Why World Cup champions struggle

SOMETIMES you wonder why reigning world champions crash out of the group stages.

Hey, Germany isn’t the first reigning champion to be booted out. It isn’t even the second. It’s the third in a row, and the fourth in the 21st century – the fourth of the last five.

I posed the question to Singapore’s award-winning coach Jita Singh, now in Qatar for the World Cup,  and in his views, is it “almost impossible”. He said: “Perhaps the answer, in short, is that four years is a long time. 

LUCK FACTOR In my view, as a qualified international coach and referee instructor, every title is a product of countless successes that build on and complement one another.

Hopefully, France, the  reigning world champions, may make a rare difference. They have won just once in their last six fixtures, but still head to Qatar as one of the favourites. 

DIFFERENT TEAM Yes, the tried-and-trusted system becomes unworkable. It sometimes requires tweaks. And, as you see, the so-called defending champ is a completely different team – new players, new tactics, and either a manager drilling a Plan B or a new boss altogether.