All entries for Wednesday 02 December 2009

December 02, 2009

Who Should The Welsh & Scottish Support Now Ireland Are Out?

Right, so Ireland are not going to the World Cup this time. I shall refrain from commenting on the match (let’s face it, I only know how to swear in five languages, it just ain’t enough) and instead concentrate on the most overlooked part of the whole thing – who are Scottish and Welsh people to support? After all, there is no Celtic solidarity left (Brittany alone is not enough, Frenchies), and despite the fact that the Scottish fans love existential pain caused by perennial underachievement, they still won’t support England! So which of the 31 teams left will they go for?

I’ve heard tentative reports from Cardiff and Wrexham that some Welsh might be supporting England. These reports are unconfirmed and startling.

Let’s see who there is:

Australia


Good potential here, sufficiently Anglophone to be followed, a nice green kit lest the Scots and Welsh miss Ireland too much, and they have recent form in annoying England. On the down side this is the nation which got in a mard when the UK won more medals at Bejing, especially when one of those medal thieves was Scotland’s hero Sir Chris Hoy, derided for being king of a “sitting down sport”. Still, they’ve never slagged off curling.

Japan


An exotic choice perhaps, although an island archipelago with a historical tendency to conquer near neighbours might strike a bit close to home for those Scots and Welsh still in a mood about English behaviour hundreds of years ago (and yes, they exist). Presence of Shunsuke Nakamura might attract and repel Glaswegians depending on colours (although it’s worth noting that Rangers fans will have had more time to choose who to support at this WC as they’d support Ireland only if all other countries were destroyed in a nuclear war, and even then grudgingly).

South Korea


One for the Welsh perhaps? The current squad consists of six Lees and six Kims – substitute Lee and Kim for Jones and Williams and the Welsh will feel right at home!

North Korea


Impoverished and overlooked northern neighbour, intent on ideological victories over suffocating southern neighbour? Could the Scots find succour here? Alex Salmond doesn’t quite have the crazy nutter ‘charm’ of Kim Jong-Il, but the promise of a future with nuclear weapons might tempt some of those who think certain parts of England need a good nuking.

New Zealand


Chris Killen plays for Celtic! Who? You know, Chris Killen. Killen. Might be on loan somewhere else now I think about it… Ok, so NZ have the elation of getting there for the first time in decades, there’s lots of sheep, and the rugby occupies people’s thoughts more readily. Oh Wales, look, it’s a match made in heaven. Alas they will crash out in the first round almost certainly, so if NZ are chosen, so must another team to occupy the attention during the later rounds.

Argentina


There are stories which bounce around from time to time of Patagonian connections meaning high profile Argentine players can speak Welsh – it’s a skill attributed to Gabriel Heinze and Gabriel Batistuta, although the evidence is sadly lacking. But for both Scots and Welsh there’s the reassuring rivalry with England, as well as Lionel Messi’s entertaining genius. Sadly there’s also Maradona’s management style which is entertaining but possibly could result in embarrassment by association.

Brazil


Oh come on, who wouldn’t support Brazil, even a little? The history! The names! The way we totally overlook the fact that Brazil haven’t been the most exciting team to watch since 1986! The most likely default for many Welsh and Scots, but really it’s just lazy to go for Brazil.

Chile


Dark horses perhaps? Let’s face it, were Wales or Scotland to reach the WC that’s what they would be – dark horses. Chile offer all that as well as the ‘Who is he?’ quality which Wales’s team of shiny new players offers them against all non-British Isles teams they come up against. Less suitable for Scotland as their problem is not the “Who is he?” factor but the “Is he still playing football?” factor. David Weir, case in point.

Paraguay


Say it fast. Really fast. Now say it fast in a Welsh or Scottish accent. Now tell me it’s not a brilliant idea.

Uruguay


Say it fast. Really fast. Doesn’t work as well as Paraguay in any accent.

Honduras


For a team who seem to be systematically sending themselves over the Wigan Athletic one by one it’s quite impressive that they are in the WC. Definitely one for those who fancy a bit of underdog spirit, so the Welsh will feel quite at home with Honduras.

Mexico


Another country oppressed by association with its big, English speaking neighbour. If more Scots could speak Scottish (more than the fifteen or so who) this might make a nice comparison. As it is some Scots can feel at home with Mexico, if only because living in a drug gang infested, borderline failed state built on the plundering of imperial oppressors has to be preferable to some parts of Glasgow.

United States Of America


They think Scotland was liberated by Mel Gibson and don’t know Wales exists. Unless they are of Scottish or Welsh descent in which case they know the history of Scotland and Wales better than you, in which case avoid also lest you feel inferior.

Algeria


There’s one thing for certain, they’re probably the only nation out there right now more desperate to beat the French than the Irish are! Worth a follow for passionate entertainment value, they’ve had to fight (literally in the case of their fans) to overcome Egypt to qualify and they haven’t been at a World Cup since 1986. Plus Rangers fans can watch Majid Bougherra in action, something they can’t do at Ibrox since he got in trouble for coming back late from international duty with Alge… oh.

