of African football. As the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon humbled Mighty Brazil, so were France, the defending champions stunned by Tunisia.
Also, the Atlas Lions of Morocco became the first African country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup after defeating Spain, 2010 winners, and former European Champions, Portugal. They ended up taking the fourth position of the tournament.
Eventually, the stage was set for France and Argentina. Two names: Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi were very prominent. From the outset, Argentina was in business-like alacrity, with Di Maria terrorising at the flanks. Their industry was rewarded with two goals in no long time.
It is my opinion that the Argentine manager committed an expensive blunder by replacing Di Maria who was actually enterprising, in perfect combination with Messi. Perhaps, he thought the game had been won, and the remaining time of play was for mere formality. He deemed it to be over when it was not yet over.
Kylian Mbappe rose to the occasion and brought the score to parity. Then there was panic in the Argentine squad. Blood pressure of officials and players on bench went high until a third goal was scored. This was the spark that ignited the zeal of Mbappe and his mates to play soccer of the century at the dying part of the game.
The one goal advantage was short lived as Mbappe again crashed the hope of the Argentines through a spot kick. Extra time produced no difference, which culminated to penalty shootouts. While France wasted their kicks, Argentina converted theirs, and carted the trophy home.
It was a tension soaked encounter. I doff my hat for Mbappe who won the golden boot as the highest scorer of the tournament, while Messi got the golden ball. The Argentine goalkeeper should be commended for vital saves he made. He got the golden glove.
Lesson of Qatar 2022 World Cup is never to count anyone fortunate until you see his end. Football is like a life situation. Anything can happen at anytime, having cognizance to the vicissitudes of life. This is a moral lesson for everyone, not only for the South American coach.