Monday, June 24, 2024

Maurice Edu and Alexi Lalas Talk Theories on Upcoming FIFA World Cup Storylines | VIDEO

Maurice Edu
Maurice Edu is part of the FIFA World Cup Team on FOX

*Recently, I was invited down to the Monarch Rooftop Hotel in New York City for a meet-and-greet introducing the Fox FIBA World Cup 2022 coverage team, which will feature former United States Men’s National Teamers Alexi Lalas and Maurice Edu, along with John Strong, Stu Holden and Jenny Taft, among others production executives, marketers and journalists. 

The World Cup will take place in Qatar this year and the United States Men’s National Team is being predicted to make it out of Group B, which will feature Iran, Wales and England-the strongest team in the group.

Another tantalizing storyline is the increase in native-born coaches in African nations. For the first time ever, all participating African nations will be coached by an African.

Maurice Edu, a former professional soccer player in the highly competitive Scottish Premier League, Major League Soccer (U.S.), Premier League and Super Lig tells us some of his World Cup predictions while former United States Men’s National Team defensive stalwart Alexi Lalas tells us how far he thinks team U.S.A. can go.

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EURweb.com: What are some of the storylines that you’re looking to see resolved in this upcoming World Cup?

Maurice Edu: I want to bring up the player, Yunice Musah. As much as we like to talk about the stars, the Ronaldos, the Messis, and all those guys, I love seeing somebody who has been in the shadows or merely whispered about, step out and announce themselves. I think Yunice Musa could be that guy for the United States. 

I like his profile, who he is as a player, he’s a kid that you always see on camera smiling, a kid that young black kids can look up to and say ‘Oh, I wanna be like him.’ Within the DNA of this team there’s a lot of diversity. I think that’s something that should be celebrated and I’m excited to showcase that and highlight how far we’ve come as a sport in this country. 

There’s still a great deal of conversation and promotion of inclusion and trying to get more and more minorities into this game. You look at this US National team that’s going to the World Cup, you talk about diversity? There’s going to be plenty of it.

EURweb.com: What do you think of the phenomenon of more African countries allowing homegrown coaches to manage their teams? Do you think it matters?

Maurice Edu: I like the idea, you know? I think there’s a certain element of celebrating individuals that you’ve developed at home.  I also think that, for too long, the dependency of African countries on foreign coaches. This is happening with a few other countries as well, beyond African nations.

I really like the idea. I think if someone is qualified then give them the opportunity. Sometimes I think you see a different level of buy-in from players, and a different layer of passion from the coaches as well because it’s a country that they take real pride in. It’s not just a job, per se. But they’re fully invested in it. These are their people, they’re one of the people. So, I think, for all those reasons, there definitely can be massive benefits to that.

If you’re trying to promote the game in your country, being able to have representation, not just of players, but in the prominent positions and positions of power, and coaching the national team is one of those positions.

If you’re a manager and you’ve come up through the ranks, who has excelled and is qualified, give him the opportunity. Why not? We’ve never seen an African nation win a World Cup. Imagine that happens and the team is being coached by one of their own. 

At one point, Alexi Lalas was synonymous with homegrown soccer in the United States. The steadfast defender was on the national team from 1991 through 1996 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. 

Alexi Lalas
Alexi Lalas joins Maurice Edu and Chad Johnson as part of the FOX World Cup news team.

EURweb.com:  It does sound strange to say this, and you’re a humble dude, but you did carry US soccer at one point. Coming into this World Cup, many people are very enthusiastic about the Americans. How do you feel about Team USA’s chances? There have been times when our hopes were pretty high and we went home early.

Alexi Lalas: Through all the excitement, I’m cautiously optimistic that this team can do some great things. They not only make us “Oh and Ah” but they also make us believe in our chances. When the World Cup begins we’ll be one of the youngest teams there. They’re going to make some mistakes, but everybody thinks because they’re younger and less experienced that it’s a bad thing, but I disagree. 

EURweb.com: They don’t know what they don’t know.

Alexi Lalas: Exactly. I think Matt Turner’s going to be in goal for us, and he’s gonna have to make some big saves. I actually think because there’s less pressure on them, they might rise to the occasion. He doesn’t play in the traditional way but I think he might bring some things to the table in terms of his quickness and the things that he does. 

From an attacking standpoint, there’s no real goal scorers.  Jesus Ferreira, I think is the incumbent starter up there and I actually think, because there’s less pressure on him, he might rise to the occasion and surprise a lot of people.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar starts on November 20 with the host team taking on Ecuador. The United States will play Wales as their opener.  The last time the two played was a 0-0 draw in an international friendly match in 2020. Wales drubbed the UNMT 2-0 back in 2003 as well.

As far as African teams go, Senegal plays a tough Netherlands team in its opener.  Meanwhile, Cameroon will face Switzerland in its opener while Ghana faces off against a strong Portugal men’s team.

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