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Sports Features of Thursday, 2 January 2014

Source: Graphic Online

2014 Must be a year of scientific soccer!

We really have a lot of lessons to learn if we seriously desire to maintain our status as advocates of professional soccer. In fact, if that match I watched on a big screen at the popular Sebako Video Centre, near Zongo Market, between Chelsea and Liverpool last Sunday afternoon was anything to determine what is definitely ahead in the year 2014 which begins today, then I can say for sure that soccer is developing to a new dimension.

Coach Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, playing at their favourite Stamford Bridge, beat Liverpool 2-1 in that English Premier League (EPL) clash, and I can say that lovers of the game must anticipate a fresh complex structure in scientific football!

The year 2014 is expected to bring forth a new vista of soccer as all attention is focused strictly on the World Cup in Brazil, a country described as the home of modern soccer. As I watched the Chelsea-Liverpool match with a large number of people who rooted sincerely for Chelsea, I noticed that the way the defence and midfield of both sides strung their passes together with precision and professional accuracy portrayed real serious science in the game.

For the attackers, it really needed that special flair and punching power to pounce on the least opportunity to do damage in the opponents' goal area. Yes, what an attacking game I wished to be imported into our terrain for us to enjoy. Of course, with that massive home support, Chelsea broke through to score two difficult goals after conceding an opening deficit in the early minutes of the game.

Even in such a tight situation, both sides missed some wonderful chances, with the posts denying Chelsea of a better margin, and Liverpool a chance to equalise. The talented stars who featured for Chelsea included Frank Lampard, John Terry, Lucas, Mikel Obi, Hazard, Oscar, Eto'o, David Luiz, backed by Peter Cech in the posts. I need to emphasise that the second goal scored by Eto'o had a touch of magic.

In attendance at the Liverpool end were a crack set led by stubborn and hardworking Luis Suarez, Johnson, Smith, Agger, Coutinho and other top stars. I really wonder what can deny any of the stars the opportunity of being in Brazil to feature for their countries at the tournament. Uruguay, for instance, will make sure they don't miss Suarez, so can Nigeria never leave experienced Mikel Obi behind, while Cameroon captain Eto'o is expected to make his country great in Brazil.

In last Sunday's match, we saw our own Michael Essien relaxing on the bench for Chelsea. Of course, the crowd would have roared if he was called to duty in the second half, but he sat there satisfied with his colleagues' effort on the pitch to overrun Liverpool.

Essien is surely a key star in the Black Stars set-up and it is the wish of all that Coach Kwasi Appiah would deem it fit to encourage him to do his personal training to maintain his fitness, even if he is not regularly featured in his team.

Connoisseurs of the game, coaches and fans alike are yearning for a new standard in the Brazil event. The anticipated scientific soccer we see all over must come through some hard training, match fitness and good reading of the game.

Let me repeat that this is a period Africa is being represented by a set of matured and well-tested five nations with nothing like novices. The other day, I cautioned all the qualified nations not to rest on their oars but do well to ensure that at the group stage, no matter their opponents, they prove their maturity.

Algeria, the only North African side, must be reminded of their past three participations in 1982 in Spain, 1986 in Mexico and 2010 in South Africa. Cameroun, the only team from Central Africa, should remember their past successes in 1982 in Spain, 1990 in Italy, 1994 in USA, 1998 in France, 2002 in Japan/South Korea, and 2010 in South Africa. Nigeria can't just keep out of their minds what they did in USA in 1974, France in 1998, Japan/Korea in 2002 and South Africa in 2010.

Comparatively, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire are fresh fishes swimming in the new millennium with only two previous experiences in 2006 in Germany and 2010 in South Africa.

All the five strong nations have vowed to approach Brazil with a sense of purpose from their best of stars and, indeed, they must have realised by now the enormity of the task in this modern era of scientific football.

Brazil 2014 is no place for experiment. God Bless!

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