Divided loyalties in Qatar
Some footballers playing against people they love
The World Cup in Qatar has produced moments in which teams have been punished by people they either have direct or indirect links with. Sihle Ndebele picks three moments of this ambiguity.
Breel Embolo (Switzerland v Cameroon)
Embolo was born in Cameroon. The 25-year-old striker, who plies his trade with French League 1 side AS Monaco, scored a solitary goal that handed Switzerland a 1-0 win over his country of birth Cameroon last Thursday in a Group G tie in Qatar. Embolo shrank from celebrating his goal as a sign of respect to his home country.
Embolo’s parents separated when he was a toddler. The striker’s mother moved to France to attend school. While in France, she met her future husband, a Swiss national. The following year, the family moved to Basel. Embolo would receive Swiss citizenship on December 12 2014.
Japan scorers v Germany
When Japan stunned one of the tournament’s favourites, Germany, 2-1 last Wednesday the scorers were players familiar to the German people. This is because scorers Ritsu DOEan and Takuma Asano ply their trade in the Bundesliga for SC Freiburg and VfL Bochum. In the German squad, 19 of them play at home, meaning they are familiar with DOEan and Asano. In fact, DOEan has two Freiburg teammates in the World Cup squad: Mattias Ginter and Christian Gunter.
Saudi Arabi v Argentina
Of the 11 Saudi Arabia players lined up on Tuesday to play against Argentina, nine were from Saudi champions Al Hilal, who are coached by Argentinian mentor Ramón Ángel Díaz. And crucially, Saleh alShehri and Salem al-Dawsari, the scorers of both Saudi goals in the historic upset against the Lionel Messi-led Argentina, are also Al Hilal players. Many praised Díaz’s influence on his players in the Saudi squad.