Wins by Otters, France leave Chtara in good mood

Joe Avento • Jul 10, 2018 at 9:28 PM

You didn’t need an interpreter to know what kind of mood Mehdi Chtara would be in as the Tri-Cities Otters prepared to take on Memphis City FC in a Premier Development League soccer game Tuesday night at Kermit Tipton Stadium.

Just hours before the Otters’ 2-0 victory, Chtara’s native country of France clinched a spot in the World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Belgium in the semifinals, and like the rest of his countrymen, he was ecstatic.

“The game was perfect,” Chtara said in French as teammate Ayuk Tambe translated. “I’m happy that we won.”

Chtara has watched all of France’s games during the World Cup and he has been impressed by the team ranked seventh in the world.

“They’re very good,” he said. “They play very collective. It’s exciting to watch. They’re very physical and they know each other.”

France, trying to win its second World Cup — the first one came in 1998 — will play either England or Croatia in Sunday’s championship game. Chtara said he has a feeling it will be Croatia.

“They are very good, too,” he said.

His teammate George Stanley, who comes from England, will be hoping Chtara is wrong. England and Croatia play Wednesday in the second semifinal.

“We’re so excited,” Stanley said. “This is huge. It’s been a lot of fun, especially with so many guys from so many nationalities here. I just love the whole atmosphere about it.”

With players from 19 countries on the Otters’ roster, the World Cup has been a fun time for the teammates to get together and watch their countries’ national teams compete against each other.

“It unites everybody,” said Chtara, who added that he’ll watch the final with his teammates. “They all support their team. It’s been fun to watch.”

Nobody has had more fun that Chtara, who made one more prediction about the final.

“I think France will win, maybe 2-1,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Guillermo Segovia and Shalom Dutey scored first-half goals and the Otters made them stand.

Segovia scored in the sixth minute on a 30-yard rocket. Dutey’s goal, which came just seconds before halftime, came when he gathered a loose ball after a corner kick and fooled the Memphis goalie with a shot from inside the penalty area.

The Otters improved to 5-6-2 and play their final game of the season Saturday night, at home against Tormenta FC.

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