Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Trails #119-92

Editors Note, rather than go back and fix ALL the numbers of ALL the Happy Trails posts, please note that while I started counting down from #207, I neglected to include two numbers who should be much higher--South Sudan (who is a FIFA Member but didn't exist when qualifying spots were drawn) and Mauritania who just slipped my mind. So we'll pick up our countdown of eliminated nations at 119.

The summer would be the ideal time to have a bunch of World Cup Qualifiers, and indeed, the last three weeks have seen action across the planet from Sydney, Australia to Sandy, Utah. But with all that exciting, amazing action, there's also a lot of disappointing, soul-crushing defeat.

So let's say farewell to those teams who saw their dreams die. And, in an effort to lessen the number of teams I have to write about when qualifying concludes in November, I'll include teams eliminated in regions that still have matches left. As part of my on going war against European-entitlement, I'll include UEFA teams first (since they've played the fewest rounds) and teams in their second or fourth rounds later on.

File:Stadio Olimpico Serravalle (settembre 2011).jpg
#119--Ciao, San Marino
Why They Lost: You mean besides the fact that they have a smaller population than Butte? Probably the fact that they have 1 win in 118 national team matches.
What We'll Miss: Europe's WIBD contender doesn't have a whole lot to hang their hat on...but they do have an Olympic Stadium!'s just a high school stadium

#118--Farvel, Faroe Islands
Why They Lost: Largely because they are stuck playing Kazakhstan (2-0-0 all time against them) at the end of qualification, thereby denying them any chance to build momentum.
What We'll Miss: The opportunity to learn exactly how to type all the different accented o's in Fróði Benjaminsen or Hans Jørgensen

#117-- Tioraidh, Scotland
Why They Lost: To put it simply: Scottish football has fallen on hard times. Maybe I'm not cheering hard enough. Maybe there's too much upheaval and inconsistency in the management. Maybe the Tartan Army's gone too soft. Maybe none of the best athletes are going to football,  maybe they need a better training program, a better league. Or maybe we just all need to drink some more...yeah, that'll make it better.
What We'll Miss: Way back in the day, Scotland wore what they called "the Rosebury colors". Last worn 60 years ago, it's high time for a revival, don't you think?

#116 Fo Tuma Du, The Gambia
Why They Lost: Back to back three-nil defeats at the hands of Ivory Coast crushed their spirits and their goal differential. 
What We'll Miss: 
Brazil nuts are one of their major exports! Think of the tariff wars had they made the tournament and brought their Brazil nuts to Brazil...home of the nut itself!! (Still you can see three national team players: Sanna Nyassi, Abdoulie Mansally, and Mamdou Dansou ply their trade in the MLS)

#115 Lesali Sesihamba, Zimbabwe
The chicken would be a better Preisdent
than Robert Mugabe.
Why They Lost: It might be the chronically under experienced side (18 Caps is the most for anyone on the current national team roster). Or it might be because Egypt and Guinea are too strong a set of opponents. But I'm going to say it's because Robert Mugabe's a total knob who has driven his country into the depths of hyper-inflation, human rights abuses and despotic tyranny, lining his own pockets while citizens (including footballers) suffer. Yup. I blame Robert Mugabe. Why? (Because he's a tool and I have the freedom to say so...don't like it Bobby? Come and get me...psst, Morgan Transveri...then you can take power and hold free elections! It's fool proof!)
What We'll Miss: More Mugabe-bashing, plus the chance to analyze if Defender Felix Chindungwe's form will translate to his home team: Chicken Inn FC!

#114 Tsamayng Hantle Lesotho
Why They Lost: As we said in our profile of Lesotho there's not a whole lot of veteran presence to guide and support the young talents like Litsepe Marabe....also ceding 7 goals to Ghana really didn't help.
What We'll Miss: 
The "Well-I'll-Be-Darned" Minnow to watch for this round, the Crocodiles of Lesotho are yet another cinderella story gone awry. Then again...if a bunch of singing dancing mice helped Lesotho make the world cup, FIFA would probably investigate.

#113 M'asselema, Sudan
Saif Eldin Ali Maswai
Cocking an eyebrow at FIFA
rules like a boss
Why They Lost: In their second match, Sudan fielded Saif Eldin Ali Maswai and beat Zambia 2-0...however Mr. Ali-Maswai was ineligible to play (no idea why) so the result was reversed, Sudan sank to the bottom of the standings and hasn't risen again (equally intriguing, Zambia has a one point edge over Ghana--my adopted African home--and may eliminate the 2010 Quarterfinalists based on Sudan's misstake)
What We'll Miss: It would have been nice for the war-torn region of Africa to have a little joy on the pitch...but it would have made President/Chronic-Human-Rights-Abuser Omar Al-Bashir happy can deal with the disappointment

#112 Adeus, Mozambique
Why They Lost: Os Mambas don't have quite as much of an international presence as their fellow fellow former colonies (Brazil and Angola), maybe midfielder Telhino can rouse his fellow U-25s into a stronger cohort
What We'll Miss:
Crazy big scrabble points when using "Mozambique" (two 10 point letters and long enough to hit at least one double word score? SWEET)

#111 Murabeho, Rwanda
Why They Lost: Rwanda is split between two generations the old, experienced hands who've been localized players for the past decade or so, and the young up-and-comers who led the Wasps to the U-17 World Cup two years ago, and have been snatched up by clubs in Turkey, Belgium, France and England. This cup was likely preparation to pass off the torch to what may be a coming golden generation in Rwanda.
What We'll Miss: Seriously, one of the greatest most inspiring football stories in Africa in the last decade. Children of militia members and children of refugees playing alongside each other for their country. That's cool.

