Monday, August 29, 2011


Yes, it's an eco-friendly version of the "Well, I'll Be Damned!"Minnow of the Round award as we recognize the most adorable of Asian underdogs: Lebanon.

Setting aside the unlikely ascent of Tajikistan (who lost two matches, then got into the next round anyway by virtue of Syria getting disqualified), Lebanon is easily the most rank outsider in the third round of Asian qualifying ranking in the bottom half of Asian teams. They are 21 spots below Bangladesh, even after a 4-0 drubbing of the Bengal Tigers in Beruit (Hey, even in soccer the Bengals can't win!)

Despite that big win (recapped in English here), there hasn't been much to
celebrate of late. First Lebanon slipped into the next round despite losing 2-0 in Bangladesh. Then they bid farewell to the coach who led them this far (Emile Rustom) and brought back old coach Theo Bucker (Booker? Booger?). Add to this the whole Lebanon/Hezbollah/Arab Spring/general unrest thing and you have a place that's not exactly conducive to sporting glory. (To be clear though, I have to give credit to Lebanon writer Kenny Laurie who wrote a scathing smackdown of Sepp Blatter)

If the Cedars are going to have any chance against the slightly more intimidating force of South Korea's Taegeuk Warriors and the White & Blue of the UAE and Kuwait, they'll need the very best of 23-year-old star-in-the-making Hassan Maatouk (he of the Futsaal fame, pictured at left). It probably wouldn't hurt to get returns from Roda Antar and Youssef Mohamed (two Lebanese stars who have built careers overseas), and hey, while we're at it maybe punch Srecko Katanec in the face (he who claimed the UAE would quote: "have no problem with Lebanon")...clearly Mr. Katanec does not know much about Lebanon.

All in all we here at the Montanan Hooligans' World Cup Center want to go green as we cast our vote for best underdog in Asia. So here's to you Lebanon and your Mighty Cedars! Go forth and conquer...oh wait, you're trees...well, just stand still and conquer!

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