Prior to their pre-quarterfinal match at the 2022 Fifa World Cup, Achraf Hakimi had cautioned Spain that it should be a little afraid of Morocco. Having topped the group, the Arab nation deserved a “little respect”, he said. “And why can’t we pull off a surprise again?” Hours later, the 24-year-old emerged as a hero in Morocco’s stunning victory over Spain—one of the many upsets in the tournament, held in Qatar—with his decisive Panenka penalty and calm demeanour during the shootout. After scoring the goal that took his team to the quarters for the first time, he rushed to the stands to hug his mother, who kissed him on his cheek. What made the moment even more poignant was the fact that Hakimi was born in the Spanish capital Madrid before the family migrated to Morocco, where his mother cleaned houses and father was a street vendor. What is sport without such endearing moments? Or the emergence of new role models, especially those who have overcome socioeconomic barriers? And, of course, the shock that comes with the triumph of the underdogs? The year 2022 saw many such games, especially during the two marquee events: The Fifa World Cup and the T20 World Cup. In the latter, Namibia shocked Sri Lanka, who had won the Asia Cup only months ago; Ireland and Scotland both beat the West Indies; Ireland even won against eventual champions England; South Africa lost to the Netherlands, while Zimbabwe defeated Pakistan by a solitary run in the group encounter. “Upsets are good for the game. Cricket needed such a World Cup. The football World Cup, too, saw some fantastic results and magical moments,” says Vijay Lokapally, consulting editor, Sportstar. In Qatar, title favourites Argentina had to eat humble pie against Saudi Arabia, ranked 48 places below them in Fifa rankings; Brazil lost 1-0 to Cameroon; South Korea defeated Portugal, while Germany and Belgium crashed out early in the tournament. And Morocco continued its dream run by winning against Portugal in the quarters to enter the semis. Also read: Beyond the glamour of IPL auctions, a cricketer's struggle to surviveThese two global sporting events took place after the coronavirus pandemic when matches were played sans spectators. And, therefore, the excitement among sport enthusiasts was palpable. Lokapally explains why the football World Cup was a bigger, and more attractive, spectacle: “The Fifa World Cup is an international celebration of a beautiful game. The attention is global, the reach is massive—far bigger than cricket—and even the kind of frenzy you see in football does not exist in cricket. Every country has a style of its own; that doesn’t happen in cricket. And football generates far more revenue.” India had a torrid 2022 when it came to cricket, considered a religion in the country. It faced an embarrassing 10-wicket loss against England in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup, had a premature exit in the Asia Cup and lost the one-day international series against Bangladesh in December. “It has been a poor year. Our cricket has been most inconsistent,” says Lokapally, who has also authored books on cricketers Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.