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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Mbappe and Messi’s magic lives on

Story by Mthokozisi Dube

The 2022 FIFA World Cup may be done and dusted, but there are key takeaways from the tournament, with Lionel Messi finally lifting the trophy, while Kyllian Mbappe showed he is the next-generation star.

Messi led Argentina to a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over France after the two teams had finished the extra time deadlock three-all.

Messi and Mbappe were the most talked about players going into the final and the two showed their class.

While the Argentinean scored a brace and set up another, Mbappe responded with a hat trick.

It was a painful defeat for Didier Deschamp’s men who were starring back-to-back World Cup titles, but Mbappe had every reason to be proud as he landed the Golden Boot gong after scoring eight goals at Qatar 2022.

The 23-year-old Mbappe has now equalled Brazil legend, Pele’s record of 12 goals in his 14 World Cup matches.

Mbappe is only the second player to find the target in successive World Cup finals after Vava, who scored in Brazil’s wins in 1958 and 1962.

With a one-goal deficit to match Mbappe ‘s tally, Messi is the proudest man after shrugging off the responsibility to lead the Argentines to their third World Cup crown, which could cap his career in style.

The 2022 World Cup victory is widely regarded as a status-defining and career winding for ‘Little Magician,’ as Messi is affectionately known, a man who has now won everything in world football.

Enzo Fernández, Alexis Mac Allister, Julien Alvarez and goalkeeper Emilio Martinez all played a significant role in making sure Argentina got to lift their third World Cup trophy.

22-year-old Aurélien Tchouaméni made sure that France did not miss the injured duo of Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante as he bossed the midfield from start to finish; while Oliver Giroud as usual contributed immensely to the French cause which sadly ended in defeat.

The final master class will forever be remembered by the football world, but the heroics of Morocco in Qatar will also live in the minds of the world, especially the African continent.

The Atlas Lions left an indelible mark by claiming the scalps of big guns Belgium, Spain and Portugal along the way to becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

There were other highlights with Bruno Fernandez and Bukayo Saka playing key roles for their teams even though they departed early, while Cody Gapko of the Netherlands showed exactly why he is one of the much-talked-about forwards in the world.

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