Cameroon


Their last WC appearance was ended by the Irish in the group stage so absorbing potential Ireland fans into their ranks would be very satisfying for the Cameroonians. One of the most successful African teams of recent years, they have the potential to do very well so are unlikely to satisfy the Scottish fan’s need for existential pain.

Ivory Coast


In 2006 Ivory Coast named a WC squad compromised entirely of players who played outside of Ivory Coast itself. This wanderlust approach will feel very familiar to the Welsh, most of whose squad play in England, and those few who remain at Welsh clubs play in the English league. Plus, as you can see, no need to shell out any more cash on flags to replace the Irish ones bought in hope.

Ghana


Qualified for five consecutive Olympic football tournaments before reaching a WC for the first time, for the Scots this will be familiar – recognition and success under the IOC not replicated much under FIFA is a common theme. Also one of their squad plays for King Faisal Babes, the best named team in the world after Peru’s Deportivo Wanka.

Nigeria


Slightly fallen from grace in recent years, but historically one of Africa’s strongest teams… almost writes itself really! A nation recently reduced to stereotypical, internet-based, mockery courtesy of a few dodgy emails, there’s also lots of natural energy resources just waiting to be utilised. So yes, Scotland with nicer weather.

South Africa


MacBeth Sibaya, midfielder and holder of fifty two caps, as well as king of Scotland. Can’t be nutmegged by any man of woman born.

Denmark


Responsible for France’s biggest ever footballing defeat (a 17-1 shellacking), whilst it is unlikely they will ever repeat such a satisfying performance again, it is nice to dream and as fellow Celts it would be much appreciated if the Scottish and Welsh could give a little love to those who have so comprehensibly smashed the French football team. It takes more than a handball to overcome a 17 goal handicap. Evil laugh

France


Just no. Apart from anything else they are taking Domenech with them as coach which should ensure, if not a first round exit (always possible), certainly a second round capitulation.

Germany


England’s biggest footballing foes, there are probably lots of good reasons why it’s worth supporting the Germans (they play quite nice football these days despite all stereotypes) but let’s face it, being England’s bete noir is enough.

Greece


Which Celtic fan doesn’t love the slightly ineffectual flappings of Georgios Samaras? Greece suffer for being really rather boring to watch, but as the unexpected (to the power of ten) winners of Euro2004 they stand as the shining beacon of hope for the smaller teams in a world where big nations seem to win everything. And they have really long names which anlgophones find hard to get their tongues around, although not quite to the extent of Welsh!

Italy


Y’know, they weren’t all that in qualifying. Qualifying in a group featuring Ireland. Who really should have showed the spirit they showed against France in which case it would have been Italy in the qualifiers and then all hell would have broken loose. Which would have been funny. One for those Scots with surnames like Macari, Ancona and Spiteri.

Netherlands


For Rangers fans with long memories, here’s Gionvanni van Bronkhorst’s team. Yes, he’s the captain. I know, I can’t really believe it either. Definitely one for the Scottish, not only does Orange (sic) complement blue perfectly, they can also relive the colossal infighting which did for Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mary I, James I, James III, John Comyn, and quite a lot of the other monarchs, claimants, regents and general nobles of Scottish history. It’s unlikely that any of the Dutch players will meet the same fate as Henry Darnley the notion of Nigel de Jong blowing up Ryan Babel is hilarious.

Portugal


By repeatedly knocking out England on penalties, the Portuguese have done everything necessary to incur undying Celtic (the race, not the football team) love for ever and ever, amen (both a Catholic and Protestant amen).

Serbia


Željko Brkić? Dragan Mrđa? Vladimir Dišljenković? Look at all those consonants! Look at the relative lack of vowels! Insert really obvious punchline about who they’d be ideal to support.

Slovakia


Living the dream – split from Czechoslovakia in a manner which the SNP loves to cite as an example of what they want to see happen (ignoring the obvious problem of only a minority of their countrymen wanting independence really), so for the Alex Salmond fans out there, the answer’s right here.

Slovenia


The only non-seeded team to get through Europe’s qualifiers, supporting Slovenia would involve making the point that the seeding was unfair and ridiculous as mere FIFA rankings cannot truly indicate how good a team is (does anyone really believe that Australia are better than Sweden, or that Wales are inferior to New Zealand?), and besides, why do some teams deserve seeding? Of the four that were, one lost, one had to cheat, one was boring and the other will probably live to knock England out on penalties for the third showing in a row. Sorry, I said I wouldn’t rant… Support Slovenia!

Spain


Glory hunter.

I’ll be following them too, once England get knocked out.

Switzerland


Is it wrong to want them to crash out because Sepp Blatter is Swiss? No. No it is not. One for Rangers fans and no one else.


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