The Greatest of all Time

Chapter 640 Brilliant Corner-Kick

Chapter 640  Brilliant Corner-Kick

With only one African team making it past the group stages, the support for Ivory Coast was animated and widespread. Football enthusiasts across the African continent rallied behind the team, hoping for a memorable victory against the hosts. Of course, the passion was more buoyant in Abidjan, the Ivorian Capital.

The streets of Abidjan hummed with excitement and unlimited expectations as Sunday, July 1st, heralded the clash between Ivory Coast and Russia in the World Cup round of sixteen. Among the throngs of fans making their way to bars and viewing venues that afternoon, three friends from Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny stood out. Kwame Bamba, Adeoluwa Soro, and Yannick Goué had decided to skip their final year research work, deeming the allure of the World Cup match too enticing to resist. They were bold and adventurous, eager to immerse themselves in the excitement of the game.

As they arrived at a lively bar in Abidjan, just half an hour before the kick-off, Kwame, Adeoluwa, and Yannick were met with an enthusiastic crowd of fans, all scrambling to get the best seats to catch the action. But the determined trio wasn't discouraged. They quickly spotted an empty table in the farthest corner - and then, with a shared grin, climbed onto it to secure their viewing spot.

The bar was alive with energy and conversations in French and other local languages as pundits on the screen analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of both Ivory Coast and Russia. Kwame, Adeoluwa, and Yannick leaned in, their eyes glued to the screen as the experts dissected the upcoming match.

"You see," Kwame remarked, gesturing at the screen, "Zachary Bemba will be key for us today. His performance in midfield can make all the difference."

Adeoluwa nodded in agreement, a look of expectation on his face. "Absolutely. He's the engine of our team, dictating the tempo and creating opportunities. If he's on form, we have a real chance. Even if Russia double-teams him the entire game, he'll still create two or more deadly chances for us."

Yannick, always the analyst, said, "But let's not forget the importance of our defense. Though Gbohouo has been excellent in goal, Aurier, Koné, Kanon, and Bailly must be at their best to counter Russia's aggressive attack. If we want to win, we must control the midfield and defend as if our lives depend on it. And wouldn't it be amazing if we could score early and stun their supporters into silence?"

It felt like they were the Ivorian players themselves, prepping for the big game in Russia. Everyone was eager to share their insights and predictions, each more passionate than the last. In the meantime, the atmosphere in the bar grew more explosive, with a tangible sense of unity and national pride filling the air. Fans of all ages had already gathered to support their team, and it was clear that nothing could dampen their spirits.

Minutes passed just like that, and as the clock ticked closer to the start of the match, Kwame, Adeoluwa, and Yannick exchanged nervous glances, the anticipation building to a crescendo. This was more than just a game; it was a chance for Ivory Coast to make history and advance to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

"Here we go," Adeoluwa said, his voice filled with anticipation as the players lined up on the pitch. "It's time for Zachary and the boys to show what they're made of."

With a collective cheer from the crowd in the bar, the referee blew the whistle, signaling the start of what promised to be an exhilarating and fiercely contested match between Ivory Coast and Russia. The eyes of the nation were fixed on the screen, hearts pounding with hope and excitement as the drama of the World Cup unfolded before them.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the world...

The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow pulsated with explosive excitement as Ivory Coast and Russia faced off in the round-of-sixteen clash. The energy was palpable as the clock struck 5:00 PM, and the game began. The Russian fans, draped in their national colors and waving flags, roared with animated passion, creating a mind-blowing cacophony of support for their team. The atmosphere became electric, with chants and cheers echoing through the stadium, spurring on the Russian players with every move.

On the pitch, however, the Ivorian players remained focused and composed, their eyes locked on the ball as they sought to settle into their 4-2-3-1 formation while finding a suitable rhythm. Ignoring the raucous cheers from the stands, they passed the ball with precision and purpose, forming triangles and maintaining possession as they looked to dictate the tempo.

