Of Haaland & Salah, of club and country

Much brainpower is spent on trying to figure out why Indians – unlike Indian cricketers once upon a time – are lions abroad and lambs at home when it comes to research, business, enterprise, academic and professional excellence. ‘Conditions,’ we are told. Two remarkable footballers show how they ply their trade with superb aplomb in one stage, while not even figuring in another. Erling Haaland of English club Manchester City is a tour de force, already scoring an astonishing 45 goals this season with another 15 Premier League games to go. The other marvel is Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, whose goal-scoring record Haaland overtook on Tuesday.

And, yet, neither Salah nor Haaland feature in the biggest footballing stage of them all: the World Cup. Is it because they suddenly lose their josh on the international stage when playing other national sides? No. It’s because their two countries aren’t top footballing nations. Salah’s Egypt is 35th in the Fifa ranking, Haaland’s Norway, 44th. Effectively, current Premier League football’s – and arguably the world football’s – finest strikers can’t display for their country as they do consistently for their clubs because their countries aren’t good enough. The moral we take from this story: countries are clubs that allow less talent to flow and show their worth than clubs that are, well, clubs.

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