Hank Steinbrecher was on a bullet train from Marseille to Paris when he got a call from the White House. “We are going to win this game, aren’t we?” the voice on the other side asked Steinbrecher, then US Soccer Federation’s general secretary. It was 1998. “The news is going around the world.” Mohammad Khakpour, too, received a call; not from a high-ranking government official but from the family members of those who had lost their children in the war between Iran and Iraq. “Fathers, mothers called and said this game really does matter to us,” the former Iran defender says in the BBC documentary, ‘The Great Game’. “You have to go and win this game for us.” On paper, it was merely a group-stage match of the World Cup between two teams that had lost their opening matches. But a meeting between two nations who had severed diplomatic relations in 1980 was always going to be much more than a mere game of football. (READ MORE)
Ecuador captain Enner Valencia showed incredible calmness while converting the penalty in the 16th minute during the World Cup opener against Qatar at the Al Bayt on Sunday. He scored his – and Ecuador’s – second 10 minutes later and could’ve had a first-half hat-trick but for a disallowed goal in the third minute.
While on the field the 33-year-old forward has always given an impression being of a man in control of what he’s doing, his life outside football has often been chaotic.
Most (in)famously, he was once chased by police while being carried off the field during Ecuador’s 3-0 win over Chile in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match in Quito. Some reports suggest he faked an injury to avoid being arrested but the video footage of the incident shows Valencia, who played for Premier League side Everton back then, had an oxygen mask put over his face as he was taken to the touchline on a buggy when he was pursued by police officers. (Read More)
Out of the 32 teams, three have qualified for the Round of 16, two have been eliminated while the remaining 27 are still in contention. As the final round of group-stage matches gets underway later on Tuesday, there could be a scenario where two or more teams finish level on points. In such a scenario, FIFA’s rules are well laid out.
According to the governing body’s guidelines for the World Cup, there are various criteria to determine which team will progress into the knockout rounds. (READ MORE)