Pierre Boisrond

Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Ten players who can make the difference

    After wrestling with my mind, I've decided to come up with this ranking that will help some of the soccer fans to see which players are capable to make a difference in Korea-Japan. There are many other players that could have been there, but these ten really catch my attention, and I do know that this ranking can be very controversial.

    In 1st place, we have found Zinedine Zidane. In 1998, the Frenchman made a mistake by getting a red card and therefore was suspended. This time, one can be sure that the French Superstar will not repeat this mistake as he is ready to retain the World Cup trophy. We must all admire Zidane for his technical skills because he is ready to conduct the French Orchestra by furnishing the appropriate notes to the deadly strikers such as Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet.

    In 2nd Place, we have found Juan Sebastian Veron. In Veron's mind, his only goal this summer is to silence the critics by bringing home the World Cup Trophy to the American continent. This year he has been criticized a lot at Manchester United, but he will be ready to obtain the FIFA Footballer of the year for 2002. For Bielsa, Veron is the pivotal point of the Argentina's attack. He is the maestro and with violinists such as Batigol and Crespo, the world will be ready to listen to the Argentine Tango Concierto.

    In 3rd place, we have found Rivaldo (Victor Borba). The Brazilian is brilliant, and he is ready to drive Brazil to the promised land. If the critics think that Brazil is done, they need to think it over because with members of the Samba Orchestra such as Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Brazil will always be Brazil. Rivaldo can beat any team at any given time. Don't think that the Brazilian forget about the humiliating loss against France in 1998. If Brazil meets France in Korea-Japan, the French will definitely go home. I have no doubt about that. I hope that Scolari calls Romario; He deserves to be part of the Samba Orchestra.

    In 4th Place, we have found Luis Figo, the FIFA Player of the year. If Figo needs to prove the world that he is the best player, then this summer will be his chance to bring the trophy back to Eusebio's birth land. The Portuguese is very talented, and with players like Rui Costa, Couto, and Conceicao, he can become a nightmare for the heavy contenders. Figo is capable of giving the coup de grace to his opponents. Only time will tell us, but don't count him out.

    In 5th Place, we have found Raul, the talented Spaniard. If I were making the decision for the footballer of the year for 2001, I would have given it to Raul. If Mendieta can get his confidence back to the same level when he was at Valencia, Raul will become a nightmare for the goalkeepers. He is a fantastic player and has the hope of driving Spain to the big dance. To do it, the Spanish Merengue needs to be in great accord to prevent another World Cup disappointment for Spain.

    In 6th Place, we have found Roy Keane. The talented Irish international is a true leader on the soccer pitch. Coaches from anywhere in the world would be tremendously glad to have Keane on their squad. His strength of character, his determination on the field, and his charisma to drive his team to success are some of the qualities that clearly put Keane in a league by himself. Even though Manchester United have such world class players as Veron and Beckham, Roy Keane is the pillar of the team; He is the motivator, the conductor, and definitely a leader on the soccer pitch. Without Keane, Alex Ferguson's team could have been in a lot of danger. The world will see this summer why I rank the Irish International in 6th place; He will drive Ireland to glory this summer and I rank Ireland to come out 1st in their group ahead of Germany.

    In 7th Place, we have found David Beckham. Beckham's objective is to lay Simeone's ghost. If this is true, then Beckham can find himself back very quickly to England. The British Superstar possesses the abilities to drive his country to the majestic prize. Accompanied by Owen, Beckham is ready to raise his game to the extreme highest level as he is about to erase the 1998 memories. This is his year, now it is time for him to prove that he is capable to bring back the trophy from the land of the rising sun to the land of the mother queen.

    In 8th place, we have found the talented Francesco Totti. In Italy, we all know that defense is the norm. However, to win the World Cup, teams must score. Thus, Francesco Totti could be the man to carry Italy to the final like Baggio did in 1994. He must become a leader on the field with such determination that is second to none. He has all the skills needed to rise up to the occasion, and that will be his time to demonstrate it. Surrounded by players like Alessandro Del Piero, Inzaghi and Nesta, Totti can become a major force in this World Cup. The question that Totti needs to ask himself is not "how good I am, but how badly do I want to join the ranks of Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer and his countryman, Paolo Rossi?" If Totti can answer this question, then it is fair enough to say that the World Cup trophy can find its way back to Rome, the eternal city.

