TODAY -

We just need a little bit of luck

S Kunjabihari Singh *



This is the wish, a rather desperate one, of Ivan Rakitic, a member of the magnificent Triangular Central Force (TCF) of Croatia football team this WC 2018. Ivan meekly philosophized on the prospect of his country against a formidable France ahead of the epic fight in the WC final this time around. He probably felt humble in the fight against the might of France vis-à-vis his country, a rather tiny country with relatively less of exposer.

He thought they didn't have much strength to boast about against France which had already bagged the World Cup in 1998, a team captained by the present coach. As is the natural corollary, Rakitic had nothing other than seeking a support in the form of an invisible hand, 'A Little Bit of Luck'.

2. One way, he is perhaps right. For in this WC, why this only, in all such top level competitions the world over, the impossibilities rein riot; talents or competence are often the casualties; the unexpected finds full play. Teams no more appear to rely on their talents alone; some extraneous factors have caved into the system. Belgian football coach Roberto Martinez, post their play with England for third place, observes, "I think that we have seen in this WC that they did not rely on talent alone. Talent can take you far but sometimes not far enough….". The popular adage, 'fortune favors the prepared', no more holds true in the game of football.

3. And where is Croatia in the map of world of football competing with France, a force by itself this day? Currently placed 20th in world rankings, Zlatko Dalic's side are the lowest ranked to reach the WC final and the 13th different nation to do so. This coach Dalic again reflects on the patronage of this tiny country of their first WC experience, "What you are looking here is just a fraction of what is happening back home. We are proud to make the Croatian people happy, the people have forgotten about all the problems. Whatever the outcome, there will be an earthquake in Croatia. There will be four million people out on the streets."

4. Recall how the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, reached Moscow, braved the rain in the stands to watch the final. She wore the team shirt, soaked by the rain and cheered, smiled in defeat and hugged every player from both teams as the winners were given their medals. By the end of the day the Croatian President emerged as Croatia's real WC Star. Pictures of her curvaceous figure in bikini in beach, which some fans mistook for model Coco Austin or US porn star Diamond Foxx went viral. But that only aided generously to the glamour coefficient of the whole Croatian team.

5. Small though, Croatia boasts of team members mostly playing in European clubs. The captain Luka Modric, for instance, plays in Real Madrid, controls the mid-field as a play maker and has been famous for being a strategist with a rare quality to pick venerable positions in the enemy field where he would reach his ball. His hawk's eyes prey on the opposite field, feeds the ball for the forwards, the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Karen Benjama, Gareth Bale to name a few, to strike. Since 2012 this 32 year old Croat has been talked about as the Real Madrid's most inventive and versatile middle-man allowing boys upfront claim headlines and pose topless with trophies. He lets the spotlight sit firmly on the shoulders of the Captain applauded as the driving force behind the team. Not to have a second thought; Luka was adjudged 'Golden Ball'.

6. But this team had a humble journey, a journey often plagued with uncertainties. Croatia finished third on debut in WC 1998, the year France bagged the FIFA Cup. Commentators talk about bigger names with fatter paychecks to have conjured magical moments. Some have played an outstanding game or two. But none have been more commanding during the entire championship. It is in such considerations that Luka Modric stands heads and shoulders above the rest. He was not alone however in the gambit; a bunch of high performers are in league with him. Ivan Rakitic wins 50:50 arguments in the midfield. Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida are ironmen at the back. But Modric is classed as the 'man of ideas', draughtsman of Croatia's attacking force.

7. What makes Luka different and special is his ability to adapt his game to the requirement of his colleague. At Real, always typified by the world's glitziest line-up, he is more attack-minded. For Croatia he plays deeper, runs around much more. In this WC he has covered a whooping 63 kms the highest among all players. But he also delivers telling cross-field passes, sometimes over more than 50 meters or over160 feet. His technique is talked about as 'minimalist', kind of 'touch sure' and 'clinically precise'. But he can extricate himself from the tightest situation and in such a manner that one hardly notices it passing around.

