Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local Sports

June 24, 2014

Gonzalez says there are lessons to be learned from FIFA World Cup

JACKSONVILLE —

Jacksonville College head men's and women's soccer coach, Rafael Gonzalez, has been watching World Cup play faithfully since the mid 80's.

So when he said Monday that the 2014 FIFA World Cup, currently nearing the end of the Group Stage in venues scattered throughout Brazil, was one of the best World Cup presentations that he could remember, one realized that the spectacle that is currently unfolding is truly a sporting event to be long remembered for soccer fans across the globe.

“Any soccer event is big for me,” Gonzalez said. “But when it's World Cup time people know to not not bother me because it is a special time that doesn’t come around but once every four years.”

Gonzalez said that one thing that has made this year's World Cup different from practically all the rest is this the number of upsets that have taken place — world powers such as Spain and England have been eliminated in the Group Stage, while smaller countries such as Nigeria and Ghana have excelled on the pitch thus far.

“In this year's World Cup many of the teams that were expected to win haven't won and have been some of the first teams to be eliminated and that has been a real shocker,” Gonzalez said. “So many of the so-called smaller countries have really stepped up their games and have come to Brazil to play.”

Gonzalez said that he feels that these teams' wins are not a fluke and their results is the product of some careful planning.

“The smaller nations are not only allocating more of their resources towards soccer, but they are sending their top players to compete at the highest level,” he explained. “I know Nigeria sends several of its players to play in the European League and the French League and when these players return home they are even better soccer players because they have been competing against some of the best teams in the world.

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