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FULL WORLD CUP FINAL PREVIEW: Will Croatia Win Their First World Cup Against Africa’s “sixth team”

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And then there were two. 63 games filled with drama, intrigue, set-piece goals and surprise results have determined 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia finalists: France and Croatia. There is a distinctly 1998 feel to this World Cup final, evoking more than a few memories of the global finals which saw France emerge victorious on home soil two decades ago. Many have branded France Africa’s Sixth team because some of their players have African blood flowing in their veins.

France will be hoping their captain in the final that followed that semi-final victory just over 20 years ago is their good luck charm at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Didier Deschamps could become only the third man ” after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer to lift the trophy as a player and coach, if he can replicate from the dugout the successful final he had against A Selecao in 1998.
Despite the deep connections to the past, these sides are very much living in the here and now. France were functional and firm against Belgium to see off the Red Devils 1-0 in Tuesday’s semi-final while Croatia needed extra time – for the third consecutive game – to defeat England at the Luzhniki on Wednesday.
Can Croatia go one better than their heroes of 1998 or will it be Deschamps’ day once again in world football’s biggest game? The globe will be watching, and impatiently waiting for an answer.
Croatia face France at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium today aiming to win a first major international trophy, while their opponents are in a third final in six World Cups and attempting to add a second title to the one they won in Paris 20 years ago.
The man leading them, Didier Deschamps, is in his third tournament in charge and hoping to become only the third person to lift the trophy as a player and manager.
His counterpart, Zlatko Dalic, has been Croatia manager for just nine months but is 90 minutes from winning football’s biggest prize and completing one of the more unlikely triumphs in World Cup history.

Why France Are Carrying Africa’s Hopes in the World Cup Final
Officially, Africa’s involvement in the World Cup ended in Samara on June 28, when Senegal were eliminated by Colombia. But in the eyes of football fans from across the continent, there is still one African team left in the tournament. And they face Croatia today. There are at least 15 players with African roots in the France squad, and their lineages stem from all over Africa.
FIFA permits player to switch international allegiance only before they have played a competitive senior international.
Cameroon sent famed striker Roger Milla to try to persuade Samuel Umtiti to play for them. He was born in Yaounde but moved to France at an early age and came up through the French junior national teams.
Steve Mandanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Paul Pogba’s parents are from Guinea, N’Golo Kante’s from Mali. Blaise Matuidi’s parents are from Angola and came to France via DR Congo. Kylian Mbappe has an Algerian mother and a Cameroonian father. Presnel Kimpembe and Steven Nzonzi’s fathers are Congolese. Corentin Tolisso’s dad is from Togo. The list goes on.

France’s Africa contingent at 2018 World Cup
Kylian Mbappe – Cameroon / Algeria roots
Paul Pogba – Guinea
Steve Mandanda – Democratic Republic of Congo
Blaise Matuidi – Angola / Congo
Ngolo Kante – Mali
Ousmane Dembele – Senegal, Mali, Mauritania
Nabil Fekir – Algerian
Samuel Umtiti – Cameroon
Adil Rami – Morocco
Benjamin Mendy – Senegal
Djibril Sidibe – Senegal
Presnel Kimpembe – Democratic Republic of Congo

The view in Croatia: ‘Dream, dream, dream’
With a population of 4.17 million, you would think Croatia would be the smallest country to have reached a World Cup final. But that accolade goes to Uruguay, who won the inaugural competition in 1930 with an estimated population of about 1.7 million.
At 20th in Fifa’s world rankings, Dalic’s side are the lowest-ranked team to reach a World Cup final, and the 13th different nation to do so.
This is the furthest they have advanced in the competition, bettering their third-place finish 20 years ago, when their brilliant run was ended at the last four stage by… eventual champions France.
While this year’s semi-final victory shattered dreams in England, it sparked wild celebrations in Zagreb and beyond, with thousands of fans pouring onto the streets, singing, letting off flares and waving red, white and blue flags.
“Dream, Dream, Dream! Croatia are in the World Cup final,” said the Sportske Novosti newspaper, adding Dalic “has entered into legend” after surpassing the achievement of the 1998 team.
“The Fiery Ones are in the final, the nation is in a trance – one more step to the title!” said the Jutarnji List.
Davor Kovacevic, journalist with the Sportarena website, wrote: “They say we didn’t excite in our games. Who cares? We excited ourselves, that’s what matters. As if France did excite. And they are worth three to four time more than us.”