8. Great ball distribution is often about finding the right man at the right place, at the right time, with unerring frequencies. It is also about finding spaces where none exists. Modric is complemented with performing both with relish and ease.

9. But this talent, this competence does not come the easy way. Today's success in European football for instance, has deep-rooted legacy. The same is true for other continents as well. They talk about focus on youth development to ensure a pipeline of gifted talent in the system. Since 2004, European football's governing body has required all major clubs to also operate youth teams at various age-groups, like the prevailing ones, under-10s, 10-14 brackets and at least two in 15-21 range. Such a requisite ensures a pipeline of technically gifted talent into the European soccer system. The young sensation of this WC, 19 year old French forward, Kylian Mbappe, who scored two goals in this session, was a product of such youth teams.

10. This way much of the optimism over England's future stems largely from the success of junior teams in the past. England won Under-20 WC, Under-17 WC and U-19 European Championship last year. Fanned with this fabulous background England came to the WC and yet had to rest satisfied with the fourth position. What could be the underlying factor? Could it be 'Luck', a factor which defies talent, precision and what not?

11. All talents gifted or inherited or acquired through rigorous training the way European football is about, go a long way and yet an unforeseen factor often plays truant. This facet often plays big role in nerve-shattering penalty kicks. Great players often miss to the greatest dismay of everybody. Recall how Croatian Captain missed his penalty shot in its game against Denmark when they were 1:1. And lo! Luka missed. How impossible, for a man known the world over for his talent. In the next 10 minutes he came forward again for the shoot-out. This time around he hit the bull's eye. Forget the determination, the steely resolve he had inherited from rigorous training.

12. Nevertheless, the ugly head of 'LUCK' lurks around in such competitions of the fiercest order. Recall Croatia's tallest forward at 6'3'' Mario Manzukick when rising to meet Griezmann's free-kick with the top of his head inflicted a self-goal to the tremendous advantage of France. How terrible to face the situation when he inadvertently sent the ball past his own goalkeeper. Also recall how Ivan Perisic a club member of the deadly Croatian TRIO in the mid-field, had handled the ball in the box. Or could it be, as I put it, the ball came only flying to his hand; he was not at fault, never. And yet, a penalty was awarded against Croatia which dampened the spirit of Croatia with murderous consequence. The rest is history.


