Messi deserved WC win; Mbappe accepted defeat with grace

Qatar 2022 was all about the highs and lows of football that nonetheless brought football fans together to experience a new culture
Messi played with his usual brilliance, and Mbappe left the stage with his head held high.
Messi played with his usual brilliance, and Mbappe left the stage with his head held high.Gomantak Times

Augusto Rodrigues

Argentina wore the crown of world football champions on a night football reminded everyone that the beauty of the game cannot be obscured by controversy and that its bond with human emotion is infallible.

Football is unpredictable when it is played at the highest levels, by players of the highest calibre, and that one individual is not enough to decide who wears the crown. Luck is an important component that cannot be scrutinised effectively.

Argentina started as favourites because the world desired to see Messi lift the World Cup before he hung up his boots (although Messi has now decided to play on as World Cup champion), while those schooled in the nuances of the game expected France to win because of Kylian Mbappe. Both estimated astutely, but luck had the last laugh.

What appeared to be ending as a mediocre World Cup with a lacklustre final match saw a turnabout that left fans on pins and needles. France scored the first goal, and the rest is history, as they say. The question that, however, remains unanswered is why Giroud, Griezman and Di Maria were substituted so early.

Messi played with his usual brilliance. Mbappe left the stage with his head held high, a worthy loser who will one day take on the mantle that Messi still holds as a World Cup champion.

Qatar 2022 has been one of the most unpredictable World Cup tournaments with twists and turns that could not possibly have been foreseen. But then unpredictability is the hallmark of sporting tournaments.

The bounce of the ball is unpredictable – it cannot be fathomed. What is predictable about the World Cup is its ability to bring people together, despite the change in the host country and culture.

As the focus shifts from 2022 in Qatar to 2026 in sixteen cities in three North American countries – Canada, Mexico and the United States – football has managed to give the world a clear perspective of Qatar, the country and its people.

The no-sale of alcohol in stadiums will not be forgotten along with the personal safety experienced by football fans from all over the world. The lack of alcohol soured things for the fans until the hosts showed how it played a role in maintaining the safety and security of the fans.

Hundreds of football lovers from Goa were able to attend the World Cup because of the country's proximity and the number of Goans living in Qatar. The organisation was flawless; the food was savoured and the arrangements for the guests were top-notch.

Apart from treating fans as guests, the World Cup was one that threw in many surprises with players from the continent of Africa ruling the roost. Asia, too, was seen to be contributing able football teams.

Japan started the march forward through the Brazilian Zico, and the Gulf countries have shown that they cannot be ignored for too long. African nations are proving that talent has supremacy over weak financial backing.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is over, and the world has a new champion in Argentina. Leaving behind Messi and Mbappe, who shone in their performance, we have a new World Cup to look forward to. See you in 2026!

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