FWF-181018

I am not 100% sure exactly what it is I should be doing. 

After the World Cup Final early Monday morning and some well-earned rest and recuperation as the dust settled on a month of drama charged football, Tuesday morning felt a little strange.

I even made a list. 

With a spot of gardening on the agenda, a gas bottle requiring a refill and the ever enjoyable preparation of invoices, receipts and other tax papers to attack, my morning was full. Other than that, something appears to be missing.

The blur of the past month has passed and some sense of normality in lifestyle and sleep will return to the lives of millions of Australians. In a time zone sense, Australia experiences the World Cup in quite a bizarre way yet Australian football fans still found the means to cram in over one hundred hours of play.

Now it is done. The French have ridden off into the sunset with the trophy in tow and Croatia are lamenting the missed opportunity.

Belgians will be scratching their heads wondering where to go to from here. Their ‘golden generation’ is darn good yet was not good enough in Russia. 

The English are still in hiding. Not due to their performance mind you; they were excellent, vastly improved, and show real signs of being a considerable threat in major tournaments over the next decade. 

However, the Poms might be a little on the quiet side after having crowed a little early with the rather silly ‘it’s coming home’. It surely would have been better placed and more compelling had they actually made the final.

Uruguayan sentiment will be mixed; knowing that any quarter-final result in a World Cup is a wonderful achievement but also longing for a third title to complete the rebuild that has occurred over the last 30 years.

Personally, I think Sweden should be chuffed with their effort. Playing a stodgy and patient game reliant on a defensive wall and opportunistic moments up front, it would be fair to suggest they over-achieved.

The Brazilian fallout will be significant. Their football lacked inspiration, aside from a few explosive moments where escapes were conjured. As a football tournament and public relations exercise Russia 2018 was an out and out failure for Seleção

Experiencing a World Cup drought similar to the 70s and 80s, Brazil’s lack of success will have fans livid, administrators searching for answers and heads rolling. Some will feel a degree of sympathy - but I will not be one of them.

As I wrote prior to the tournament, seeing new contenders reflective of the ever narrowing gap between the perceived powerhouses and the next tier of nations is a positive thing for world football.

Russia itself will be collectively scratching its head wondering if it was ever really a chance to win the World Cup or whether it was all a dream. They were inspirational and resilient and only beaten by an eventual finalist at the quarter-final stage. 

Whilst the challenge of emotionally lifting myself from the ashes in the days after the climactic final might be real, one can only imagine the monolithic hangover and sense of loss that Russian fans must be experiencing right now.

Continentally, Europe will feel affirmed as the current dominant player in world football after providing ten countries to the round of 16 action. South America promised far more than they delivered and Africa once again failed to live up to the eternal hype and hope. It appeared likely that with the individual talent available and improvements in coaching and development through the 80s and 90s that they would one day achieve sustained success on the world stage. Sadly, African teams remain nearer base camp than World Cup glory.

Ironically, players of African heritage feature significantly in many teams and much media has already centred on France as a prime example. Without entering into the politics of that scenario, it does reflect structural, financial and administrative issues within African nations rather than the quality of players.

More locally, Asia will feel proud of the Japanese and their stunning exit whilst on the brink of the quarter-finals. However, there was little joy elsewhere and despite a competitive and brave Socceroos effort of which the nation was proud, Australian fans aren’t dancing in the streets.

The global hangover will last for a few days no doubt yet already, minds have shifted to new Premier League, Serie A and La Liga seasons and Australian media is in a frenzy over the pending arrival of Usain Bolt for a trial with the Central Coast Mariners.

It was brilliant while it lasted and, as always, deflating when it comes to an end. However, as is eternally the case with football, there is always a tomorrow and a new challenge directly ahead.


Categories: Opinion | Football Life | World Cup

2018 world cup, #russia2018, socceroos

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