CAPE TOWN – Will France become second-time winners of the Fifa World Cup, or will the brave warriors of Croatia rise again and provide us with the ninth country overall to have won the sport’s holy grail?
The teams clash at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in the final on Sunday and, although many would give France the edge in a duel between evenly matched teams because the eastern Europeans have had an exhausting run of games in the knock-out phase of the tournament, the team led by midfielder Luka Modric of Real Madrid are nothing if not fighters.
Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Wednesday’s scorers against England - Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic - are among Croatia’s heroes, who have come through two penalty shoot-outs and a third match which went to extra-time, to reach the final.
France won the World Cup in 1998 with current coach Didier Deschamps then still a player. In that tournament, France beat Croatia 2-1 in the semi-final, with the Croatians squandering a lead in the match in the Stade de France.
England play Belgium in the third-place play-off tomorrow at the St Petersburg Stadium.
At Wimbledon over the weekend, two South Africans could bring some Grand Slam glory to the country.
On Wednesday, Kevin Anderson snatched quarter-final victory from the jaws of defeat against defending singles champion Roger Federer; and, today, he goes up against American John Isner in a semi-final of the tournament.
Yesterday, another South African, Raven Klaasen, and his Kiwi partner Michael Venus, barged into the men’s doubles final in four sets. They beat Briton Joe Salisbury and Dane Frederik Nielsen. The duo will face Americans Mike Bryan and Jack Sock in tomorrow’s final.
Klaasen lost in the 2014 Australian Open doubles final, with American partner Eric Butorac.
In cricket in Galle, Sri Lanka, the Proteas are playing in the first Test.
Dale Steyn needs only two wickets to surpass Shaun Pollock’s record of 421 wickets in the five-day format.
Sports Staff and dpa