Colombian heft, Panamanian joy in defeat, Japanese magic

Maswood Alam Khan | Published: June 25, 2018 22:17:49 | Updated: June 26, 2018 21:34:17

Yerry Mina rises for Colombia's first goal against Poland in FIFA World Cup match in Russia on June 24. -Reuters Photo

Colombia, known as "The land of a thousand rhythms", is famously passionate about celebrating their victories. Their football players and fans get very emotional and are quick to show their colours whenever their national anthem plays aloud in the stadium and when their tricolour flags flutter in the wind as their team set their foot in any of the World Cup tournaments.

One could sense steely determination in the faces of the Colombian players when their national anthem was at play before kick-off of the Colombia-Poland match at midnight between Sunday and Monday at Kazan Arena, a magnificent stadium in Kazan, which is a wonderful city in southwest Russia.

Colombia were determined to erase bad memories of their disastrous battle with Japan only last week and they could keep their World Cup hopes alive, dashing Poland's. Their talented offensive trio, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado, gifted their nation a proud victory, 3-0, over Poland amid thunderous ovations and to a chorus of furious whistles from the legions of Colombia fans in the stadium. The victory sparked a delirious jubilation back home that skims both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, 11,500 kilometres away.

The first goal was terrific which was designed by Rodriguez and executed by Yerry Mina at the 40th minute. Rodriguez, who only played 30 minutes in Colombia's opener against Japan because of a calf strain, created the first goal with a perfectly placed chip that found Yerry Mina. He outjumped everyone else in the area and with Szczesny, the Polish goalkeeper, rushing from goalpost in an effort to reach the ball, Mina found a glorious chance to send the ball into an unguarded net.

The second half started as the first ended, with Colombia playing the ball about nicely, and Poland occasionally having possession briefly and meaninglessly. Poland seemed to have no plan, no direction while Colombia ran faster, fought harder, and played a better football. Great passes, great controls and great finishes shown by Falcao and Cuadrado of Colombia brought joy and imagination.  Colombia significantly outclassed Poland.

In the first match on Sunday, England crushed Panama, scoring six goals against one by Panama, creating history. England simply ran riot!

England completed 92 per cent of its passes and had 57 per cent of the possession, scoring six goals on 12 shots. The match has opened a door for England into the Next Round. Lucky Kane of England is now the leading scorer in the World Cup tournament with five goals,

The most enjoyable moment in the match came in the 78th minute, when Panama, qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time, bested England, the founder of football. That was the aha moment when they scored their single goal, their first-ever World Cup goal.

Panama fans erupted in a state of euphoria. They forgot that their team were down 6-1 and that they looked like the worst team in this World Cup. So, what! Many football prodigies conceived more goals and faced more ignominious defeats! Damn it! They are in the World Cup making great strides in the FIFA qualifying processes while many football crazy nations dreamed in vain for a place in the World Cup. That they are in the World Cup and that they even scored a goal are enough for Panamanians to celebrate. Congratulations to Panama!

In another match that started in at 9:00 PM Bangladesh time, Japan and Senegal played a highly entertaining draw in Yekaterinburg, a city in Russia, east of the Ural Mountains.

Now these two countries will control their own fates during the final group-stage matches on Thursday. In this exciting match, Senegal took the lead twice and Japan made two excellent equalisers to end the game levelled magically.

Senegal were very disciplined and patient. They were allowing Japan to have the ball in safe places, maintaining their shape and then pouncing when they had chosen, winning back the ball and launching counter-attacks.

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