By Nehru Odeh
“It is the stars. The stars above us, govern our conditions.” – William Shakespeare
Ever since the knock-out stages began with the Round of 16 in the ongoing 2022 World, an uncanny trend has been going with each match that has been played.
Of course, superstition doesn’t have anything to do with the round leather game, since it is a game of skills, talent and team work, a strange similarity seems to define each game that has been played in the knock-out stages.
Though I do not believe in astrology, numerology or anything that has to do with the arcane, the truth remains that that trend has called for concern and attention, even if it is just for fun. At least, the game of football and a fortiori, the World Cup is about entertainment and fun.
Entertainment and fun? Yes, I have been having fun, no doubt, like many, what with the rude shocks, pleasant surprises and disrespectful upsets that have defined this World Cup.
Now that I have whet your appetite with this preamble, let me unveil the uncanny trend. Having closely followed each match played in the knock-out stages I have come to realized to my chagrin, spiced with an element of fun – a pleasant surprise, one may say – that in any match played between two countries the one whose first letter comes first in the alphabet ended up winning the match.
For instance, in the first knock-out match that was played between Netherlands and the United States, Netherlands, whose first letter N precedes U, the first letter of the United States won it 3-1.
This went on and on till the end of the Round of 16, while I fed my curiosity and excitement and having fun at the same time.
What makes that trend more intriguing is that even when Spain was favoured to win the match against Morocco, the North Africa country, whose first letter M precedes that of Spain, S, won it after a thrilling match that lasted more than 120 minutes vis penalties. Little wonder, Luis Enrique, the coach of the Spanish team was sacked yesterday.
Indeed, as legendary poet and playwright, William Shakespeare says, “it is the stars. The stars above us govern our conditions,” The gods can neither be wrong nor faulted.
The question now are: How long is this uncanny trend going to continue. Will it be truncated very soon. No doubt it will, because, as they say, nothing lasts forever.
Now that we are about to watch the Quarter final matches between Brazil versus Croatia, and Argentina versus Netherlands, if the trend is anything to go by Brazil and Argentina are expected to win the matches.
Still, we must not rule out the elements of surprise, shocks and upsets that have defined this World Cup and are part of the fun and entertainment. Are the gods going to be proved wrong this time? Your guess is as good as mine. But let the games continue and let’s have some fun.
Here are the results of Round of 16 matches.
1 Netherlands 3-1 USA Netherlands –
2 Argentina 2-1 Australia Argentina
3 France 3-1 Poland France –
4 England 3-0 Senegal Jordan
5 Japan 1-1 Croatia (1-3 on penalties) Japan –
6 Brazil 4-1 South Korea Brazil –
7 Morocco 0-0 Spain (3-0 on penalties Morocco –
8 Portugal 6-1 Switzerland Portugal
Nehru Odeh, journalist and writer, is the author of The Patience of an Embattled Storyteller and writes for TheNEWS, PMNEWS.