James Rodriguez’s wonderful volley that helped Colombia sink Uruguay in the last-16 of the World Cup is clear favourite to win the 2014 FIFA Puskas Award.
The player to bag the best goal from the previous season lands the gong and the Real Madrid playmaker’s best efforts to tear the net from the Maracana goalposts makes him the 4/5 frontrunner.
Criteria such as ‘beauty of goal’ and ‘match importance’ are taken into consideration when the shortlist is compiled and, obviously, Ham-ez’s thunderbolt ticks all the boxes.
But in the uniqueness department, the 23-year-old’s effort falls short.
Plenty of balls have been planted in the top corner from range courtesy of a carefree swing of the boot and, for this reason, the race to land the Puskas Award isn’t as cut and dried as the odds indicate.
Robin van Persie’s majestic diving header against Spain in the same tournament is something of a snowflake – it’s unlike all others.
It also sparked the Netherlands’ comeback in their 5-1 demolition of then world champions Spain so can’t be questioned on grounds of importance either.
A more than worthy adversary to Rodriguez, Van Persie’s goal can be backed at a great value 7/2 to claim the laurels.
But in terms of skill, this goal can’t match up to Stephanie Roche’s sublime strike in Peamount United’s clash with Wexford Youths in the Bus Eirann National League.
She rates as a 16/1 outsider, but not no-hoper, for glory and this may well be worth a flutter.
From a political perspective, FIFA are likely to never have a better opportunity to present a female footballer an award of this magnitude given the sheer brilliance of Roche’s goal.
Were Rodriguez and Van Persie’s offerings not plundered on the grandest stage – one which the 25-year-old is exempt from starring on – there’s every chance she’d be favourite here and if the legions of voters take this into consideration, Roche will stand a much better chance of success than her odds indicate.