Liverpool great and renowned football pundit Jamie Carragher has been left with an awful amount of egg on his face as some of his World Cup predictions came back to bite him.
Remarkably, Carragher tipped five of the six competing nations from Asia — Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan and South Korea — would come dead last in their respective groups.
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However, the former England international couldn’t have got it more wrong.
Australia, South Korea and Japan all made it through to the knockout stages, with the latter topping Group E with victories over European heavyweights Spain and Germany.
It is the first time in World Cup history three Asian teams have made the last 16.
Although Iran didn’t make it to the Round of 16, they also did not finish last as they secured a famous last-gasp win over Wales, who Carragher tipped to come second in Group B.
Funnily enough, the only Asian nation Carragher did not predict to come last was host nation, Qatar, who lost every single game and scored only one goal.
And even though Carragher also got Saudi Arabia’s last place finish in Group C correct, they came from behind to beat World Cup favourites Argentina in an upset for the ages.
GERMANS MOCKED OVER EARLY EXIT
A Qatari TV show has brutally mocked Germany after the four-time World Cup winners were dumped out in the group stages for the second successive tournament.
Despite a 4-2 win over Costa Rica, Germany failed to qualify as Japan produced a stunning upset over Spain which meant the Samurai Blue would top the group on six points while Spain finished on four.
However, the German team’s most memorable moment in Qatar was perhaps their pre-match protest before the opening game against Japan.
For the team photo, every German player covered their mouth as a way of protesting Qatar’s human rights abuse and strict laws against homosexuality in the nation.
Germany went on to lose the match 2-1 and faced criticism from some quarters that felt the team focused too much on the protest rather than the game itself.
They recovered to draw with Spain and smash Costa Rica, but it was ultimately all for nothing.
And a group of people on a Qatari TV show couldn’t help but poke some fun at the Germans, as they all sat around on coaches waving goodbye with their hands covering their mouths.
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FANS WARNED OVER OFFENSIVE CHANTS
Fans at the high-stakes World Cup group match between Serbia and Switzerland were told to “stop all discriminatory chants and gestures” as tensions on the pitch boiled over.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the announcement during a match that the Swiss won 3-2 to advance to the last 16 and eliminate Serbia, but it followed a confrontation between Swiss captain Granit Xhaka and Serbia players.
The argument in the second half drew in Switzerland forward Breel Embolo and Serbia substitutes ran onto the pitch at Stadium 974 to remonstrate with Swiss players before the referee brought the situation under control.
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Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic said he did not know what sparked the incident.
“Something was said to the players maybe. I don’t know what happened really. I can’t tell you the reason why and what happened exactly,” Stojkovic said in the post-match press conference.
“Sometimes the tensions come and some maybe bad words can create some uncomfortable behaviour, but it’s nothing special. It’s normal let’s say for this kind of game.”
It is not the first time that a World Cup match between Switzerland and Serbia has been played in a tense atmosphere.
At the 2018 tournament in Russia, Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals in Switzerland’s 2-1 win by making the two-handed eagle gesture to mimic the Albanian flag, enraging the Serbia players.
Xhaka and Shaqiri come from families with roots in Kosovo, the former Serb province with a majority ethnic Albanian population.
The underlying source of tension is Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. The latter does not recognise the move and has encouraged Kosovo’s Serb minority to remain loyal to Belgrade.
Shaqiri scored again in Friday’s match in Qatar but did not make the two-handed gesture on this occasion.
Serbia are already being investigated by FIFA after the team hung a controversial flag in their changing room before they lost to Brazil at this World Cup.
The Kosovo football federation filed a complaint with the world governing body after photos showed a version of the Serbian flag with a map that depicted Kosovo as part of the country and included the slogan “there will be no surrender”.
FIFA REVEALS CRUCIAL FOOTAGE THAT DECIDED CONTROVERSIAL JAPAN WINNER
FIFA has revealed the footage they used to make the ruling on Japan’s controversial winner against Spain.
The Samurai Blue’s winner was initially disallowed as the linesman adjudged the ball to have gone out of play before it was crossed into the box and finished by Ao Tanaka for Japan’s second goal.
But after a lengthy VAR check, the decision was overturned and it sparked jubilant scenes amongst the Japanese team.
A day after the game, FIFA posted the video they used to make their divisive judgment on their social media.
However, the decision to post the video came in for criticism given fans inside the ground and watching at home do not see the same angles and footage the officials do.
Manchester United legend Gary Neville was one figure who took aim at FIFA.
“Why don’t you allow access to the real-time angles and footage that VAR officials are looking at to broadcasters?” Neville wrote on Twitter.
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