2018 WILL BE A BUMPER YEAR FOR SPORT !
2018 looks set to be a bumper year for sport with the usual annual set pieces being added to by three major events that come along only every 2 or 4 years.
First off in February is the Winter Olympics being held in Pyeong Chang South Korea from the 9th to the 25th February which may not interest the local Thai population but will be of major interest to many other people across the globe who have come to settle in Thailand ranging from Canada, Russia, America Japan and the Scandinavian countries especially.
Secondly we must mention a real treat for the many thousands of people who play golf in Pattaya and across Thailand is the 42nd Ryder Cup which is being held from the 28th to the 30th of September in France this year at the Albatros Course at Le Golf National just outside Paris.
The odds suggest that the USA are slight favourites but with both teams fielding players of world class and the sides being captained by Thomas Bjorn for Europe and Jim Furyk for the USA this should be a pulsating competition that will go right to the wire. With Europe being able to field players of the quality of Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia and the US with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and last year’s winning machine Justin Thomas the stage is well and truly set for a fantastic event in France.
Thomas Bjørn and Jim Furyk recreate an iconic moment in history by hitting golf balls off the famous Eiffel Tower, 41 years after the legendary Arnold Palmer became the first – and only previous person – to do so.
WORLD CUP - JUNE/JULY
From 14 June to 15 July 2018 the World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup and is scheduled to take place in stadiums across Russia. With the strength in depth at this year’s competition from the likes of France, Spain, Germany, Brazil and Argentina all fielding fantastically strong squads of players and with lively outsiders like Belgium, Portugal, Croatia and Uruguay (and dare I say England ?) we look set for a fantastic tournament.
The World Cup group stage has already been drawn and should produce few surprises and will enable all the seeded and strongest teams to qualify for the knockout stages :
Group A for example which includes Russia,Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay will give the hosts little excuse if they fail to qualify.
Group B in which both Spain and Portugal should have little trouble in easing past Morocco and Iran to qualify.
Group C where the slight favourites for the tournament France, who have what is generally considered to be the strongest squad of players this year should comfortably qualify from a group that includes Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Group D’s Argentina should qualify but it will be no easy task against Croatia and Nigeria who will both field plenty of top quality players and Iceland who as any England fan will tell you are strong, well organised and very difficult to beat.
Group E’s favourite team Brazil look to ease through with Switzerland and Serbia fighting for 2nd place ahead of Costa Rica.
Group F See Germany up against Mexico, Sweden and South Korea but again they should qualify for the knockout stages as they always do. The 2nd qualifying spot being a hard fought battle between the remaining 3.
Group G features England, Belgium, Tunisia and Panama and frankly if either Belgium or England fail to qualify from this group they should be ashamed of themselves.
Group H finally features Poland, Senegal, Columbia and Japan. This last group is wide open where I would think all 4 teams feel that they have a genuine chance to make it to the knockout stages.
With Thailand being just 4 hours ahead of Russia the matches are perfectly timed to entertain the thousands of football fans in Pattaya throughout the evening. I’m sure the bars will be delighted at the timings for this event and look forward to the prospect of many beers being sunk over the hours and hours of football being screened this June and July
The above events, will add to the usual yearly highlights of the Masters Golf in April, The UEFA Champions league final in May, The Tour de France in July The British Open in July. Of course not forgetting the year long Formula 1.Championship where Lewis Hamilton who won his 4th Drivers’ Championship last year has his sights set on a 5th title this year which would incredibly put himself in hailing distance of Michael Schumacher’s 7 world titles. I’m sure that 2018 will really be a bumper sports year !