The biggest show on earth is finally upon us. The 2018 World Cup kicked off yesterday in Russia and a month of (hopefully) exciting soccer action lies ahead. Adam Moynihan takes you through the A to Z of this summer’s tournament.
A – Africa’s year?
In two words, probably not. Of the six African nations at this year’s tournament, Egypt (150/1 to lift the trophy) are the most likely to cause a stir, and their star player is a doubt for the group stage (see ‘S’).
B – Brazil
It wouldn’t be a World Cup without a bit of samba magic and the seleção have the players (as always) to brighten up any fixture. Can Tite’s team bounce back from their darkest hour, the shocking 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014?
C – Cristiano
They might be the reigning champions of Europe but Portugal aren’t great. Expect to see plenty of shots of an exasperated Ronaldo throwing his hands in the air/berating a flustered teammate.
D – Dark horses
No outsider has ever won a World Cup and there’s no reason to think it might happen this summer, but it’s always nice to see traditionally weaker nations over-perform. Belgium must be the most hyped up dark horse of the past decade but they will struggle to make it past the quarters. Our neighbours, maybe?
E – England
Roy Hodgson’s fledgling English side went into the last major tournament with virtually no expectations, yet somehow they still managed to make a show of themselves. Defeat to Iceland was great if you love to hate the English football team and with two of the weakest nations at the World Cup in their group (Tunisia and Panama), further embarrassment could well be on the cards.
F – Fan favourites
Ireland aren’t at the party so who should we follow for the next four weeks or so? Nigeria always seem to bring great entertainment to the World Cup, and they also have the best kit (see ‘K’), so they’re not a bad shout.
G – Goals
The art of defending is dead, if RTÉ’s senior analysts are to be believed, and the numbers from the last World Cup back actually back them up. 171 goals were scored in Brazil, which tied France ’98 for the most ever. Could the record be broken in Russia?
H – Hooligans
It’s unfortunate but it seems as though fights between rival fans are inevitable, with the English and Russians apparently at the front of the queue. One Russian politician has even called for licensed 20-a-side fights outside stadiums. (That is a real thing that a real politician said and not a headline from The Onion, by the way.)
I – Iniesta
This will be Andrés Iniesta’s last international tournament. What a story it would be if one of the greatest midfielders of all time led Spain to glory once more.
J – Jealousy
It should have been us. When images of joyous Danish fans are beamed into our living rooms tomorrow evening (they play Peru at 5pm), try not to get too jealous.
K – Kits
There will be some beauties on show in Russia, most notably Nigeria’s flashy bright green and white home shirt. I got my hands on one and will be wearing it every day from now until the end of the summer.
L – Luzhniki
The Luzhniki Stadium (capacity: 81,006) will host the 2018 World Cup Final in addition to four group ties, one last 16 game and one semi-final.
M – Messi
Is this it? Is it finally going to happen? You would need a heart of stone to not want Lionel Messi to lift his first World Cup trophy on July 15. If he leads Argentina to glory, any questions about whether or not he’s the greatest of all time will disappear forever.
N – No-hopers
There are quite a few at this particular World Cup but plucky Panama appear to be particularly ill-equipped to compete at this level. They’ve played five games in 2018 to date and scored just once.
O – Odds
Argentina at 9/1 might be worth a punt but if you’re looking for something a bit more outlandish, how about Sergio Aguero to be top scorer? The Manchester City legend is 40/1. (Or keep your money in your pocket. That’s a good tip.)
P – Penalties
No World Cup would be complete without a penalty shootout. It’s cruel on the players but great for neutrals like us. It would also be great to see another ‘P’, a Panenka.
Q – Qatar
The next World Cup is four years away but expect plenty of references to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. (Still can’t believe that’s actually happening.)
R – Racism
Russian football fans don’t have the best track record when it comes to their treatment of players of colour. Hopefully racism doesn’t rear its ugly head during the World Cup but, realistically, it could. So serious is the problem, England full-back Danny Rose has asked his family not to travel over fears they could be racially abused in Russia.
S – Salah
The English Footballer of the Year suffered an injury to his shoulder in the Champions League final against Real Madrid and may not be fit to play in Egypt’s opener against Uruguay today (1pm). If available, Salah has the potential to shoot the lights out.
T – TV coverage
The good news is that RTÉ 2 has coverage of every one of the 64 games (it will naturally have choose one when two games clash at the end of the group stage). The bad news? Well, it’s a question of personal taste but I cannot stand co-commentators Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton. Jim Beglin is good and Brian Kerr I can stomach, but Whelan (or Captain Hindsight, as I call him) appears to be the state broadcaster’s number one choice for big games.
U – Unrest
The Dutch, perennial troublemakers, didn’t qualify so all eyes will be on the French camp. Les Bleus have a track record when it comes to player unrest, most notably at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when the squad went on strike after an altercation beween Nicolas Anelka and coach Raymond Domenech.
