Uncle Bob Kandetu
The world football fraternity is shocked to its feet by some of the developments in Russia and if millions of the citizens of the world were not watching the tournament match after match, the state of Russia would by now be suspected of tempering, because the renowned big guns, the likes of Germany, Portugal, Spain and others have been forced to exit the tournament. In fact, the champions, Germany, accounted for the biggest surprise because they showed signs of limping already in their opening match, nogal, against Mexico.
A total of thirty-two teams from around the world descended on Russia for the FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament. To date six are through to the elimination stage and are poised for the quarterfinals, while another four are still to battle it out so that the two winners would join the six for the quarterfinals. Latter competition took place on Tuesday, but by the time of going to print, the results were not out yet.
This year was very difficult for the regularly obvious big names. Among those who crashed out are the current champions Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal. Mexico, the team that accounted for the surprise against Germany in their opening match had to later join them on the grand stand when they bowed to Brazil in a convincing win of 2 goals to zero.
On Tuesday, Switzerland took on Sweden while Brazil and Belgium battled it out for the other team to join the top eight of the tournament. Brazil Stars are showing good form that qualifies them to be theoretical favourites of the tournament, although they are not always predictable. And, I must confess, that my money has always been on the Stars, although they have the capacity to, like Germany, disappoint big time. In all fairness, Germany has been on the balance of probabilities, the most consistent team, as they had conceded fewer friendly games than many teams in the preparation stages and in addition to the fact that they are the reigning champions.
In the last FIFA World Cup tournament that was played in Brazil, latter were eliminated by Germany in the semifinals with a prohibitive score margin. I have been following them during their preparation friendly matches and my friend Thomas Ihuhua and I were already contemplating to go to the finals in Russia. But the shadow of the Germans kept hovering over us and in the end, we decided to do other things.
It was a nightmare for Thomas and me when we watched the semifinal encounter between Germany and Brazil Stars during the last FIFA tournament. With the exception of the final against France several years before, Brazil Stars had never been humiliated in that fashion in a world cup competition. When the curtain opened in the said match, Thomas was concerned about the gap that had been left by Neymar Junior and Silva, who were respectively nursing a serious injury and serving a suspension. The Germans stormed the stage and after the first ten minutes, I telephoned Thomas and when he did not answer the phone, I knew that he was not able to. It was our longest evening watching Brazil Stars. Around the tenth minute the Germans opened their scorecard and they refused to stop.
There was this mischievous commentator and I wished he could be removed from the television program. When Germany registered their third goal, Scholari, Brazil’s head coach, swiftly looked in the ditch behind him and the mischievous commentator said: “Scholari is looking for a place to hide” When Scholari prepared for a substitute, again the mischievous commentator said “Scholari is fielding someone who can at least score five goals before halftime so that the Brazilians can reorganise their strategy at the break”.
At half time I telephoned my friend Thomas in order to lend him a shoulder to cry on. Thomas answered the phone with the words: “Ami Mbakarara Mbuae”. (I went to sleep).
It was the most frustrating experience and as we contemplated to travel to Moscow, we were psychologically battling with this semifinal defeat as backdrop.
FIFA World Cup 2018 has accounted for a number of challenges. Even more, the tournament has brought to light one harsh reality and that is, in this world populated by dynamic humans there can never be absolute positions and we can assume situations only at our peril. The big guns are eliminated and chances are that more surprises are yet to come.