Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Trails #175-144

Some people sneak peeks at game scores between spreadsheets and meetings, I managed to find a way to sneak peeks at the results from World Cup qualifiers between activities and lessons. Heck, I tried to squeeze score updates into classroom conversation (it helps teaching world literature to kids from diverse backgrounds...all the more reason to say--and hey, since we've read about Sumeria let's check in on how their great, great, great (x10 to the 25th) grand kids are doing in world cup qualifying!).

But for now, let's just satisfy ourselves with digging into the nitty gritty of who fell flat, and why.

175 Where'd you go, Mauritius?
Why They Lost: Generally speaking, not playing the games at all doesn't help your chances. (Though being nicknamed the Dodos, an extinct bird probably didn't help any.) Mauritius became the third team to back out of the competition, due to lack of funds.
Who/What We'll Miss: Cheering for our favorite strikers from Mauritius' Pamplemousse FC (aka Grapefruit FC)

174 Ka Kite, Cook Islands
Why They Lost: They only have 24,000 citizens from which to draw a team (Helena could have a deeper bench)
Who/What We'll Miss: Food Network mistakingly airing games from Oceanic qualifiers.
Diamond Ott at Right

173 Tofa, American Samoa
Why They Lost: Despite having gotten schellacked by an international record score of 31-0 by Australia in April, American Samoa nearly got into Round Two of OFC qualifying. Needing a win against hosts Samoa in their final match they unfortunately lost 1-0 and went home in third place after notching their first four points EVER in World Cup Qualifying
Who/What We'll Miss: His last second near-equalizer almost made him a hero but really, just being named Diamond Ott makes you a winner in our books.

172 Mou Nofo A, Tonga
Why They Lost: Despite a win in their rivalry game against Cook Islands (known as the Battle for James Cook's Love) they couldn't come up with needed results against either American Samoa or Samoa.
Who/What We'll Miss: We have to assume the erstwhile "Friendly Islands" would have made a great host for various matches.

171: Ma'as salaama, Djibouti
Why They Lost: It sure looked like the Djibouti never stood a chance, getting whooped 4-0 on both legs of their home-and-away series with titans Namibia. So don't color us surprised.
Who/What We'll Miss: Let's be honest...north, south, east or west, "Djibouti" is about the most enjoyable name of a nation to say.
No luck for you
Kevin Betsy!

170: Orevwar, Seychelles
Why They Lost: Despite establishing themselves as the most dominant island nation in the Indian ocean, that's still a little like being the toughest kid in the sou-southeasterly corner of the sandbox, and they never stood a chance against the heavyweights in Kenya.
Who/What We'll Miss: It's a shame that after 14 years bouncing around the divisions of English football that Kevin Betsy's only been able to play a few games for the Seychelles, it's even more disappointing that he's done in World Cup qualifiers before he even got started.

169: Sala Kahle, Swaziland
Why They Lost: Perhaps the King's Shield was still riding high off a stunning win against Togo prior to the 2010 World Cup, but they looked totally over matched losing 8-2 aggregate to Congo DR.
Who/What We'll Miss: I had a grad school advisor who was tight with the King of based on two degrees of separation I'm sorry they came up so short.
mmmm....sponge bread

168: Nabad geylo, Somalia
Why They Lost: Inexplicably, after a 0:0 draw in the first leg the Ocean Stars got pummeled by Ethiopia 5-0 in the second leg.
Who/What We'll Miss: Minneapolis is a haven for Somalian refugees, it would have been nice to eat some canjeero during the matches from Brazil.

167: Tchau, Sao Tome e Principe
Why They Lost: Like Somalia, Sao Tome e Principe followed up a strong draw with Congo in the first leg with a brutal 5-0 drubbing in the second match.
Who/What We'll Miss: If Sao Tome e Principe had qualified for the second round they would have proven a remarkable story; coming back after 8 years off from relevant matches to pull a stunner like that? Amazing. Of course, they lost....but if it HAD happened!

166: Namkwaheri, Comoros
Why They Lost: Losing the first leg 4-1 in Mozambique dug a hole that the Coelacanth's could not come back from.
Who/What We'll Miss: In addition to a young and growing team, it's a shame that we no longer have a team in the competition whose nickname is a prehistoric fish.
Afewerki's stunned into silence
by my brutal burn

165: Selamet, Eritrea
Why They Lost: After two years without participating in international competition, the Eritreans might have been a little under prepared for the next round of competition.
Who/What We'll Miss: Another despotic tyrant's team is out of the picture, meaning one less figure to mock with the immunity of American internet anonymity. So let's get the joke out while we can: Isaias Afewerki impinges on freedom of the press so much he won't even let people iron their shirts! (KA ZING!!!)

