Tuesday, Jan 31 2023 | Time 23:05 Hrs(IST)
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Sports


Group stage battles at World Cup show no team is minnow

Group stage battles at World Cup show no team is minnow

By BD Naraayannkar
Doha, Dec 3 (UNI) The scenario in global football is changing. And that is what is being witnessed in this year's FIFA World Cup underway in Qatar. The traditional strong teams can no longer sit pretty while taking on Asian and African sides, anymore.
As many as 27 of the 32 teams in Qatar were able to register at least one victory in group matches. And this has been the story that has been inked so far by the Asian and African players, who have gotten their skills sharpened by rubbing shoulders with superstars while playing for top leagues around the world.
Even their domestic competitions have played a big role in this regard as these tournaments attract experienced international players and coaches, who work devotedly for the betterment of players.
To back this incredible story, the group stages threw plenty of surprises, beginning with Saudi Arabia's convincing win over Argentina and moving forward with Japan's victories over Spain and Germany and Morocco's against Denmark, besides South Korea thrashing Portugal and Cameroon clinching the first-ever African success over Brazil and Australia reaching the last 16.
While South Korea, Japan and Australia will represent Asia, Senegal and Morocco will epitomise the African pride in the knockout stages.
However, glasses should also be raised in salute to those teams who have not qualified for the last 16, but have left behind their inspirational footprints at the World Cup. The victories of Tunisia and Cameroon, are no mean achievements but historic. Likewise, Iran and Saudi Arabia's performances should also make anybody happy.
In the process, some big teams have fallen by the wayside, with Denmark, Germany and Belgium among European heavyweights not qualifying for the knockouts, while Uruguay and Mexico failed to do so.
Also, no side has stormed into the last 16 by winning all three of their group matches. France, Portugal and Brazil lost their final match, with France losing to Tunisia, while Portugal and Brazil failing to South Korea and Cameroon, respectively.
Also, no team had 100 percent victories. Only England, Netherlands, Morocco, Croatia and the USA remained unbeaten, with the first three qualifying with two wins and a draw, while Croatia and the USA went through with a win and two draws.
On the flipside, only two teams, Canada and Qatar, lost their three group matches, with Canada losing two of their matches by a solitary goal.
Meanwhile only Serbia, Canada, Qatar, Denmark and Wales failed to win a game.
All of this seems to be reaching a point in history that no result can be treated as a major surprise, because if surprises happen frequently, they become the norm.
UNI BDN SHK1919

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