FIFA comment on Ronaldo: Fifa has referred to Cristiano Ronaldo as a “complete genius” for the way he secured a penalty for Portugal during their World Cup triumph against Ghana.
By scoring from the penalty spot, the 37-year-old made history by becoming the first player to score at five separate Fifa World Cups.
Otto Addo, the manager of Ghana, was incensed by the penalty kick award and said it was “not a penalty” despite Portugal winning 3-2.
Sunday Oliseh, a member of the Fifa technical study group (TSG), said that strikers are “becoming sharper” at a briefing in Doha.
The TSG, under the direction of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, analyzes each game and offers performance information and trends.
After 20 games in this tournament, nine penalties have been awarded, which is on track to reach the previous record of 24 that were given in the group stages in Russia four years ago.
Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Canada’s Alphonso Davies have seen their efforts saved, while the remaining seven have been scored.
This includes Ronaldo, who went down under a challenge from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu. Former England defender Matt Upson, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, called it a “dive”.
Ghana boss Addo was left fuming after the defeat and told BeIN Sports: “The referee gave a penalty which was not a penalty – everyone saw that. Why? Because it’s Ronaldo or something?
“The referee was not in our favor.”
But former Nigeria international Oliseh, who played at the 1998 World Cup, feels Ronaldo was clever in his movement to win the penalty that allowed him to score his 118th international goal.
“Maybe the strikers are getting smarter?” said Oliseh.
“The Ronaldo penalty, people can say what they want about him, but the smartness to wait for that second, to touch the ball, continue his leg and then get the contact. That is total genius.
“Let’s give strikers the compliment for getting smarter. VAR is also a major reason why this (more penalties being awarded) is happening. Referees can look at it three or four times.”
‘Teams will become braver’
There were four goalless games in the opening 16 matches, which set a new record of 25% in the first round of group games.
A fifth followed on Friday as England and the United States played out a stalemate in their second game of the tournament in Qatar.
The record number of 0-0 draws at the World Cup stands at seven, which happened at four different editions of the tournament, but Qatar 2022 is already close to that tally with only 20 of the 64 scheduled games completed before Saturday’s matches.
At the last World Cup in Russia, there was one goalless draw, between Denmark and France in a group game.
“Teams have not wanted to take too much of a risk,” said Oliseh.
“Clearly many teams are relying on a cautious approach,” added colleague Alberto Zaccheroni, who won Serie A with AC Milan and the Asian Cup when he was the coach of Japan.
“But as the tournament progresses we will see teams become a bit braver.”