World Cup 2018 qualifiers

Croatia almost through, Northern Ireland go down due to controversial goal

Coach Michael O’Neill said he was ‘staggered and bewildered’ by a controversial penalty decision which gave Switzerland a 1-0 win.

Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill said he was “staggered and bewildered” by a controversial penalty decision which gave Switzerland a 1-0 win in their World Cup play-off first leg on Thursday.

Vladimir Petkovic’s Switzerland team dominated the match at a rain-swept Belfast but squandered a succession of chances.

The key moment came with just over half an hour to go, when Xherdan Shaqiri’s volley was blocked by Corry Evans in the box and the referee pointed to the spot, even though he appeared to have been hit on the shoulder as he took evasive action.

Ricardo Rodriguez made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending goalkeeper Michael McGovern the wrong way as the visitors finally made their superiority count to put them in the driving seat in the two-legged tie.

“The referee has no-one in his line of sight,” fumed O’Neill who must now rally his team for Sunday’s second leg in Basel.

“Corry’s arm isn’t in an unnatural position, it’s by his side. The ball hits him on the back more than anything. I thought the referee had blown for a foul or an offside. Nobody had claimed for it.”

“I’m staggered by the decision, staggered by the yellow card but there’s nothing we can do about it now. There’s anger in the dressing room in there. They feel very aggrieved about what’s happened.”

Croatia on brink of qualification

In Zagreb, Croatia cruised to a 4-1 victory over Greece to move to the brink of a spot at next year’s finals in Russia.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 13th minute, after Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis brought down striker Nikola Kalinic.

Croatia doubled their lead six minutes later when an unmarked Kalinic flicked in a low cross from Ivan Strinic.

The visitors pulled one back on the half-hour mark when captain Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored a header from a corner.

But just three minutes later, a quick Croatian attack down the right flank ended with Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic powering home a close-range header at the back post.

Andrej Kramaric tapped in to increase Croatia’s lead four minutes after half-time and leave Greece with it all to do in the return fixture on Sunday in Piraeus.

“It was a great match ... But this is only the first half, we should not relax. Nothing is over,” Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic told television channel HRT.

Dalic was named as coach in October after Ante Cacic was sacked following a damaging 1-1 home draw with Finland, as the team ultimately finished a disappointing second to Iceland in Group I.

“We played a great match. But we have only done half of the job, we should have a good rest and play a good match there (Greece) on Sunday,” Modric added.

“We could have scored more goals, but 4-1 is a great result.”

Croatia are looking to qualify for their fifth World Cup since 1998.

Papastathopoulos labelled the match a “horrible night” for his team.

“We made unbelievable mistakes, conceded too many goals which is not typical of us at all,” he said.

“After this, it’s practically 90 percent likely that we will not go to the World Cup.”

On Friday, four-time World Cup winners Italy take on Sweden at Solna while Saturday sees the Republic of Ireland travelling to Copenhagen to face Denmark.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.