Soccer success isn’t all about creating many scoring chances. That’s not the case absolutely. And don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to submit that creating scoring chances in football isn’t an ideal thing to do. But rather, my submission is that creating chances will count for nothing if those chances aren’t turned into goals ultimately.
Take the immediately outgoing England-France World Cup semifinal duel as an instructive example. The English Sunday created far too many chances than their French rivals during that battle of the Titans. No prizes for arguing. We all saw this. Hence, we can all testify positively to this fact. Fearing he was going to torment their defenses, the English decided to put the French’s mega star, Kylian Mbappe under lock and key.
Save for a very limited number of creative passing, Mbappe would spend long spells of the proceedings cutting the figure of a man out on leave. Such scene of idleness was a far cry from the likes of Bukayo Sakas who spent a great deal of time entertaining themselves with relish. Oddly, the English would on many occasions, during that match come within the touching distance of the ultimate prize itself.
But, strangely, only for them to fail to go ahead and grab the prize which was there begging gazing at them. To state that the French were perfectly caged by the English would be to admit failure to find the best adjective to use to illustrate clearly how exactly the French were caged by the English. But amazingly, amidst such kind of suffocating caging, the French would land merely just only about five minutes and which they went ahead superbly converted home.
The hit having been landed by the French; it would end up leaving the hitherto English entertainers wonderingly pondering about what kind of thunder had hit them. Trust the English and their media, they have since resorted to blaming nearly everyone else but their own lack of precision in front of the goal mouth, their lack of maturity, plus their naivety. The gods of football had presented far better chances to the English than the French. All the same, the English would fail to use those chances to kill off the French.
They would instead allow those chances to go away begging without putting them home. After squandering their open chances, the English are now there frantically making noise about how the Brazilian Referee should have awarded them about two to three spot kicks. This posture, as if they seem to forget about the spot kick the Brazilian official handed them in the dying minutes of the contest, moreover.
But other than using the same spot kick to force the match into extra time and then use that time to kill off the French, the English would end up putting such a God-sent chance to waste. Overhyped by the English media as King Harry, the lanky penalty taker would ridiculously throw the chance away. Not only that, but even together with another one of breaking Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record. The lad kicked the ball into the sky as opposed to putting it behind the net. Imagine!
A David Beckham seated in the VVIP with his head held in his hands following this moment of madness, must have been served as enough evidence to demonstrate the kind of shame and hurt this loss could have wrought on the English. Yet Harry cannot be hanged alone when it comes to this guilt of penalty taking failure. His own manager, Gareth Bale is on record doing the same during one of the past World Cup editions.
Gareth’s penalty was a decisive one. But the English’s current manager also kicked it wild. Oops! And England hence ended up dropping out of the contest. Spot kicks are turning into kind of stubborn monkeys seemingly enjoying rides on the backs of the English. Penalties have seen the English crushing out World Cup previously. This was at the hands of the Germans plus the Italians.
As such, the earlier the English practiced and learned the art of taking the spot kicks the better. Whining upon whining over penalties which have not been awarded to them, will count for nothing if they don’t learn to take with precision the ones which they have been so lucky to be awarded. After losing the match, the English now want everyone to praise them for having played what they are hyped a beautiful kind of football.
Well, the English need to be reminded that they are now back home together with their so-called beautiful football and their so-called stunner WAGS. This pain, not forgetting that the English have been unable for decades now, to break the jinx of not going past the semifinals of this very beautiful tournament. Football punishes arrogance. The French who are said to have played ugly are comfortable as they look to add another silverware to their cabinet of World Cup trophies.
But at the same time as the wait continues for the English having last won the World Cup trophy as way back as when Uganda was four years of independence. But never mind also that it is the English themselves on record as having invented the beautiful game of soccer. Two goals by the French team were amazing pieces. The first one was a real bullet. It flew through the English’s clueless defenders before going through the legs of Bellingham and then sat behind the net.
The same had been a product of a nice piece of ball passing which involved Mbappe and the eventual match victory hatchet, Giroud. Yes, the English quarrel how the first goal was scored after one of its prayers had been tripped and lying helplessly on the ground. But refereeing mistakes are part of the game of football. Though they can be curtailed, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are avoidable.
The second goal by the French was a beauty to behold as well. Griezmann arguably the man of the match on the day, weaved a pass through the English’s defense. Giroud jumped above the defenders before stealing a powerful header which breached the rival’s goal stopper. Am reminded here, of the past refereeing error which saw legend Maradona scoring against the English with a hand at one of the past World Cup editions.
Much as it was painful, the English would dwell for far long on this one singular mistake of the moment of madness and continues to do so to date. Yet the same arguably GOAT of football would take matters in his hands again and dribble from the center of the pitch and score a memorable goal without the English scoring back any themselves. In addition to that, statistics show the English to have enjoyed a lion share of ball possessions as compared to the French.
It’s true such was the case. Just that mere ball possession without using the advantage to put the ball home has never won a match merely by itself. The French got very few chances and put those to bed. That’s what counts in football. Look here, the French are home and dry. As they wait for their match with Morocco coming soon next on the cards. To the French, the English are done and out. They can go on and talk and talk.Those interested can as well go on now and write history in regard to the past match.
But what matters to the French now, is the next match against Morocco. They are also working extra hard to be able to join Brazil as the only two countries to have successfully defended World Cup trophy. That’s worthwhile a duty than wasting precious time responding to diversionary talk. In matter of fact, the English do themselves a lot of justice by preparing well in advance for the Euro Cup due in Germany now that they have lots of time to do that after being eliminated from the World Cup.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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