The view in France: ‘Healing the scar of 2016’
France reached the final of their home European Championship in 2016 but, despite being strong favourites to beat Portugal, they fell short.
The memories of that defeat are driving the team – and the country – this time.
The SudOuest newspaper sees Sunday as a chance to heal the “scar” of two years ago. This time, they say, “the context is different: the players have grown, and there’s Kylian Mbappe”. The forward is “on fire”, “inspires fear”, and is one of France’s “many weapons capable of breaking the Croatian siege”.
The French media have paid particular attention to their team’s extra preparation time for the final. They played their semi-final 24 hours before Croatia’s, and all their knockout ties have been won in normal time, while their opponents have needed extra time (and penalties twice) in each of their three games since the group stage.
According to Le Figaro, that is a “godsend” against a “talented and promising team capable of posing problems”.
For Le Point, it all comes down to the players’ states of mind. Despite the extra time, Croatia’s mental state has been “faultless” and the team “seems unbeatable”.
Perhaps it will be a game won by individual brilliance…

 

Battle for the Golden Ball

This tournament was considered a last chance for two greats of their generation – Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi – to dominate a World Cup.
But both were eliminated at the last-16 stage, leaving the way clear for other players to make their mark and win the prestigious Golden Ball award for the competition’s best player.
And while there have been some superb individual performances, no-one has stood out to such an extent they are a certainty for the prize.
Could the final be the deciding factor? Interestingly, it is 24 years (six tournaments) since the Golden Ball winner came from the champions.
Maybe this is the year that changes. Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has received plenty of praise for his performances so far, including a man-of-the-match showing against Argentina in the group stage.
France forward Mbappe announced himself on the biggest stage with two goals to send the Argentines home in a showing filled with pace, trickery and skill. He will be looking to become only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, after Brazil legend Pele in 1958.
A match-winning display in the final could tip the balance in their favour, while the same could be said for Antoine Griezmann, who is tied on three goals with Mbappe. Both players know a hat-trick would take them level on six goals with England’s Harry Kane in the battle for the Golden Boot.

Head-to-head
France are unbeaten in their five previous games with Croatia, winning three times. They have met twice before at major tournaments.
The French came from a goal down to beat Croatia 2-1 in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup thanks to an unlikely brace from Lilian Thuram. Those proved to be Thuram’s only goals in his 142 caps.
The teams also drew 2-2 in the group stage at Euro 2004.
The only meeting since then was a goalless draw in a friendly at the Stade de France in March 2011.

France
The French are the sixth nation to reach three or more World Cup finals, following in the footsteps of Germany (eight), Brazil and Italy (both six), Argentina (five) and the Netherlands (three).
This will be France’s sixth final at a major tournament (including three at the European Championship). They have won three of the previous five.
Three of France’s four goals in World Cup finals have come from set-pieces (two from corners, one from a penalty).
Three of France’s five goalscorers at this World Cup have been defenders (Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti).
The last time three French defenders scored at a World Cup was in 1998, when they lifted the trophy.
Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 14 knockout games at the World Cup (W11, D2). That defeat was their 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2014 quarter-finals.
Didier Deschamps is looking to become the third man to win the World Cup as a player and as head coach, after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. He’s won 73% of his games at the World Cup (eight out of 11).
France have trailed for just nine minutes and 12 seconds at this World Cup, while Croatia have been behind in all three of their knockout matches.
None of Olivier Giroud’s 13 shots at this World Cup have been on target. Since 1966, no player has had more attempts at a World Cup without directing at least one on target.
Kylian Mbappe could become only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, after Pele. His tally of three goals already makes him the highest scoring teen since Pele netted six in 1958.
Antoine Griezmann has scored or assisted 11 goals in nine knockout games at major tournaments (World Cup and European Championship). That is more than any other French player in the last 50 years, ahead of Zinedine Zidane (eight) and Michel Platini (six).