    In 9th place, we have found Oliver Kahn of Germany. If Germany has a chance to go far in this World Cup, Kahn will be the player to make the difference. After all Germany is Germany, and everyone knows that the men of Rudi Voeller won't go out without giving a fight. At this current time, Kahn, the German goalie, will have to carry the team on his shoulders. He has the ability to do it, but he will have to face some world class strikers on his journey to bring Germany back to the top of the world. It is not going to be easy, but with a goalie like Kahn, any thing is possible. Will Kahn bring back the memory of Italy 1990 to Munich? We will have to wait for this. But this time, Kahn will not have the aid of Codesal, the Uruguayan-Mexican referee, who awarded a questionable penalty to the Germans in the 1990 World Cup final after Rudi Voeller was "fouled" in the penalty area. There's one thing we can be sure about is that Oliver Kahn will rise up to the challenge.

    In 10th place, we have found Henrik Larsson of Sweden. I select the Swedish International because he deserves to be there. I select Larsson because he continues to prove that he is in the same ranks of the Batistuta, Trezeguet, Crespo, Thierry Henry, Raul, etc. I select Larsson because many of us think that he does not fit to play in the Italian league, La Liga, or the Premiership. Albeit all his success, there are some individuals or even journalists who are still wondering whether or not Larsson can make an impact on this World Cup. My answer is a sounding yes. Larsson will be ready to silence his critics this summer and he might have to do it at the expense of England, Argentina and Nigeria. Remember that the ball is round for everyone, and surely Henrik Larsson will rise up to the task. Of course it is not going to be easy; no one ever says that winning a World Cup is a piece of cake; for Larsson, it's a matter of respect and the pride to defend the colors of his national team like Tomas Brolin did it in 1994. For Larsson, what matters the most is to play against the world's best players. To recognize as the best, Larsson knows that he has to beat the best. There won't be any doubt on his mind this summer as he is ready to drive Sweden to the great fiesta.

    Many of us might ask why I did not include such great players like Batistuta, Crespo, Trezeguet, Owen, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Thierry Henry, Rui Costa, and many others who deem to be in that list. We all know about these players and we all know that they are deadly and there's no doubt in my mind that these players will become a major headache for the opponents. My goal was simply to list 10 top players that could make a difference in the World Cup; of course the strikers will be mentioned since their sole objective is to put the ball in the bottom of the net. In order for them to do it, they will need the supporting cast to give them the ball. I choose to put Larsson in my top 10 because he does not get the respect that he deserves and he is the hope of Sweden.

    As the World Cup is approaching, we all are ready to witness this grandiose fiesta. It is a world celebration where nations are united to bring the joy to the world population. We hope and pray that the security forces shall do their jobs to eliminate any terrorist activities. We also hope that the referees and linesmen shall keep the games as clean as they should be by judging the games with equity. We pledge to the hooligans to keep it safe and to show some civility. No matter where we reside, we all shall come together to watch this world tournament. For myself, I've watched every World Cup since 1978. It is always a great moment for me to enjoy this tournament with family members and friends. I could always remember in which part of the world I lived for every World Cup that I've watched. I wish I could have watched my own country, Haiti, in 1974 WC in Germany but I was only five years old and therefore too young to remember anything. I hope that I'll live long enough to see my own country in a World Cup.

    For many countries, the World Cup is not about winning the trophy because by qualifying to this prestigious tournament, these countries are already winners. There is something special about this tournament that I cannot even find the right words to describe it. Perhaps it is the passion that I've seen in the eyes of my friends, the debate on the dinner tables with my family members, or even the passion of the Haitian fans that seem to be divided along the rank of Brazil, Argentina, France and Holland. Perhaps it was the passion of my schoolmates in Haiti who gave me the desire to appreciate the World Cup. Perhaps, it was the carnival celebration in Haiti after every game won by Brazil. Perhaps it was the celebration of Haitian Argentina's fans after any win over Brazil. Perhaps it was the Haitian celebration after the goal scored by Sanon against Dino Zoff of Italy. Perhaps it was the joy to be recognized by the young peers of my neighborhood as "Burruchaga". Perhaps it was the joy for me to name some of my young peers as a Haitian Zico, Dr. Socrates, Rossi, Dirceu, Eder, Sanon, Tresor, Platini, Fillol, Passarella, Tigana, Schumacher, Zoff, Leao, etc; Some even wanted to carry the alias of Pele and Maradona. Again, this is why the world cup will always be a special moment for me. There are many among you all that could have shared the same memorable experiences as a young kid. I could simply say that the World Cup is a passion, a memorable tournament, where every participated country is already considered a World Cup champion.



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