The FIFA World Cup is not Sunday school, so not every contender gets a prize. However, Canada, Holland, Italy, and the United States do not even get a shot at the trophy in Russia this year.
These are but 5 of many teams whose hapless playing, unfit players, dazed and confused coaches, and sheer bad luck saw their hopes for football’s most prestigious tournament dashed. Millions of fans have also been left disappointed. In the Netherland’s case, it is understandable, given their sterling performance in previous tournaments. Canada, on the other hand, evokes a sense of pity, as the nation is relatively new to playing the sport, and had perhaps bitten off more than it could chew.
Others who will have to tune into the final at home or watch it on TV at the pub include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and Wales.
Canada: It’s a Girl’s Sport
Canada being knocked out of the competition is down to several reasons, one of them being the idea that football is a sport played by girls. There is little doubt that the country’s women’s team could run rings around the men’s team, but the reality is that both need continued development to bring them up to international standards.
That was evident in its CONCACAF fourth round, which included games with Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador. In the meantime, the popularity of ice hockey continues unabated, which is good news if FIFA ever decide to try a World Cup On Ice.
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The Netherlands’ performance at the 2010 final was spectacular, and was followed up with more great work in Brazil in 2014. Many had high hopes for the team in this year’s tournament, but any such hopes died a slow, painful death during its 2-0 loss to Bulgaria in March.
Anyone who has seen Bulgaria in action can understand how shattering a defeat it must have been for the team beset by off-field troubles, questionable coaching decisions, and lacklustre performances by strong players. Fans have also pointed the finger of blame at referee decisions, such as that disallowed winning goal scored by Bas Dost for Holland in Sweden.
Italy: Mutiny and the Manager
The world is a sad place when football-obsessed Italy only got as far as it did because its opponents were generally just as dismal. While mismanagement is being labelled as the primary reason for the team’s poor performance, it cannot be denied that the Madrid game in which it lost 3-0 to Spain was all the evidence needed to prove the sport in La Bella Italia needs to sort itself out.
A source of consternation was the appointment of coach Gian Piero Ventura, whose dogged clinging to out dated strategy and tactics lead to mutiny among some of the team’s best players. Fans claim Italy’s sad showing exposed the impotence of Ventura’s approach.
USA: a Little Too Confident
Its 1986 miss lit enough of a fire under the USA’s pants to ensure it earned a spot in every FIFA World Cup tournament since then. Its performance this year left much to be desired.
Credit where it is due, the initial games were promising. This was especially true of the team’s snatching of its 6th CONCACAF Gold Cup. When it came to the qualifying games, however, the USA’s bumbling around saw it thrashed by Costa Rica and Mexico. With only 1 qualifier win under its belt, the players and coaches have much work to do if they want to make an appearance in 4 years time. This time around however, the land of the free didn’t get a free ride to Russia 2018!