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Game for all ages

Rashneel Kumar
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What's in the numbers?

Today we take a look at some interesting numbers in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

They may be just numbers but the facts associated with them are quite intriguing.

Thirty-two teams of 736 players have the honour to participate in the world's biggest and most popular team sport.

As Fiji Football national coaching director Juan Carlos Buzzetti puts it, the "event that brings the world to a stop".

Here are some of the facts from as it takes a closer look at the numbers behind the men doing battle in Brazil:

236 of the players at Brazil 2014 have been called up to at least one previous FIFA World Cup. Spain lead the way in this respect with 16 World Cup veterans, with Uruguay (15) and Cameroon (13) second and third respectively. Of the Brazil-bound players, Faryd Mondragon has the lengthiest World Cup history, having made his debut at USA 1994. The Colombia keeper was also present at France 1998 alongside Samuel Eto'o and Gianluigi Buffon, who has become just the third player after Mexico's Antonio Carbajal and Germany legend Lothar Matthaus to be called up for a fifth World Cup.

100 per cent of Russia's players a record at Brazil 2014 play in the country's domestic leagues. England are only narrowly behind on 95.6 per cent, with 22 of their 23 players Celtic's Fraser Forster being the sole exception operating at home. By contrast, just 4.3 per cent of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Uruguay's players in other words, one of the 23 play their club football in the nation they will be representing.

68 will be the birthday reached by Fabio Capello during this FIFA World Cup, making the Russia coach the oldest coach at Brazil 2014. The Italian, who will also become the World Cup's fourth-oldest coach of all time, a list topped by Otto Rehhagel, who was 71 when he led Greece in 2010 is followed in Brazil by Uruguay's Oscar Tabarez (67 years, three months) and his successor as England coach, Roy Hodgson (66 years, 10 months). The youngest, meanwhile, will be Niko Kovac at 42 years and eight months, though Côte d'Ivoire's French coach Sabri Lamouchi is just one month his Croatian counterpart's senior.

58 players will celebrate their birthday over the course of Brazil 2014. First to blow out their candles, on June 12 the tournament's opening day will be Chile's Mauricio Isla (26) and Eugene Galekovic of Australia (33). Along the way, there will be festivities for the likes of Faryd Mondragon the tournament's oldest player will be 43 on June 23 and Lionel Messi, who turns 27 the following day.

29 is the average age that establishes Argentina as the oldest squad at Brazil 2014. Honduras, Iran, Portugal and Uruguay are La Albiceleste's closest rivals in this particular chart, with all four averaging out at five months younger than the Argentinians. At the other end of the spectrum, Ghana with an average age of 25 years and six months will be this World Cup's youngest.

18 years and one month old, Cameroon's Fabrice Olinga is the youngest player at Brazil 2014 and, if selected, he will become the ninth-youngest in World Cup history.

14 World Cup goals establishes Miroslav Klose as the most prolific of all the players heading to Brazil. Indeed, the veteran Germany striker needs just one more to equal the tournament record set by Ronaldo in 2006. Klose can also become just the third player to score in four different editions, a feat previously managed only by compatriot Uwe Seeler and the great Pele.

Times Sport local expert of the day is expatriate coach Buzzetti.

The man from Uruguay, who also holds an Australian passport, says it's unwise to predict the winner given the calibre of the teams in the World Cup.

He said the race for this year's title would be a close one.

"I never make predictions because you never know what's going to happen. The race is always a close one and it will be the same this year. I have been fortunate to have been to many World Cups in my 50 years of coaching career. This including the under-17, U20 and senior world cups with Australia and as a FIFA instructor.

"The World Cup is a very special event and history favours the South American countries including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay and we have teams like Germany, Spain, Italy and England who had won the World Cup at least once. It will definitely go down the wire.

"I will have to miss this year's World Cup but I am looking forward to watching it on television because it will be shown in all the channels here in Fiji unlike before where we had to rely on radio to get the updates.Television has made the tournament so real for people who cannot afford to be at the game venue and the types of TV sets we have these days, its like watching it live. World Cup is a very unique event that brings the whole world to a stop."

Buzzetti supports his native country Uruguay and also Australia.

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