Accessing the super stars, do they really matter in the World Cup?
Before the commencement of the ongoing football World Cup finals in South Africa bookmakers had tipped players such as Wayne Rooney, Ricardo Kaka, Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to do exceptionally well in the tournament.Â And in fact because of these players the countries they belong to were named among the pre-tournament favourites to win the World Cup. (Photo: Wayne Rooney)
Nearly everyone else following World football mainly the European leagues tend to agree with the bookmakers because of the wonderful performances of these players in their respective clubs. Three of them with the exception of Rooney have won the FIFA World footballer of the year award with Messi being the current holder of the award. Rooney is the current holder of the best player of the season award in the England, an award he deserves for his outstanding performance.
But do superstars really matter in the World Cup? I asked the question because none of the countries of the players mentioned are now in the race to win the World Cup. Their countries had been eliminated, some in the second stage and some in the quarter-final stage.
Let me start with Rooney, his team Englandâ€™s overall performance was never convincing even though they managed to get a narrow 1-0 victory over Slovenia after a two consecutive draws with USA and Algeria respectively to reach the last sixteen. They were massacred in the second round stage by Germany 4-1, their worst ever defeat in the World Cup history. Rooney was a flop; he didnâ€™t live up to expectation as he was a complete shadow of himself in all the England matches. He didnâ€™t even manage to do what heâ€™s known for best, scoring goals.
Rooneyâ€™s coach at Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson has defended him by saying that the expectations on him to do well were too high and he wasnâ€™t that experience enough but the next World Cup in 2014 in Brazil the Englishman is going to be super star.
Ronaldoâ€™s Portugal too exited the World Cup in the second round stage when they got beaten by Spain 1-0.Â Even though theyâ€™ve been knocked out, they still remain the team that have registered the biggest victory in the tournament so far defeating North Korea 7-0 in the group stage with Ronaldo scoring just one goal, his only goal in the World Cup. They also drew with Ivory Coast and Brazil in the group stage.Â Ronaldo despite scoring a goal, his overall performance didnâ€™t march the expectations of people; he was a shadow of himself against Spain as he was hardly seen playing with ball and at the lost at the end.
Kakaâ€™s overall performance wasnâ€™t that bad but not enough to save Brazil from crashing out in the quarter-final stage to the Netherlands. He didnâ€™t score a goal but coordinated with his team-mates to get goals that helped to defeat teams like Ivory Coast and North Korea in the group stage and Chile in the second round. He didnâ€™t play against Portugal in the second round stage due to suspension.
We didnâ€™t see that super star performance from him in their quarter-final match against the Netherlands when Brazil needed a super star to free them from the Dutch trouble. Also the Brazilians didnâ€™t beat the countries considered to be the big teams in the World Cup they met Portugal and the Netherlands.
The Argentine Messiâ€™s overall performance was above the others but still below expectations. He too didnâ€™t score a single goal in the tournament but assisted his team-mates in scoring goals particularly Higuain who accounted for four goals before they bid goodbye in the quarter-final stage. Messi has had more shots on goal than any other attacker in the tournament so far. His assisted efforts helped his team got wins over Nigeria, Greece and South Korea in the group stage and Mexico in the second round stage but didnâ€™t produce the needed super star performance to save Argentina from a disgraceful and woeful whipping from the hands of Germany losing 4-0.
Now the teams with the super stars are out and the countries such as Germany, Uruguay, Spain and Holland playing collective football as a team made it to semis and will be the four top teams of the 2010 World Cup at the end of the tournament.
Germany infact donâ€™t have super star or super stars instead super stars are emerging in their team for their role in their collective responsibilities in the World Cup. Mesut Oezil who plays his club football for Weder Bremen in the German Bundesliga is one of the emerging stars. He has had a good tournament and has been a perfect replacement for the injured Michael Ballack.
We saw an interesting semi-final match between the Netherlands and Uruguay in Cape Town last Tuesday. The match was entertaining to watch because the two teams passed the ball well, played collectively as a team. It wasnâ€™t an easy clash and at the end the Netherlands narrowly won 3-2 and progressed to the grand final for the first time since 1974 when they lost to West Germany.
I strongly believe that collectiveness is what matters in the World Cup as it brings good result and not depending on super stars to make the difference. Collectiveness should make the difference.
My former boss at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Martin Davies, now with the FIFA Onegoal project to educate children agrees with me.
He said: â€œWhat matters in a team is playing collectively as a team and it has clearly shown in this World Cup.â€
He added: â€œLook at Germany, they donâ€™t have a super star but theyâ€™ve beaten the countries with super stars England and Argentina with wide goal margin and their team is really good.â€
To further buttress Martinâ€™s point, Ghanaâ€™s Black Star are another good example of a team that played collectively well and reached the quarter-final stage without a super star. They were just unlucky to reach the semis. Their only super star Micheal Essein didnâ€™t make it to the World Cup due to injury but the team didnâ€™t feel his absence because each and every player was determined to play his collectively role well and like Germany some players have emerged as potential super stars.
Credit: Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL). Partial sponsors: Mercury International
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa
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