Dec 18 : France Vs Argentina Mesmerising WC

It has been a roller coaster ride, but then this is nothing new to the FIFA World Cup. Come December 18 and while all eyes will naturally be on Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, shouldn’t it be the team that comes first ? Or the country they represent for decades later the question could more be like how many Football World Cups have either Argentina or France won ? This observation is made in the backdrop of the fact that while everyone seems to know that Uruguay lifted the first World Cup in 1930 and again 1950 and that France won it too in 1998 and again in 2018, there could be many who would find it difficult to answer the question who were the scorers of the winning goals with the snap of the finger. But then again would football really live up to the name of the ‘Beautiful Game’, to quote Pele, without the brilliance exhibited by some of the players on the field ? A team game it is, but then who remembers the whole team, except for the few gifted, talented football heroes who emerge after every World Cup. There is no such debate on this subject at the moment, but the reality is, in as much as one identifies the game of football as a team work, one cannot help but sing paeans to the heroics of some of the gifted players out there on the field. It also stands that the 2022 World Cup has thrown up some interesting points which may or not be remembered down the years, but who would have thought that footballing minnows (as all Asian Nations are generally) Japan would top Group E-a group that included former champions Germany and Spain ! Or better still, that Morocco an African Nation would proceed up to the semi-final stage only to be stopped by France. This is not the first time that Morocco has sprung such a pleasant surprise at the World Cup, as old timers will recall, it was back in 1986 that they became the first Nation from Africa to proceed to the second round ! Go back to the 2002 World Cup and one can still recall when South Korea made all their way to the last four stage. Giving a more rounded and appealing view to the understanding of the ‘Beautiful Game’.
As in the past editions of the FIFA World Cup, Manipur too has been bitten by the football bug with fans and supporters of some of the big names coming out in ‘full public support’ of the team of their choice. It was in line with this that Chief Minister N Biren himself personally arranged a huge TV screen and invited all fans to come and watch live the semi-final match between Argentina and Croatia at Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre on December 14. An accomplished football player himself, the Chief Minister understood the public mood and chipped in his bit to add to the football fever that has caught Manipur. So even as the world has to wait till December 18 to know who is the next World Champion, Argentina and France must be gripped with the question, ‘Will this be the third time for us ?’ A question which will grip all the football fans across the world and Manipur too. Fans of Lionel Messi, and there are many if one goes by the shares and statuses on Facebook and other social media, will also be seized by the question, ‘what if Messi misses out time too ? Will it make his standing as a footballer any lesser ?’ A question which only the days after December 18 can tell, but remember standing at the opposite end is Mbappe, who has already lifted the World Cup. The final will be a treat for all and not only fans who have been eating, drinking and sleeping football, ever since Messi, Mbappe and others started mesmerising the world with their deft footwork and fleeting runs down the flanks since November 20 this year at Qatar.