from HUSSEIN HUSSAIN in Doha, Qatar
DOHA – SOME of the most lethal strikers in the beautiful game will be on show on the third day of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
On Tuesday, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are all tipped to inspire their teams to a perfect start at this historic tournament that has rained goals since Sunday.
The first match of the day pits Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the tournament’s biggest arena, the Lusail Stadium.
It is the Group C opener in the coastal Al Daayen, the second largest city in Qatar after Doha.
Already, Argentine were humiliated 2-1 by unfancied Saudi Arabia.
Messi, Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer with 91 goals (including six at the World Cup), scored his 92nd from the penalty spot-kick but the Albicelestes (The White and Sky Blue), coached by his namesake, Lionel Sebastián Scaloni got humiliated by Al-Saqour (The Falcons) at by regulation time.
The World Cup gold is the only major accolade missing in Messi’s cabinet in what has been one of the most glittering careers in sport.
The South Americans played second fiddle to the Saudis.
It looks likely to be the 35-year-old “Atomic Flea’s” final World Cup.
Later in the group, Mexico and Poland will be toe-to-toe at the Stadium 974 in Doha’s industrial district of Ras Abu Aboud.
Lauded as the best number 9 in the world, Lewandoski must justify that tag by scoring his first World Cup finals goal of his career.
None of the 76 goals that the highest all-time scorer for the Orly (The Eagles) has been at the prime tournament (he only featured in 2018).
The 34-year-old could be deployed as the lone striker in coach Czesław Michniewicz’s preferred 3-4-2-1 against Gerardo Martino’s El Tri (The Tricolor).
Teammates nickname him “The Body” becuase of his physique but he is more phenomenally knows as “LewaGOALski” for his prowess.
Frenchman Mbappe, bar his volatility, is the best young player in world football.
One of only two players to score in a World Cup final, alongside Pele, he carries the defending champions’ hopes of retaining their title.
Donatello, Mbappe’s nickname from his teen days, has stuck, derived for his said likeness to the nerdy member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Clubmate Neymar, with whom he has had a run-in, lauds him as the sport’s Golden Boy.
Now 23, he is joint-tenth in France’s all-time goal scorers list, with 28 goals, including one scored in the final in Russia 2018 when Les Bleus (The Blues) defeated Croatia 4-2.
Didier Deschamps’ French side has a tricky assignment against the unpredictable Socceroos of Australia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah.
The no-nonsense South African referee, Victor Gomes, will be the referee.
Tunisia will be the other African representative on Tuesday when they square up against the endearing Denmark at the Education City Stadium in
Al Rayyan, the city with the largest population (779 000) after Doha (over 2 million).
Tunisia’s Eagles of Carthage ought to be wary of the Scandinavians as the latter’s coach, Kasper Hjulmand, has been quoted as declaring the Danish Dynamite is here to win the tournament and not to make up the numbers.
Both teams will be contesting for the sixth time at the World Cup finals.
– CAJ News