Welcome to Qatar? Flashback

The Story, Anecdotes Qatar 2022

Welcome to Qatar and the pre-tournament speech from the FIFA president Giovanni Infantino, the FIFA badge, fibres incorporated, fibres associated. Infantino’s submerging of the Qatar logic comparing his childhood experiences with a veiled curtain to the disabled, the gay community and the World Cup construction migrant workers quote Infantino “During my childhood years I was a red headed freckled Italian boy who got bullied”. The Manero add on ‘and became the monster I am today’. The Italian’s full quote time will not be written here, it is rather sickening.

The snake has crept his way to an extended gold plated lifestyle in Qatar, welcome home, the strand of hair fits, brothers in arms, bro, time for one’s call to prayer, restless nights, they put the s__ts up the dogs, they do a runner, Infantino? Howl. No surprises here Cilla, the Qataris are pulling a late night plug on the selling of the Budweiser at the match day stadiums, have a Bud bud, not here bud. Twelve pounds a pint at the so called festival tents, bloody robbery, it’s got to be better than water, bloody hot here, is this winter? Where’s Mannering, no that’s Dad’s Army, bloody Dad’s Army here. The Royal family, very nice, to pull the plug on FIFA’s media busting money driven Budweiser deal, all down the plug hole, slush away. The beer, broken promises, surprise, surprise, Cilla.

Where’s the supporter’s accommodation, welcome to Portacabin City, all housed in those endless roads of sand, all the mod cons, two sachets of coffee, even a shower and toilet, but no television, who needs Gary Lineker. Don’t pull the hamstring, it’s so cramped I cannot stretch a leg, bloody hell, where’s the construction helmet, but I am here for the World Cup? £185 a night, cheap as chips, where’s the sauce, don’t put the air conditioning unit on, sounds like a fighter jet, dive for cover, reach for the sky, give me a flying balloon, I’m out of here, no pin popping, thank you.

It’s the 20th November, first match up Qatar v Ecuador, very appetising it has to be Match of the Day for Gary Lineker, who is to report, yes we know Gary, pull that conscience string, kaput. Memo sent to Gary, you are on planet Mars, the air is rarefied, bright and shimmering tower lights, space ships? The Martians are friendly, no time for rest and play, suck on that Mars bar, the blown to oblivion mindset, reporting is the cause, football? In denial? Of course the pay packet will suffice.

Onto England’s first match v Iran and a 6-2 victory, a brace from Saka with Bellingham Stirling, Rashford and Jack Grealish adding to the goal feast. Of note the Iranians looked lively when in deep attacking play and did cause areas of concern in the England defence. The teams defensive duties need to be more solidified. Jude Bellingham looked a cut above the rest, a breath of fresh air, time to breeze into the next match up, the USA.

Same team, same tactic as in the Iran match with the Americans anticipating Southgate’s thought process, the result, nil to nil as both teams blanked each other out, a long snooze fest. The much maligned Harry Maguire came out with the star spangled stipes, last ditch head clearances became Harry’s Forte, but the USA carved out two chances in the first half, blazing over the bar from seven yards and titled Mr American Christian Pulisic with a rattling of the English cross bar. Two muted chances fell the way of Kane and Mount but to no avail. The second half mirror imaged the first half, no chances were carved out by England with the USA threatening the English goal, but without any manipulation of the ball to score. The match was crying out for substitute Phil Foden to make an entrance, surely a better fit than Mason Mount. It’s all about reaching the knock out stage with both countries content with the draw, the beleaguered Wales await England.

Changes for England in the final group match v Wales, enter Foden, Henderson, Rashford and Kyle Walker, the ineffective Stirling, Mount, Saka and Trippier out. The Three Lions started the match with a hight rate of seventy percent possession result with a chance going begging on 26 minutes with Rashford being denied by keeper Danny Ward. Gareth Bale’s dismal swan song was highlighted with a paltry eight touches during the first forty minutes, Bale failed to appear for the second half, falsification on a hamstring injury. Into the second half and England upped the ante with a Rashford free kick on 50 minutes providing the opening goal, a second England goal from Phil Foden within a minute on 51 minutes slotting home from five yards on receiving a pass from Harry Kane. On 68 minutes a second Rashford goal sealed a last sixteen Berth v Senegal.

On team selection v the Africans, Gareth Southgate replaced the two goal Salvo man Rashford with Saka, a dubious decision for the masses, Foden and Henderson were selected who seem to be the rock of England’s foundations alongside the super talented Jude Bellingham.

In the early stages the Senegalese restricted the Three Lions attacking intentions, zeroed out. Two clear cut chances came the way of Senegal before England could cut the mustard, with the goal gaping and only five years out, Ismala Saar construed to blaze the ball over the bar. The second clear chance came the way of Dia whose cross shot was miraculously saved by Pickford who kept his left arm at mid air flight in anticipation of the ball, instinct, a sixth sense, a world class save. This period was disconcerting for England, but the African nations are not consistent with tactics, and to solidify. So it transpired with England ripping through the Senegal defence on 38 and 45 minutes with Henderson and Harry Kane dispatching. As green as their shirts, the Senegalese revealed their match play management naivety, dropped their guard, neglected their early doors marking and subsequently England blitzed away on two breath taking counter attacks initiated by the supreme Jude Bellingham, England carved out a third goal on 57 minutes with Saka justifying his selection, match result three to nil England and into the quarter finals v the reigning champions Les Bleus (The Blues) France.

England crashed out 2-1 to reigning champions France with Harry Kane blasting a second penalty awarded to England over the bar on eighty four minutes to equalize. A penalty should have been awarded in the first half when Kane is sent sprawling to the ground on 25 minutes. The defender’s arm impedes Kane causing obstruction, to doubt the awarding of a penalty on the thought process that in the main referees do not understand the fundamentals of the challenge, hence the no penalty decision.

A snapshot from outside the penalty area gave France the lead on 17 minutes, Tchouaméni got lucky on the shot with the ball arrowing between Jude Bellingham’s legs into Pickford’s bottom righthand corner. Into the second half with Saka being fouled on 54 minutes resulting in a penalty, Kane dispatched with his customary penalty, into the goalkeepers right side with power, accuracy and mid flight projectory. France responded with England not heeding the Giroud threat whose body angle on a close range shot was not sufficiently open gated to direct the ball with power either side of Pickford. On 78 minutes another France cross came England’s way, Harry Maguire was caught napping in a side on position to Giroud who came across Maguire to despatch a powerful header into the net, defenders must always look to remain goal side the cardinal sin not to. The Three Lions came roaring back and on 84 minutes substitute Mason Mount was blatantly pushed to the ground. On the approach to Harry Kane’s second penalty, Kane’s positional stance was too straight on the approach to the ball with a short run up, the player will then lose the required control on striking the ball, which can fly high, confirmed, Kane blasted over the bar, exit England, the 2022 World Cup, to suggest that the pressure threw Kane off his normal routine penalty. England performed to a high standard in the tournament but again fell short, has Gareth Southgate taken England as far as he can? That’s for later, a return to the second half of the Premiership season has beckoned, football’s come home.