Croatia
Croatia are the 13th different nation to reach a World Cup final.
The previous two first-time finalists both won the tournament (France in 1998 and Spain in 2010).
Croatia are the first team to have reached the World Cup final despite trailing in all three of their knockout games.
The Croats have played extra time in their last three matches and could become the first team in World Cup history to play extra time in four matches at a single tournament.
Croatia have scored 12 goals and have had eight different goalscorers (excluding own goals) – only Belgium boast higher figures (14 goals and nine goalscorers, prior to the third-place play-off).
They have scored in their last 10 World Cup games, since a 0-0 draw with Japan in 2006.
Four of the five goals Croatia have conceded in Russia have come from set-pieces. They’ve conceded from a penalty, a throw-in, an indirect free-kick and a direct free-kick.
Croatia have conceded more fouls (99) and received more yellow cards (14) than any other side at this World Cup.
Ivan Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments (six goals and four assists), the joint-most by a Croat, level with Davor Suker (nine goals and one assist).
Luka Modric has created 16 chances at this World Cup, twice as many as any of his team-mates.

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Magogo’s Ticket Scandal Deepens: Lawyers Pin MP Anita Among, Land Probe Boss Of Playing Dirty Tricks And Exonerating Magogo From Corruption Charges

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Moses Magogo and Anita Among

Suspended Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) president Moses Magogo’s 2014 world cup ticket scandal has deepened after lawyers pinned Bukedea woman Member of Parliament (MP) Anita Among and Assistant commissioner legal advisory in the solicitor general’s office,  John Bosco Rujagaata Suuza exenorating Magogo from corruption charges.

Early this week, Suuza who also doubles as the deputy lead counsel of the commission of inquiry into land matters gave his opinion stopping the Ministry of Education and Sports from investigating Magogo on corruption charges. Suuza’s opinion comes after a directive from Janet Kataha Museveni, the minister of education and sports to the Permanent Secretary of the same ministry seeking an opinion from government’s legal adviser on the way the ministry can handle   Magogo’s issue. Lawyers presenting the petitioner who is also the Makindye west legislator Allan Sewanyana challenged Suuza’s legal opinion not to investigate Magogo.

In an exclusive phone interview with the Grapevine, Sewanyana’s lead lawyer Allan Mulindwa said that, “we cannot agree with that opinion, we have evidence that it was drafted from FUFA house. It was taken to MP Anita Among’s office and Suuza signed on it from there,” Mulindwa said. He further revealed that MP Among acted as the broker and negotiated the deal between Magogo and officers in the solicitor general’s office.

He added that they have already written to Francis Atoke the solicitor general to revise the legal opinion.

It should noted that on Tuesday morning, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) publicist Ali Munira told theGrapevive that the directorate had not yet received the written directive from the Minister of Education and Sports to investigate Magogo. When we contacted Charles Atwine the investigating officer who is handling Magogo’s corruption file at the directorate of criminal intelligence, he told us that the file is not yet closed and they are still investigating the matter. He refuted claims by Sewanyana’s lawyers that Magogo and Edgar Watson, the FUFA Chief Executive Officer refused to appear at the CID headquarters to record statements.

“It’s not true. I am the one handling that file and I have not yet summoned them,” Atwine said. Sewanyana wants Magogo to be prosecuted locally in the anti-corruption court after pleading guilty in the FIFA disciplinary committee to illegally selling 2014 world cup tickets which FIFA had given to Ugandans to go and watch the games. After pleading guilty, Magogo was suspended two months from office as FUFA president.

By Jamil Lutakome

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CRIME

Cranes Top Supporter Uncle Money Remanded For Killing City Businessman

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Uganda Cranes number one supporter Jackson Sewanyana alias Uncle Money has been charged and remanded to Luzira prison over the murder of a city businessman. 

