World Cup fever

 

As the 21st World Cup kicks off this evening in Moscow, Russia, the local football fraternity has not been left out from the biggest football festival’s frenzy.

There are mixed views on which team will carry the day after four weeks of pulsating action, but Germany, Argentina. Brazil and Spain stand out.

Africa’s flag-carriers: Senegal’s Sadio Mane (L) and Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi

Malawi national football team coach Ronny Van Geneugden (RVG) said the three teams have high chances of winning the cup because of their strong squads.

He said: “Winning the World Cup has always been for big teams such as Brazil, Argentina, Spain and especially, Germany, who have very strong squads.”

But Lilongwe-based seasoned journalist Thom Khanje felt Belgium, France and Senegal can also make the list.

“I don’t go for giants. I like seeing the so-called underdogs conquering big teams,” he said.

However, RVG gave his home country Belgium an outside chance of winning the World Cup.

“My country, Belgium, is one of the outsiders. They have best players individually, but let’s hope now they can play as a team.”

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) competitions manager Gomezagni Zakazaka also said Germany are the favourites.

“I will go for Germany to become the only third team after Italy and Brazil to defend the championship. Germany have shown great consistency at major tournaments over the past 16 years. Since their Euro 2000 humiliation when they were knocked out in the group stages without a single win, the Germans went into a rebuilding exercise which is producing young talented players year in and out.”

But Blantyre-based Aujinger Munkhondia felt most German players are past their prime.

He said: “This year Brazil will win the title. They have a good side and hunger to win. Neymar will for sure give defenders a headache together with Jesus.

“Spain still possess some danger as they have a balanced and experienced team. Germany is okay, but it’s made up of players that are now tired having played for so many years.”

Very few gave England a chance of impressing at the tournament.

But UK-based George Mindano said this would not stop him from supporting his favourite team—the Three Lions.

“It has always been England since Euro ’96. I haven’t wavered since,” he said.

So far Africa’s representatives—Egypt, Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal—have not received much benefit of doubt.

But RVG said Nigeria and Morocco can pull a surprise.

The best that an African country has gone was in 2010 when Ghana reached South Africa 2010 World Cup quarter-final.

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