By Monojit Mandal

Football World Cup is an occasion of joy and family time together, with more so when Qatar World Cup is happening this year around Christmas, says Freddy Diengdoh, Asst Coach, Baichung Bhutia Football Academy in an exclusive interview with The Meghalayan.

“They don’t just call it the world’s most beautiful game for nothing. It is very much family time when every one of us at home would sit together supporting our favourite teams and players. Bets would take place, small arguments, and my father would tell us how football during his days was better, better players and so on. It created such a bond. This year will be even more special. The cold, Christmas on the horizon where all families spend time together, so it’s great.”

Freddy said he is very excited about this year’s WC edition as this is a unique World Cup that is happening in the winter season for the first time.

“I am very much excited about football as always. But even more, excited since it’s happening in winter during the ongoing league seasons and especially the festive season. “

Talking about the difference between Football World Cups during his childhood days and now, Freddy said, enthusiasm then and enthusiasm now are different due to certain reasons. Earlier it was more fun watching, but now being involved in the same trade, he focuses more on learning aspects.

“The enthusiasm then and enthusiasm now are completely different. Back then it was just the urge of watching it, to watch the Beckhams, the Ronaldos and all those legends. But now, it is more about gathering knowledge, seeing who plays beautiful football, understanding to analyze and also enjoy it like the rest of the world.”

Among the memorable World Cup incidents, Freddy shared a few that he cherishes fondly, “there are a few. France 98 was one though I was too young to remember much. The Gotze goal in 2014 and especially how Germany outplayed Lionel Messi. The Ronaldo show against Spain in 2018 and especially the 86′ show that Maradona displayed, his incredible goal against England, against Peter Shilton, his Hand of God still has me applauding.”

Freddy keeps Argentina ahead as the favourite for this World Cup, however, he also mentioned that in sports anything can happen and said it is difficult to predict which team will take the Chalice in the end.

“Every team have got good players this year, good preparation as well. Difficult to choose one but I would go for Argentina, they have the best chance. Germany as well has got good young players playing on big stages already, France, Brazil and even Portugal have got a chance considering the players they have this year. But in football, it is difficult to predict. You can play badly for 85 minutes, play well for 5 minutes and win and vice versa. That’s the harsh reality of football, we never know what to expect. You also need a little bit of luck.”

Freddy who is a great admirer and fan of Johan Cryuff, among players, said Jude Bellingham will be one he would like to keep his eyes on.

“Jude Bellingham is one, Pedri is another top talent who will be huge, a player I’m excited about. Bernardo Sliva can be the main man. Dusan Tadic, Milinković- Savic with Serbia. Vini Jr., Gabriel Martinelli with Brazil, Phil Foden, Jonathan David of Canada, Karim Ayedemi with Germany, and Ryan Gravenberch with the Dutch. Pierre Kalulu and Camavinga with France and many others. And of course, the magical Lionel Messi is without a doubt.”