Buganda road court magistrate Miriam Ayo Okello charged Sewanyana who also doubles as the Kasubi zone IV Vice Chairperson and Benson Senyonga, his defense secretary with manslaughter.

According to the charge sheet, the accused together with others at large on 16/08 this year killed Siraja Akim Tumusiime a city businessman.

Tumusiime, a phone dealer at Mutasa Kafeero plaza was called by Uncle Money to buy their phones. When the deceased met them at Kasubi, uncle money grabbed him by the neck to forced him into a valley while warning him that he was going to be killed. 

Abdul Mulembe, a brother to the deceased told this website that he followed uncle money with his brother until they warned him to stop following them, he feared and backed off.

He said that when Uncle Money murdered the deceased, he dumped the body at Mulago mortuary where the family picked it from.

The case was adjourned to 1/10/2019.

By Sengooba Alirabaki

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You Are Greedy And Dishonest, Only A Fool Will Believe That Desabre Accepted To Leave Because Whatever He Has Done, We Saw It On The Pitch – Aldrine Nsubuga Blasts Magogo’s FUFA

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Football pundit Aldrine Nsubuga who is currently the marketing director at StarTimes has blasted football governing body Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) for being Greedy and dishonest to Ugandans concerning the departure of the National team the Cranes coach Sabastian Desabre.

Aldrine, who in 2012 led Save Our Soccer (SOS) pressure group that called for the resignation of the regime at that time led by Lawrence Mulindwa over poor governace and mismanagement has warned that Magogo’s FUFA are lying about Desabre’s resignation.

Today morning, FUFA released a statement saying that Mr. Desabre Sebastien Serge Louis mutually agreed to terminate his contract.

“The reasons for termination of the employment contract are for the benefit and growth of both parties. FUFA recognises the contribution by Mr. Desabre for the improvement of the sporting and professional organisation of the Uganda Cranes inclusive of qualification to the AFCON 2019 Finals and also to the Round of 16,” the statement stated

“Mr. Desabre is grateful to the people and the Government of Uganda, FUFA, Sponsors, Staff and the players that have provided him a good environment to fulfill his obligations in his first time role as a National Team Coach.

FUFA will communicate any further development about the Uganda Cranes technical staff and future programmes of the National senior team in the nearest future,” the statement concluded.

Desabre with Uganda Cranes winger Farouk Miya

ALDRINE BITTER

In response, Aldrine, via his Facebook page said, ” Desabre is out! Contract terminated.

By mutual consent.

The moment you see those words ‘mutual consent’ you know it wasn’t. It’s the language used in professional football purely for PR purposes.

It gives us the freedom and right to speculate. So we can begin now…..if you know something tell us. ‘Mutual consent’ is a white collar term used to cover ugly truths. Lets be wiser.. I will go first…

The money. The embarrassment. The dishonesty. One of the parties (FUFA or Desabre) must be guilty of committing one of those crimes which led to the pre-mature end.

Could it be Desabre who ate the.money? No.

Is it Desabre who embarrassed the nation? No.

Is it Desabre who has been dishonest? No.

Whatever Desabre has done, we saw on the pitch. Did we see everything that the players did? Yes we did..including the strike and the reasons were put in broad day light. There was nothing hidden.

That leaves FUFA – do we know everything that FUFA did behind the scenes? No we don’t. They are the only ones between the 3 parties whose actions and deeds were never fully known to the public.

Mutual.consent? Only a fool will believe that.

You think we have moved a step.in the right direction but then , as always, we conspire to kill our own progress.

Ugandan football loses another good man in the name of ? Greed. This is always the problem.. Now let me wait for the guns to be turned against me for speaking about this. It comes with the territory.

Now what do you know, tell us….we are all ears.”

MUSEVENI TO MEET PLAYERS

President Museveni will on Monday at 4pm host the Uganda Cranes contingent that returns home tomorrow from the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt to congratulate the team for its great performance that saw them make it to the knock out phase of the AFCON tournament for the first time since 1978.

The Cranes contingent will leave Cairo at 10.50pm on Sunday night and arrive in Entebbe on Monday morning aboard Egypt Air.

By Doreen Menezer

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