World Cup diary: Don't feel too sorry for Lionel Messi‚ his bank balance is a lot more than yours

22 June 2018 - 16:02 By Nick Said
Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
Image: Fred Lee/Getty Images

Tunisia and Senegal are back in action this weekend where they will look to take a step towards the second round of the World Cup.

We have news from them in our TimesLIVE World Cup diary‚ as well as a young French starlet‚ some furious Egyptians and some good news at last for Lionel Messi.

CISSE BACKS AFRICA

Senegal will be back in action on Sunday when they face Japan in their second World Cup clash‚ seeking back-to-back wins to take a giant step into the last-16.

Their coach‚ Aliou Cisse‚ has again been talking up the chances of an African side to win the World Cup‚ even as all but his side have so far bombed at the 2018 event.

“Africa is full of quality and we’re on the way‚” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We face realities that are not there in other continents. But we fully trust our football – we have no hang-ups.

“I’m certain that one day an African team‚ an African country‚ will win the World Cup‚” he said.

RESPECT!

Tunisia may have been the first African country to win a match at the World Cup when they beat Mexico 3-1 in Rosario‚ Argentina at the 1978 finals‚ but they have yet to get past the first round.

That is their target this year‚ but after a last-gasp 2-1 loss to England in their opener‚ the Eagles of Carthage are now likely to need to beat Belgium in their second game on Saturday to do so.

The Belgians have the likes of Romelu Lukaku‚ Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard‚ but coach Nabil Maaloul believes the European side will show Tunisia due respect.

“I think we will have Belgium’s respect and we have our own ambitions of getting past the first round‚ which Tunisia has never done before‚” Maaloul said.

Since that win in 1978‚ Tunisia have not won a single match at the global finals‚ with their record so far reading 13 games played‚ one victory‚ four draws and eight losses.

VIVE LA MBAPPE!

France coach Didier Deschamps has showered praise on teenage forward Kylian Mbappe after his goal claimed a precious 1-0 win over Peru and sealed a place in the Last 16 for the European side.

France are many people’s favourites to lift the trophy and Mbappe is one of a number of outstanding young talents.

“He’s got great qualities and he was able to show his pace today. I don’t think he sacrificed himself by defending. He just did what the team needed him to do. I’m very happy with his performance today‚” Deschamps said.

“The attackers made an effort to make the team compact‚ working to recover the ball. With the quality showed by the Peruvian team‚ it was important to have a tight defence.”

Next up for France is their final pool game against Denmark‚ with Australia also in the mix to make the next round.

PHARAOH FURY

Egypt are to launch a formal complaint with Fifa over the handling of their 3-1 loss to Russia by Paraguay referee Enrique Caceres‚ who they say was biased against them.

“We want an investigation into the performance of the whole refereeing team‚” Egyptian Football Association president Hany Abo Rida told Reuters on Friday.

The Egyptians believe defender Ahmed Fathi was pushed in the back early in the second half‚ which resulted in him steering the ball into his own net‚ while they also think Marwan Mohsen should have had a penalty when Egypt trailed 3-1.

“The referee should have used VAR [the Video Assistant Referee] to check and award the penalty. They should have also seen that Fathi had been pushed. It is our right to complain and ask for an investigation‚” Rida said.

JUST A BLIP

It seems Argentina’s poor performance at the World Cup will not affect ‘Brand Messi’ all that much as he looks set to go another major finals without silverware.

Messi has been muted in Argentina’s campaign so far‚ which struck a disastrous low with the 3-0 loss to Croatia on Thursday.

But given his massive influence at club level‚ Raffaele Poli‚ who is head of the CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland and analyses transfer markets‚ says the World Cup failure will have no impact on the Barca man.

He values Messi at US$214-million (almost R3-billion)‚ almost double the value of Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Next week‚ Messi scores a hat-trick and Ronaldo misses a penalty. The market is completely logical‚” Poli said.

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