164: Nabai, Guinea Bissau
Why They Lost: Despite being neck-and-neck with Togo through two legs of qualification, Guinea-Bissau fell a goal short because Emmanuel Adebayor loves crushing people's dreams.
Who/What We'll Miss: At 19, midfielder Zezinho is already a valuable part of Sporting's reserve squad. Maturing into a leader could make him and the Djurtus a future force.

163: N'agasaka, Burundi
Why They Lost: Only managing a 2-2 draw at home against fellow minnow Lesotho left the Swallows helpless to move on.
Who/What We'll Miss: The opportunity to keep running this video clip of Eddie Izzard's imagined cup of coffee with the president of Burundi (Pierre Nkurunziza)

162: Adieu, Chad
Why They Lost: The 2-1 loss at home gave Les Sao a lot to overcome in the second leg, and though they notched a win in Tanzania, the 1-0 score line had them head home on away goals.
Who/What We'll Miss: The chance to talk to the perpetually underrated Japhet "The Wizard" N'Doram.

161: Veloma, Madagascar
Why They Lost: After falling 2-0 in the oppressive oil baron dictatorship of Equitorial Guinea, and conceding another goal at home, Madagascar needed four second half goals to move ahead--they settled for 2 goals and a hard fought victory.
Who/What We'll Miss: Insinuating that they sold their national football soul to Dreamworks in association for positive references in the Madagascar cartoon series.

160: So long, US Virgin Islands
Why They Lost: Our "Well-I'll-Be-Damned" Minnow to Watch in CONCACAF's 2nd Round of qualifying had a problem keeping balls out of the back of their net scoring 2 and allowing 40 to finish last in their group.
Who/What We'll Miss: Finding more parallels between Tim Duncan and Peter Crouch.

159: See you later, Barbados
Why They Lost: While their goal differential of -12 is a far cry from USVI's -38, they still lost all six matches.
Who/What We'll Miss: I still love this set of Barbadian superheroes I found on a random google search...seriously, where can I find these action figures?

158: Bon swe, Dominica
Why They Lost: Deprived of two matches against Bermuda in Group C, Dominica was the weakest of that lot failing to score a single goal (see, something to be proud of Barbados/USVI)
Who/What We'll Miss: The chance to talk to our most random club team affiliation so far--Midfielder Chad Bertrand, born Dominican, yet playing in Goa, India.

157: Catch you later, St. Lucia
Why They Lost: Though they did muster a draw against St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia came up empty in all their other matches
Who/What We'll Miss: They still dance quadrilles for fun down there! It's like Jane Austen in a tropical climate!

156: Time to cash in, Cayman Islands
Why They Lost: The "Shell Corporations" round out our bottom five of CONCACAF because they, like their fellow cellar dwellars couldn't do much offensively or defensively (notice a theme coaches?)
Who/What We'll Miss: Tax evasion jokes

It's not like England
would try him again anyway
155: Gotta go, Grenada
Why They Lost: While Grenada has players among top flight leagues in the US and England, most are at/or near their 30 year old season, making them a little old to keep up with younger fresher teams.
Who/What We'll Miss: They are known as "The Spice Boys" which makes the chance of buying David Beckham's nationality before 2014 all the more tempting.

154: Fare thee well, St. Vincent/Grenadines
Why They Lost: Just a step ahead of Grenada, come the Grenadines who can thank their spot to an extra draw against Belize...of course it didn't help them win the group...but isn't beating Grenada more important? (No? Oh,
Who/What We'll Miss: Yet another cool nickname for a team: "Vincy Heat" can almost hear LeBron James switching teams again...

153: Adios, Nicaragua
Why They Lost: Handily beat Dominica both times they played but couldn't muster much against Panama losing both of those. Clearly they should have tried to play Dominica four times...that's just bad planning.
Who/What We'll Miss: The US Men's team could have had guinea pigs, iguanas, armadillos and boas in local restaurants! Frownie face for the foodies :(

152: Doei, Suriname
Why They Lost: Despite two solid wins, Suriname allowed 11 goals and scored just 5, leaving a clear gap between themselves and the leading teams in their group.
Who/What We'll Miss: We'd say goalkeeper Ronny Aloema, but as the goal difference shows he missed enough things for all of us (Sorry, Ronny...that might have been mean...)