At the heart of Ivory Coast's midfield was Zachary, a maestro—or rather, the maestro with the ball at his feet. Falling back into a defensive midfield role, he acted as the engine that drove his team forward, his incredible passing skills allowing Ivory Coast to keep control of the game throughout the opening minutes. With each crisp pass, Zachary orchestrated the flow of play, guiding his teammates with calm authority. As the game entered its 9th minute, Zachary decided to elevate his performance to another level. Receiving a return pass from Serey Dié, he saw an opportunity to exploit the space ahead. With a burst of sleek side-steps and agility, he weaved past not one but two Russian midfielders - Roman Zobnin and Aleksandr Samedov - leaving them trailing in his wake.

The field suddenly opened before Zachary, his spatial awareness coming into play as he spotted Wilfried Zaha sprinting down the right wing. Channeling his inner SS-grade Pirlo-esque flair, Zachary unleashed a sublime long-range pass that sliced through the Russian defense, finding Zaha in stride as he surged toward the opposition's half.

The Russian fans, who had been roaring moments ago, fell silent as Zaha controlled the ball with grace and precision. Like a whirlwind, he darted past Yuri Zhirkov, Russia's left wing-back, before delivering a curling ball into the penalty area.

However, Sergei Ignashevich, Russia's seasoned center-back, was alert to the danger. Reacting quickly, he intercepted Zaha's cross and cleared the ball out of play, conceding a corner kick to Ivory Coast.

The hush that had momentarily fallen over the stadium was broken by a collective gasp from the Russian supporters, followed by renewed chants and cheers as they urged their team to defend resolutely. The home crowd was on their feet after their defense thwarted an early Ivorian chance during the 10th minute.

That aside, the Russian coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, was also fuming on the sidelines. He barked orders at his midfielders, his voice echoing across the pitch as he admonished them for allowing Zachary to control the midfield in the opening minutes.

"Play like professionals! Stop Zachary at all costs! Don't allow him to do as he pleases! Don't allow him to deliver those long-range passes to the Ivorian wingers!" the coach thundered, his frustration evident in every word. Meanwhile, on the opposite end, Zachary was in the thick of the action, strategizing with Wilfried Zaha as they prepared for the corner kick. "Zaha, if you get the ball from me again, cut inside and take on the defenders," Zachary advised, his eyes alight with determination. "You'll have a better chance to create a scoring opportunity."

Zaha nodded, acknowledging the advice as he positioned himself in anticipation of the incoming corner kick. The other Ivorian players also crowded into the box, ready to pounce on any opportunity that came their way.

At that moment, the tension around the pitch had already risen again as the Ivorians prepared to take their corner kick. All eyes were on Nicholas Pépé as he swung the ball into the crowded box. Both teams sprang into action, determined to gain the upper hand. The ball sailed towards the goalmouth, but the Russian defender, Ilya Kutepov, reacted swiftly and appropriately. With lightning speed, he headed the ball away, conceding another corner kick.

Quick to adapt, Ivory Coast changed their strategy for the subsequent corner kick, opting for a routine they had practiced during training. With a simple signal from Pépé, Zachary, who had been waiting in the box, swiftly fell back—to the outside of the eighteen before the corner kick was taken. Quick to adapt, Ivory Coast changed their strategy for the subsequent corner kick, opting for a routine they had practiced during training. With a simple signal from Pépé, Zachary, who had been waiting in the box, swiftly fell back—to the outside of the eighteen before the corner kick was taken. Pépé wasted no time and sent the ball toward Zachary with pinpoint accuracy. That was when the magic happened! Vissit novelbin(.)c.𝒐m for updates

In a moment of brilliance, Zachary met the ball with a first-time swing of his boot, catching it on the volley with perfect timing from the edge of the box. The ball rocketed off his foot like a surface-to-surface missile, zipping through the sea of bodies in the box with astonishing speed and accuracy.

The Russian goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, was caught off guard as the ball thundered towards the goal. With a resounding thud, it struck the inside of the post before ricocheting into the back of the net. Silence!

The Russian fans, who had been raucous at the start of the match, fell into stunned silence as Zachary raced to the sidelines, his teammates engulfing him in jubilant celebrations. However, the atmosphere was much different in one corner of the stands as the African fans erupted in cheers. They roared with pride, their belief in their team reaffirmed by Zachary's brilliance.

The game had shifted gears in a flash, and Ivory Coast had seized the advantage during the 13th minute, thanks to Zachary's instinctive strike and the team's quick thinking on the set-piece. They were in the lead, the score now 1-0 in their favor.

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