Paris :PAUL Pogba was the last to arrive. There was little doubt that he was the man everyone was waiting for. The rest of his mates of this World Cup-winning and potentially era-defining team had already passed through the mixed zone, boarding the bus to the team hotel to pick their stuff and take the flight to Paris where their fans will flood the Champs Elysees for the victory parade.
Pogba entered the hall — designed specifically with a walkway for the players to go through with only a three-foot high, one-inch thick plastic wall propped up on a metallic base to keep the hordes of journalists at a safe distance from them — alongside captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. He announced his arrival loudly and then proceeded to shake hands with the press pack looking forward to sharing that moment with him and getting his reaction.
Lloris immediately ran to a Colombian journalist, giving him a deep hug while celebrating with him. Pogba did the same; they jumped for joy and the strength of the plastic wall that separated them was tested. That wall had fallen moments earlier, prompting several reporters to hit the floor when Adil Rami, the man who calls himself the joker of this French squad, was speaking. Only after that, the volunteers on the side of the players began to push back the wall whenever they felt that the press pack was leaning too much onto it.
Anyways, you’d wonder why Lloris and Pogba were celebrating so passionately with a Colombian journalist when a huge number of reporters from France were already there. Well, the man in question is a close friend of Davinson Sanchez, Lloris’ team-mate at Tottenham Hotspur, and Juan Cuadrado, Pogba’s pal at former side Juventus. Pogba’s appearance in the mixed zone had taken the spotlight off Antoine Griezmann, who was speaking to a large group of reporters from Spain.
About a couple of hours ago, France had blown away Croatia 4-2 to lift the World Cup. It was a complete performance; one that showed France’s brilliance and their supreme control. Not at any stage had France looked nervous.
“We had 90 minutes to make a story and we made it today,” Pogba said as he stopped to take questions from Dawn. “I’m extremely happy to be a world champion. This really is a dream come true.”
An own goal by Mario Mandzukic off a Griezmann free-kick gave France the lead after Croatia had dominated the early stages. Ivan Perisic’s stunning strike levelled matters but the French got a VAR decision in their favour when Perisic couldn’t react quickly enough to get his hand out of the way and gave away a penalty that Griezmann tucked away to give France a 2-1 lead by the 38th minute. Pogba’s goal saw France surge clear just before the hour mark before Kylian Mbappe added a fourth to seal the result with Lloris’ error, that contributed to Mandzukic pulling one back, proving inconsequential.
“We were playing against a great team which had a tactic against us and a plan against us,” said Pogba when asked about France’s largely nerveless performance. “I think the first goal hit them a bit and so did the penalty. But then we scored the third and the fourth quickly and that made all the difference.”
The victory was a sort of redemption for Pogba. He came to this World Cup after a season at Manchester United where he was criticised for his performances. Before the final on Sunday, he had no goals or assists at the World Cup. His goal was huge and he left Russia as a world champion.
“That’s what I play for, that’s why I star,” Pogba said when asked if this win was a riposte to the critics. “That’s why we train every day, that’s why we push ourselves, that’s why we are doing all that the sacrifices in life. Everyone, however, wants to see the shiny things in life, like my house or my fast cars. But we work a lot for it and deserve it. We try to do the right things and try to help people in need. At the end of the day, we’re also human beings and that criticism is nothing.”
TRAU FC qualify for I-League, beat Ozone FC to win second division league
NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) lauded Manipur club Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC for winning the Hero 2nd Division League 2018-19, and qualifying to the next edition of Hero I-League.
They are the second club from the state after NEROCA FC, to have qualified for the Hero I-League from the second tier in three years.
TRAU FC defeated Ozone FC 2-1 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal to clinch the championship with one match left. The Manipuri side has amassed 15 points from five matches (so far), whereas second-placed Chhinga Veng FC are on 10 points having played an equal number of matches.
Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League said: “Congratulations TRAU FC for the achievement. I’m sure the Hero I-League will be more competitive and challenging next season with their inclusion. I wish them all the best for the next endeavour.”
I want more responsibility at PSG or elsewhere: Mbappe
London: Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has thrown his future at the club into doubt by claiming he has reached what he sees as a “turning point” in his career.
Speaking after accepting the Ligue 1 Player of the Year Award this evening, the 20-year-old French international suggested he would like a bigger role going forward after claiming the Ligue 1 title with PSG this season.
However, Mbappe said that role could come either at PSG or “maybe somewhere else”, casting his future into doubt while hinting that he could leave the club in search of a new challenge.
“Of course there were some disappointments [this season] but it’s part of football, we managed to win this league,” he said after accepting the award on Sunday.
“I would like to thank the players, the coach, the club again. It’s important for me because I come to a first or a second turning point in my career.
“I discovered a lot of things here. I feel it’s time to have more responsibility. I hope it may be Paris Saint-Germain, it will be with great pleasure, or it may be elsewhere for a new project, but I would like to say thank you.
Mbappe went on to clarify his comments when asked if he was saying that he wasn’t guaranteed to stay at PSG next season.
“I said what I had to say. When you are in such an occasion you can send messages, I think I have sent mine,” he said.
“If I speak more it will be too much and that is not the message I wish to send.”
Mbappe joined PSG in 2017 from Monaco, having won the league the season prior.
Since joining the club, Mbappe has won the league twice while also claiming a Coupe de France and a Coupe de la Ligue title.
Mbappe, who was a part of France’s World Cup-winning team in 2018, has scored 59 goals in 86 matches for the club while leading the league in scoring this campaign with 32 goals in Ligue 1 play and a total of 38 in all competitions.
Those achievements helped him claim the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award as well as the Young Player of the Year award.
“This is the only trophy I missed,” he said.
“I would first like to dedicate it to the president, Nasser [Al-Khelaifi], who is watching us, I know he had a tragedy this year so I would like to pay tribute to him, he has always been an honest man with me from the first day until today.
“I would also like to thank all the people who are here. It is the fourth year that I am here in this league.
“I have lived a lot many things that are rich in emotion: AS Monaco, where I was trained, where we managed to win the title, then Paris Saint-Germain for a totally different project, where I managed to adapt from the first year, to change positions this year.”
Asif Ali’s daughter loses battle with cancer
Islamabad: Pakistan batsman Asif Ali’s daughter, who suffered from stage four cancer, died in a hospital in the United States , Pakistan Super League (PSL) side Islamabad United has said.
Ali is currently on tour with the Pakistan national team in England and played in the 54-run defeat by the hosts in their final one-day international of the series.
“ISLU family pays its deepest condolences to @AasifAli2018 on the tragic loss of his daughter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Asif & his family,” the PSL franchise said on Twitter on Monday.
“Asif is a great example of strength & courage. He is an inspiration to us.”
Dean Jones, who coached Islamabad to the PSL title last year, also sent his condolences to the cricketer’s family. “On behalf of my family and the @IsbUnited players and families… we send our condolences and love to @AasifAli2018 and his family on the passing of his beautiful daughter,” Jones said on Twitter.
Jones had broken down in tears at a media conference in March when talking about Ali and his daughter’s condition.
The 27-year-old Ali was not named in Pakistan’s World Cup squad but made the 17-man group for the series in England where the middle-order batsman hit two half-centuries in four innings.
Former captain and chairman of Pakistan’s selection committee Inzamam-ul-Haq said last month that Ali could be drafted into the side before the World Cup.
Teams have until May 23 to submit their final squads for the tournament which begins on May 30. Pakistan’s first game is against West Indies on May 31.
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