Time moves pretty fast in football, as Bauza is all too aware of

MARCHING ORDERS: After just five matches in charge Edgardo Bauza has been axed as Saudi Arabia coach. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Time moves pretty fast in football, as Bauza is all too aware of

LONDON: Just three weeks ago Edgardo Bauza was talking of the importance of games against Latvia, Portugal and Bulgaria. The first game was a victory with the subsequent two ending in defeat. Results, though, were not the priority.
“We have a lot of time, but also a lot of work,” Bauza told Arab News. “Let’s keep watching the local championship, see all the players, and select the best for our next camp in March.”
Even after the defeats such talk seemed reasonable: Without Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal remain one of the best teams in the world — you tend not to win European Championships with just one player — and against Bulgaria Bauza was without all the Al-Hilal players in his squad as they had been allowed to go train with their club side ahead of its AFC Champions League final first-leg clash against Urawa Reds last Saturday.
Bauza had seen what was needed for an assault on the World Cup and had just started to roll up his sleeves and get the squad used to his style. That was when reports started to surface in Argentina last week that he was on his way out.
In the past, you could depend on Saudi Arabia changing coaches as much as Italy qualifying for the World Cup. But with Bert van Marwijk in place for two years and getting the required results, things seemed to be changing.
The Dutchman led the Green Falcons to the World Cup and everything seemed well set up for a crack at making it out of the group stages for the first time since 1994. Then came Van Marwijk’s dispute with the Saudi Football Federation, him leaving his job, with Bauza coming in as his replacement.
Just 69 days later and the Argentine, too, is now no longer at the helm. Perhaps the players weren’t liking his style of trying to be more solid at the back, or perhaps they didn’t like his training methods. Whatever transpires, and even if this move does turn out to be a masterstroke, what is clear is that after two years of stability under Van Marwijk, the current situation is clearly less than ideal a week out from the World Cup draw and seven months out from the big kick-off.


France overpower Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup final

Updated 15 July 2018
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France overpower Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup final

  • France overwhelmed Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium
  • Croatia fought hard for an hour but gradually ran out of steam after playing extra time in their three previous matches

MOSCOW: France overwhelmed Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday to lift the trophy for the second time in 20 years.
The French, playing their third World Cup final, were made to sweat initially and were lucky to go ahead when Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic headed an Antoine Griezmann free kick into his own net in the 18th minute, the first own goal in a World Cup final.
Ivan Perisic levelled with a powerful shot 10 minutes later but the Croatia midfielder was then penalized for handball following a VAR review and Griezmann stepped up coolly to convert the 38th-minute penalty and put France 2-1 up.
Croatia fought hard for an hour but gradually ran out of steam after playing extra time in their three previous matches, and goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe gave France a three-goal cushion.
Mandzukic pounced on a mistake by France keeper Hugo Lloris to cut the deficit in the 69th minute, making it the highest-scoring final over 90 minutes in 60 years, but Croatia could not find the net again in their first World Cup final.