151: See ya, St Kitts & Nevis
Why They Lost: If any team needed to hear the Mortal Kombat "FINISH HIM", it was St. Kitts & Nevis, 1 win and 4 draws left them with just 7 points. Switching just two of those results to wins would have left them top of the table.
Who/What We'll Miss: Atiba Harris--stealthy winger and all-around MLS gun-for-hire.

150: Best wishes, Belize
Why They Lost: Belize lost when it mattered most, giving Guatemala an easy route to round 2 with 3-1 and 2-1 defeats
Who/What We'll Miss: The general blood feud between Belize (formerly British Honduras) and Honduras (formerly Regular Honduras)

149: Ayo, Curacao
Why They Lost: While they scored 15 times only just eked out a positive goal differential (playing USVI might have helped with that though)
Who/What We'll Miss: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands knighting 9/10ths of the team...she knights pretty much everybody after all (heck, Sidney Ponson got knighted!)

I seek the futbol grail
148: Hasta la juego, Dominican Republic
Why They Lost: In all likelihood, the Dominican winter league probably had most players distracted.
Who/What We'll Miss: The Quisqueyanos have my favorite federation logo of this set of Happy Trails teams--I'm not sure why the ball is in some sort of chalice-type thing, but I like the classiness.

147: Hasta la bye bye, Puerto Rico
Why They Lost: It's very simple--if Ivan Rodriguez isn't blocking the plate or goal or whatever, Puerto Rico is not as strong as they could be.
Who/What We'll Miss: The opportunity to settle the whole Puerto Rican statehood issue by a game of football...not unlike the plot to the classic made for tv film FUTURESPORT!

146: Bye bye, Bermuda
Why They Lost: In the nip-tuck race to win Group B, Bermuda's draw to Guyana (on home turf) was the difference between finishing three points back and being on top of the group.
Who/What We'll Miss: As the last island left from that old Kokomo song, our last chance to sing chillaxed Beach Boys tunes is out the window.

145: Happy trails, Trinidad andTabago
Why They Lost: Honestly, your guess is as good as mine, T and T had a +7 goal differential, and a great start to their campaign. But the wheels came off the wagon in the final month dropping two matches to Bermuda and Guyana to open the door for Golden Jaguars to vault into the next round
Who/What We'll Miss: Stern John's swan song goes silent and the Soca Warriors last chance to relieve their glory days in Germany.

144: Au revoir, Haiti
Why They Lost: A mid-campaign swoon left Haiti needing two big results against Antigua & Barbuda to move on, while the 2-1 victory at home helped, losing 1-0 in St. John's left them one point short of the next round.
Who/What We'll Miss: Cheering on the rebuilding of Haitian pride through futbol would have made for a tremendous feel-good story, but with a scad of young talent coming into clubs in the US, UK and France, we won't miss Les Grenadires for long

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh...that's why 11.11.11. matters!

So, admittedly, I'm a little behind in posts (and if you think this blog's bad, you should see my other ones), but I thought I ought to post before tomorrow in advance of a major day in World Cup qualifying.

Apparently the powers that be in FIFA decided they ought to schedule matches on every continent on this most auspicious of palindromy days.  So, there's a whole mess of soccer going on tomorrow: here now, the matches we're most excited to see on each continent:

South America:
Chile v.s. Uruguay; It's more than just the match up of two countries whose names sound like English language words--it's the rising power of South America (complete with greasy haired stars in the making), versus one of the continents perennial dark horses. So, senors, bring it on.

North America:
Antigua & Barbuda v.s. Haiti; So Haiti--despite all the financial, bureaucratic, and--you know--earthquake-y related things, was actually favored to win their group. Then along came underdogs Antigua & if you think about it: we're guaranteed to see one adorable underdog vault into the next round...and see another underdog suffer humiliating defeat and broken dreams.

Saudi Arabia v.s. Thailand; While I'm biased in favor of the Elephants and have made more than my share of jokes at the expense of the turmoil in Saudi Arabia, the match will be crucial to finding the second-place team in the group. Australia's guaranteed the top spot (barring some kind of freak team-wide spontaneous combustion), so this one will matter more than a little.

Somalia v.s. Ethiopia; Here's the real barnburner, and while it's not the highest profile match and doesn't have any of the big name continental stars; as a Montanan who currently lives in Minnesota (with its high population of Ethiopians and Somalis) we can think of several people who really care how it turns out.

So whether you prefer rising powers, underdogs, high-stakes contests, or serious rivals there's something for you tomorrow. And if you prefer being gainfully employed and just looking up the scores during your coffee/tea can do that too.

Enjoy the games!