V – VAR
The Video Assistant Referee system will be used at a World Cup for the very first time. It will be called upon for key decisions in four areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity
W – WAGs
The media’s obsession with the players’ wives and girlfriends seems to have waned somewhat in recent times but expect the WAGs (and children) of the winning team to make an appearance on the pitch after the final on Sunday, June 15.
X – Xherdan Shaqiri
Nothing too exciting to report about Xherdan Shaqiri. ‘X’ is just a hard letter.
Y – Young guns
Marcus Rashford (20) and Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (21) coud well shine, but 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappé is my tip to pick up the Best Young Player award.
Z – Ze Germans
You can never rule them out, can you? All jokes aside, if you can leave a player like Leroy Sané at home then you must be a serious outfit.
Go on…put the kettle on to help a good cause!
TEA TIME: Nora Murphy, Mary Lehane and Betty Carmody, drinking a cuppa as they raise awareness about this year’s Virtual Tea for Motor Neurone Disease which takes place on June 21.
By Michelle Crean
June 21 is Global Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Awareness Day and one local group is calling for participants to get involved.
Christy Lehane, Chairman of Kerry Friends of Motor Neurone and Ambassador for the IMNDA, will take part in the Virtual Tea for MND fundraiser and awareness event.
“We never thought this time last year that 12 months later we would be doing Virtual Tea for MND,” Christy told the Killarney Advertiser.
“In these COVID times our fundraising efforts have all ceased, but sadly there is no slowing down of Motor Neurone Disease. Providing the support and services to our Motor Neurone sufferers is now more important than ever before. I am now appealing to all you good people and friends who have supported us in the past to please hear my plea. I myself will drink Virtual Tea for MND again this year. So go on, put on the kettle and take out the china tea pot and get family and friends around to the garden for a brew and a catchup for a great cause. If you do not feel comfortable with having people around, you can go very modern and go Zooming and encourage your friends to do so also. I am aware that some of our MND sufferers are themselves organising Virtual Tea Drinking get togethers.”
Participating SuperValu stores are on board again this year providing tea bags etc. to raise awareness of MND, and staff will be asking shoppers for donations for the IMNDA starting on June 7 to 21.
“I seldom seek donations and financial support, but perhaps in these COVID times when our need is greatest you might be moved to help us.”
Every year MND Associations across the globe mark June 21 as a special day of recognition where the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations across the world undertake a range of activities to raise awareness and keep focused on the search for the cause, treatment and eventual cure for this terrible disease.
You can donate to www.imnda.ie or if you can contact Christy Lehane Chairman of Kerry Friends of Motor Neurone and Ambassador for the IMNDA on 087 9671011.
Laura’s new look for Leaving Cert
NEW LOOK: Laura Cronin, who is currently sitting her Leaving Cert, cut 14 inches off her hair for The Rapunzel Foundation.
By Michelle Crean
Rathmore’s Laura Cronin headed into her Leaving Cert exams this week with a whole new look after transforming her hairstyle for charity.
Laura, daughter of Una and Donal from Rathbeg, cut 14 inches off her hair for The Rapunzel Foundation.
As her long locks didn’t get cut over the last year Laura decided to get a good chop in Katelynn’s Hair Design in Rathmore instead, and use the left over hair to create wigs for sick children.
“I thought, rather than trim it I’d cut a lot off,” Laura, who hopes to study pharmacy in college, told the Killarney Advertiser. “I wanted to cut off a lot of it, I was sick of long hair. I said that if there’d be enough I’d donate it as it’d be a shame to see it on the floor.”
Laura said that hopefully it can make a child happy if it allows them to receive a specially made wig for their First Holy Communion, or a similar occasion.
“I’d encourage anyone who has long hair to think about what they could do with it.”
€1m upgrade for Killarney store
INVESTMENT: DV8 have invested €1m to update their store in the Killarney Outlet Centre. Pictured at the reopening were staff members: Clodagh McCarthy (Store Manager), Lorraine McGough (Assistant Manager), Anuka Altanson and Sarah Murphy. Photo: Don MacMonagle
A popular Killarney fashion shop, which reopened last week, securing up to 15 jobs, has had a facelift after a €1 million investment.
Leading fashion retailer DV8, which has a network of over 50 stores across Ireland, reopened its 4,000 square feet store in the Killarney Outlet Centre.
And customers admired the new look.
DV8 sells over 40 top fashion clothing brands as well as footwear and accessories in its stores and online at www.dv8fashion.com. The hip fashion house is well-known for its uber cool shop interiors and has dedicated customers across Ireland and the UK.
“We are delighted to be reopening our new store in Killarney and confident it will compliment the existing retail offering in the town, with DV8’s unique range of male and female clothing and footwear,” David Scott from DV8 said.
“We think local shoppers will enjoy the DV8 experience, including the top fashion brands and excellent customer service.”
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