Outstanding And Spectacular FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022: A Summary
It was the Messi-ah moment. The one Lionel Messi will not forget for the rest of his life as he lifted the elusive World Cup with his teammates after the pulsating final against France in the iconic Lusail stadium, Doha on December 18. For the 35 year-old Argentine, it was the last roll of the dice, as he had announced his retirement before the start of the 45-day extravaganza. With the World Cup triumph, Messi proved that he is one of the greatest stars of all time. He has the unique record of being the only player to win the Olympic Gold medal, World Cup and Copa America—something which a Maradona or Pele don’t have in their silverware.
The Argentina-France final proved to be the greatest final in the history of the FIFA World Cup. If the South Americans had Messi, the defending champions France had Kylan Mbappe, one of the greatest midfielders. It could not have been a greater contrast—the maestro, short and dimunitive versus the 24-year-old well-built and tall Frenchman. What was even more striking was the fact that the Frenchman seemed to have the uncanny ability to score almost at will.
Argentina dominated for most part of the regulation period and scored goals through Messi and Di Maria. Apart from this, they had completely bottled up France as the latter could not even manage a single shot at their rival’s goal, as compared to Argentina, who had eight shots. With the clock showing the 70th minute, it looked as though Argentina‘s 36-year wait for the Cup would be nearing an end.
But then things changed dramatically—little wonder why football is called the “beautiful game.” The genius of Kylan Mbape came to the fore as the Frenchman scored twice in the space of two minutes to shift the momentum back to the French. Both teams came close to scoring again as regulation time ended and extra time got underway.
Once again, Lionel Messi’s magic put Argentina ahead, and with five minutes remaining, it appeared the South Americans would take the cup. There was a final twist—and Mbappe scored a penalty to make it 3-3, and once again the 40,000 or so Argentine fans were silenced. In the ensuing penalty shootout, Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero as they prevailed 4-2 to become the world champions. As Messi was the cynosure of all eyes, he went to the extent of saying that he had decided to play a few more times for Argentina—such was the impact of the win.
Some would call it poetic justice that while Messi got the Golden Ball award for the best player with seven goals, Mbappe got the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals (8).
Morocco steals the hearts
Argentina may have the Cup, but it was the Moroccans who stole the show with an incredible performance that saw them become the first Arab country to reach the World Cup semi-finals. Their fairy tale novella continued after they defeated the likes of Belgium (World No. 2), Spain (No. 7), and Portugal (No. 9) on their way to the semis. It was France who stopped their dream run in the semi-finals. In fact, in the group games, the only goal Morocco conceded was a self-goal against Croatia. Their tall goalkeeper, Younes Bouno, rose to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world overnight. Another youngster who equally impressed was midfielder Azzedine Ounahi.
The Moroccans enjoyed the full support of the Qatari and Arab crowd, thus showing that football was a great instrument to unite the various peoples of the world. The vociferous support the Moroccans got was simply something that had to be seen to be believed. In no time, they were being touted as the dark horses to win the tournament. Morocco narrowly missed third place when Croatia edged them 2-1. The Moroccans have ensured their place in the annals of sporting folklore with their inspired performance.
This World Cup witnessed the highest number of goals ever recorded in any edition since its inception in 1936. A total of 172 goals were scored, which happened to be the most ever in a World Cup.
To summarize, it was a historic moment for hosts Qatar, which became the first Arab nation to host a FIFA World Cup, and it did so with some mind-blowing indoor AC technology that will serve as a model for other countries.