* S Kunjabihari Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on July 19, 2018.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Republic Day @Kangla #1 :: Gallery
  • No matter what :: Poem
  • Fear of the virus
  • The Peace Forest Initiative
  • The vehicle for NEP 2020
  • Contribution of Leimayol Arts Centre
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Lotus plant: A multipurpose plant species
  • Primary School renovated at Joupi
  • Republic Day recollections
  • Huge skills gap making new jobs go abegging
  • National Voters' Day
  • Lining up for BJP ahead of polls
  • Lainingthou Sanamahi Complex #2:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • BAMCHAS biennial conference 2022
  • COVID Vaccine Booster: To give or not
  • Before I sleep... III
  • Indian Army as a career option
  • 20-yr MoU to set up Mini-Grid in Nagaland
  • Season of promises!
  • Election curbs; relief for commoners
  • First manifesto, then candidates list
  • Imoinu @Yumnam Leikai :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Our Ailing Planet: My locality as a facet
  • Stop Oil Palm Plantation in Manipur
  • General election in hard times :: Poem
  • Being free from freedom
  • Roaring 40 in first list of Cong
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #2
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Wake Up My People Wake up :: Poem
  • A tribute to Athokpam Indrakumar Singh
  • Stunted fingerling- Replacement of fish seed
  • Training Program at Dimapur
  • Gaan-Ngai @Kakhulong :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Classical Language Vs ST for Meetei
  • The Great Green Walls, conserving nature
  • Webinar: The Birds and Bees Talk
  • Covid Booster Campaign at Tamenglong
  • IVF Centre in Guwahati
  • Easing curbs as cases spiral
  • Third wave is on!
  • Ecotourism Complexes @ Ramrei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • No excuse not to end acute pandemic stage
  • Palm-oil in Manipur: Bad to worse
  • For sons and daughters :: Poem
  • Effective methods for facial hair removal
  • Subdued dissent over Sunday as poll day
  • Embracing the party hoppers
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #2:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Cultural Activists of Manipur honoured
  • Male infertility: What are the options ?
  • Is celebrating New Year Day really worth it
  • Third wave: State on record breaking spree
  • Compulsion of power politics
  • Imoinu Thouniba @Singjamei :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Jonga! O Jonga :: Poem
  • Grey market for election tickets
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #2
  • Lilong Haoreibi College awarded 'B' grade
  • State used as transport route of drugs
  • Possible post poll scenario
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Lunghar path in springshed conservation
  • Lament of love :: Poem
  • Career options in Lift Technology
  • Brief tale of one year COVID vaccination
  • Bickering among allies in coalition politics
  • Low vaccination coverage
  • NH-2 : Remember Khongnem Thana
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • O Kolhen! O Kolhen :: Poem
  • Program on POCSO Act at Thoubal
  • The Killing Fields (2013-22) :: News Timeline
  • A spate of 'defections' in UP elections...
  • High performing individuals work alone
  • Onus on ECI to avert crisis situation
  • Keeping people informed is key
  • Gaan-Ngai @Iboyaima Shanglen #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • The church is & must remain apolitical
  • Tamenglong Battalion celebrated Army Day
  • How prosperous NE India became backward
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni @ Koubru #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Read all about Gaan Ngai
  • Justice, Peace and Change :: Poem
  • Mass Surya Namaskar at Tamenglong
  • Padmanabha Swamy Temple
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy
  • Nothing grand about 'Grand Old Party'
  • Lainingthou Sanamahi Complex #1:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Some common weeds of Manipur #1
  • How to keep your hair healthy this winter
  • Third wave: Litmus test for NE states
  • High TPR, low vaccination
  • Maharaja Gambhir Singh
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Rani Gaidinliu Open Air Lounge inaugurated
  • NAAC peer team visit for assessment
  • National Youth Day
  • Conservation Agriculture: intensified farming
  • Negligence galore as Covid cases rise
  • Back to the spike in three figures
  • How AFSPA undermines 'Act East' Policy
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • P Achevei : Mega Mister North East 2021
  • Stop Violence related to Election
  • Civil / Project Engineer @ R-Square
  • Business Development @ R-Square
  • Customer Representative @ Property Geo
  • No matter what :: Poem
  • Stealthy extension of AFSPA
  • Confiscating 'suspected heroin'
  • 188 Death Anniv: Maharaj Gambhir:: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) 20th Call
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #2
  • Account Assistant @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • Business Dev @ Amber & Arthur, Imphal
  • The 5G Race :: Samarjit Kambam
  • Manipur elections not for the faint-hearted
  • Guns & violence in run up to polls
  • Climate Change in Ukhrul in last 50 years
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Are we able to break chain of transmission
