World Cup fever

Head coach Kos Donev has been in charge of FAU’s men’s soccer team for over two decades, so it should come as no surprise that the European native is very opinionated about the main event of the world’s most popular sport: the FIFA World Cup.

Soccer’s ultimate showdown, the World Cup — which occurs only once every four years — has been going on since 1930, and yet only seven different nations have been able to come out of the tournament victorious. That could change this summer, as 32 nations take to the field for the first World Cup ever to be played on the African continent.

The UP spoke with Donev to talk about his thoughts on the 19th edition of the tournament, set to kick off in South Africa. From who he thinks will win it all, to how he plans on watching the tournament, here’s what Donev had to say:

UP: What is your earliest World Cup memory?

Donev: The 1974 World Cup was my very first World Cup that I watched, which was held in Germany. Prior to that, I played soccer, but I could never really watch it on TV as a kid. When I took my first World Cup, I was hooked on the TV, watching every game.

UP: Did that basically make you decide that you wanted to be a part of soccer for the rest of your life?

Donev: I really think so, because at that time I was around the age of 12 or so, and although I was playing with the kids on the streets and so forth, when I saw the first World Cup, that’s when everything clicked.

 

UP: Where were you when you watched that first World Cup?

Donev: I was in my former country, which is Yugoslavia and now is Macedonia, and I was in my village watching in my neighbor’s house.

UP: What do you think of this World Cup, the first one to ever be held in Africa?

Donev: As the world has seen many different changes, I think certainly the timing is right for the event to be held in different parts of the world and different continents where everybody has the opportunity to view these events. It is an awesome thing that FIFA has given the chance for other places to bid [to host the event].

UP: What are your plans for the World Cup? Will you be watching a lot?

Donev: I’m going to be trying to watch as much as I can. At the university we run 10 weeks of soccer camp, so we’re going to try and incorporate our camp with the World Cup, and try to at least once a week make it to campus [to watch] one of the morning or afternoon games at the Student Union or cafeteria, whatever I can record. And on the weekends I’ll pretty much be taken by the games.

UP: I’m guessing the players are excited for that.

Donev: The camp is excited [and] the coaches are excited, so it’s going to be a World Cup-fever camp.

UP: Who are your favorites to win the World Cup?

Donev: I really like and favor Spain. Primarily, they have players that come from a number of quality club teams, but particularly Barcelona and Real Madrid. The way the players mesh together, their camaraderie, the way they play on the field, it seems like they all know each other and things click well. They have a very, very good chance to win.

UP: Going the other way, which teams could you see disappointing?

Donev: In my opinion, I think Argentina is going to be a team that obviously has all the quality players, but I think they are going to be disappointing at this World Cup.

UP: What are your expectations for the U.S. team?

Donev: I think the U.S. is going to fare well in the World Cup. They are going to get out of the group they are in, and they are going to surprise England. If they surprise England, they just have to stick to their game plan and not get hyped up too much about that game, whatever the result is.

UP: Who do you think will win the Golden Boot, the award given to the tournament’s highest goal scorer?

Donev: That’s a tough one. Most likely it could be a Spanish player. I’d say David Villa.

UP: What other players from other countries are you expecting to do well?

Donev: I think Wayne Rooney is going to do very well for England. And although my disappointing prediction was Argentina, I think that Lionel Messi is going to do extremely well this World Cup compared to what he did in 2006.

UP: Give me a prediction: Who will be in the final, and what will the score be?

Donev: If I predict Spain to be the winner, they have to be in the final. The other country will be a European country. It could easily be someone like France. Scores in finals are usually low, so I’d say 1-0 for Spain.

Past World Cup winners

Brazil: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

Italy: 4 (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)

Germany: 3 (1954, 1974, 1990)

Argentina: 2 (1978, 1986)

Uruguay: 2 (1930, 1950)

England: 1 (1966)

France: 1 (1998)