  • 100 new Sainik School- opportunities for girl
  • Joyjeet Waikhom / Ksh Maradona: Mr India
  • Money flying in or out ?
  • Will partial lockdown help curb transmission
  • Voting during Covid pandemic
  • Food items @ Singjamei, Pishum :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Curfew : Measures to combat COVID
  • IMFP - Indian Made Foreign People
  • Happy 2022 to you !
  • Manipur Press Foundation Day :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Politician must practice, preach on COVID
  • Makeup routine during pandemic
  • Third wave threat no more a mirage
  • Queuing up for BJP
  • Thangal Lambi & Ima Keithel :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Before I sleep... II
  • Election Brawl :: Poem
  • Impact of Covid on Employer Branding
  • Chasing peace in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Kalum Kai (House of worship) #1
  • The art of New Year's resolution
  • Cong struggling to keep its house in order
  • Manipur's place in the eyes of Delhi
  • Makru bridge, Oinamlong Waterfall : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • Depression : A New Time Bomb
  • School & Student Championship Quiz
  • Concern over child labour
  • ECI on sluggish vaccination rate in state
  • Vaccination rate in hill districts
  • Fusion of contemporary dance & theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Crackdown on violators
  • AMAND, Pune released 2022 calendar
  • Rising poverty in Manipur
  • Sunset, the most memorable!
  • Election time season of plentiful promises
  • Interesting role of NPP, NPF
  • Pineapple @ Ngariyan Hills #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • kLlQtre :: Seireng
  • National Day for our feathered friend
  • Value of purposeful life
  • Homemade face packs for winter beauty
  • Dreadful start to New Year as cases spike
  • Manipur steps into Year 2022
  • Tarpon Katpa @ Loktak #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Jan : Govt of Manipur
  • OneHealth: towards pandemic preparedness?
  • Before I sleep...
  • Meitei ST demand & the opposition
  • Bye Bye 2021 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #6: Gallery
  • Manipur : National Futsal C'ship 2021
  • 'Unlocking Locks Under Lockdowns' released
  • Baby corn cultivation for livelihood
  • Extension of AFSPA to Nagaland
  • Hoping for a better New Year 2022
  • Appeal of AMCO to Chief Minister
  • NK Sanajaoba- Star in Dark Sky of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Danube Kangjam : Miss North East 2021
  • In search of Christmas party
  • Demise of Film Producer: Guruaribam John
  • Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland extended
  • Thyroid cancer- The Good, Bad & Ugly
  • Same old order to tackle most potent threat
  • Putting tighter restrictions in place
  • Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • January Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Carol on Christmas :: Poem
  • Formation of 13 Farmer Producer Orgns
  • Indian Army Inquiry Team visits site in Oting
  • Review home isolation rule or punish violator
  • Lining up for saffron party
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • curaNTbdi nYte AE :: Seireng
  • Marriageable at 25 not 18 or 21
  • IMA Manipur wins 7 awards at NATCON-2021
  • Impact of climate change in agriculture
  • Dual threat to state in election season
  • Another panel to study AFSPA
  • Indigenous under-utilized fruit crop Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Can we deliver on #HealthForAll
  • Business Executive @ Property Geo, Imphal
  • 13th Seniors National Futsal C'ship
  • National Curling Championship
  • Centre benevolence crucial for development
  • Taking the elixir of life to all village
  • Omicron now in town
  • Job-Fair 2021 @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Remembering great grandmothers :: Poem
  • Grand finale Mega Miss North East 2021
  • Kodo - A miracle food millet crop in Manipur
  • Preparing HCWs for long battle against Covid
  • Bid to arm twist the media
  • Christmas Eve @ Imphal : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My idea of justice- For the old aged folks
  • Amit Shah holds conclave with Naga leaders
  • Horses - some tidbits
  • The best skincare routine for teenagers
  • Christmas Eve @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • My Christmas
  • Mary : The Unwed Mother
  • O Come, let us adore Him
  • Violence in election: Will it sustain?
  • Hymn on autumn :: Poem
  • Crackdown on liquor sale in election
  • Another Christmas comes
  • Red Ribbon Manipur Idol, 2021 #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Secy raises CCpur ambush with Myanmar
  • Gossiping with flowers, bees & butterflies
  • Careers with Migrants
  • Climate literacy to tackle climate crisis
  • Violence in AC with 2 fmr education minister
  • Heirok AC: Shooting to kill : Abhorrent
  • Of AFSPA, Manipur and NE States
  • The Price of Justice!
  • Seminar on 'Bioeconomy from Bioresources'
  • Shija: 1st Pvt medical college in NE
  • Water saving techniques in hill agriculture #2
  • Plight of women in land of brave-hearts
  • Not a question of If but
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #2
  • Painting: Tribal Freedom Fighter #1: Gallery
  • New Barak Bridge @Jiri highway : Gallery
  • Heisnam Savitri (Legendary actress) #1
  • RK Meghen tribute @ Nupi Lal : Gallery
  • Protest: massacre of Naga Brethen: Gallery