#110 Sai Watarana, Niger
Amadou Moutari
Why They Lost: The Menas were rather ineffective, scoring one goal in five matches. Their point totals are artificially inflated by an awarded victory over Gabon (3-0), take that away and they're -9.
What We'll Miss:
A recent run of success in Nations' Cups makes Niger look like a rising talent, particularly midfielder Amadou Moutari, who at 19 is already on board with Le Mans in the French Ligue 1.

#109 Gue Ngozi, Central African Republic
Why They Lost: The Wild Beasts started out strong with a two-nil win over Botswana and then collapsed, dropping four straight matches to Ethiopia, South Africa and Botswana again.
What We'll Miss:
Speaking of Le Mans and talented African athletes, the squad that nurtured Didier Drogba has two CAR players on their main squad: Hilaire Momi and Fernander Kassai...if you want a glimpse of Africa's talent...maybe we should just all watch Le Mans

#108 Kwaherini, Kenya
Why They Lost: For the Harambee Stars it was famine or moderately portioned meal. Throughout qualification they would draw or lose but never got a shot to win. Only once did they have the lead in a match (against the Nigerian Super Eagles), but taking the lead and keeping it were two different things. 
What We'll Miss:
The Harambee spirit of Kenya is pretty much the soul of fair play and decency. Of course I don't think Spain's going to change their motto to "everyone for themselves" we'll just cheer fair play abstractly rather than specifically.

#107 Later, Liberia
Why They Lost: George Weah continues to stubbornly refuse attempts at a comeback. Come on, Georgie boy! You're just 46!

What We'll Miss: Awkward conversations between a triumphantly returning George Weah and political rival/Nobel prize winning president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

#106 A bientot, Togo
Why They Lost: Emmanuel Adebayor is not George Weah. 
What We'll Miss:
Imagining a band called Adebayor and the Pips.

Eat Your Heart out Expos

#105 Bo yi bo wa, Benin
Why They Lost: It's a good idea to stay loose and fresh between national team matches (hence Spain's dominance), but Benin only gets together when they have a qualifier to play. A 9 month lay-off between a draw with Rwanda and two tilts with Algeria might not have been the best idea.
What We'll Miss: The classy old school 70's federation logo that combines letters and ball into one cohesive whole: like the old Montreal Expos, only still in existence

I should be a coach...
#104 Enda Nawa, Angola
Why They Lost: Like the aforementioned Harambee Stars, the Sable Antelopes could not find the finishing stroke to triumph in matches, only to earn draws in them...maybe more time playing Mortal Kombat would help...
What We'll Miss: The end of Angola's golden generation that took them to the World Cup in Germany. 8 years on, most of the young guns are nearing retirement, and four years from now they DEFINITELY will be close to done.

#103 Nangalapo Nawa, Namibia
Why They Lost: The Namibians squandered their chance to play spoiler in group F. With big matches against Malawi and Nigeria these past two weeks they could only muster a pair of draws. Quite a shame
What We'll Miss:
The surprisingly minimalist Namibian style.  The modest logo (a sun with a soccerball), the simple/honest slogan (Bringing People's Game to People), the nickname (Brave Warriors). Kind of a change of pace from all the other stuff out there.

Teodoro Obiang imprisons
dissidents...and his smile
#102 Magha, Equatorial Guinea
Why They Lost: Group B was a case of Tunisia and everybody else. The Nzalang Nacional couldn't put together much of anything away from the friendly confines Nueva Estadio de Malabo, and even there it was just one goal wins. 
What We'll Miss:
Adding Teodoro Obiang to our list of dictators we like to make fun of....even though he's apparently an ally.

#101 Nain Dat, Sierra Leone
Why They Lost: The little known Kanye West Jinx, wherein any nation called out in a Kanye West song is doomed to 20 years of failure...
What We'll Miss:
Hearing national team players swap stories of their club teams (the squad is flung from Kansas City to Tajikistand and from Sweden to Cyprus and Ghana to China).

#100 Tutaonana, Tanzania
Why They Lost: Not being able to play every match at home put a definite crimp in the Taifa Stars game plan (they won two matches at home and dropped every thing on the road)
What We'll Miss:
Forward Mrishio Ngassa is easily the lion of the Tanzanian side. At just 24 he has 21 goals in 74 caps. Fingers crossed for his continued success.

#99 Tikala Milamu, Congo DR
Why They Lost: A three match goalless drought in this years qualifying matches has been a little disappointing for the Leopards whose three points helped but didn't give them a real shot at progression.
What We'll Miss:
The chance to use world cup qualifiers as a means to effect a cease fire in a perpetually war torn area....oh and to bring up Mobutu Sese Seko...the most amusingly named dictator of all time.

#98 Khanbiafo, Mali
Why They Lost: Inability to defend home turf. Despite two big wins on the road in Rwanda and at home against Algeria, they could only eke out draws against bottom feeders Benin and Rwanda at home.
What We'll Miss:
Arguably the best mix of experienced talent and young up-and-comers in this batch of eliminated teams. The recent national team debuts of four U-25 talents based in England, France and Italy bodes well (as does the nurturing forces of 30 year old talents in the same leagues)

Great outfit for Morocco's heat

#97 Lla yhennik, Morocco
Why They Lost: Remember when Morocco made 3 out of four world cups from '86 to '98...yeah, they do too...but to paraphrase Rick Pitino: "Mustapha Hadji isn't walking out here folks, Nourradine Naybet's not gonna walk through that door..."
What We'll Miss:
Dropping the team nickname that seems at once epic and Ayn Randian "The Lions of Atlas"

#96 Ungesege, Guinea
Why They Lost: The National Elephants were head and shoulders above two other teams in their group. Controlling pretty much everything against Zimbabwe and managing points in both matches against Mozambique. But...well...Egypt dominated everyone, winning every one of their games. 
What We'll Miss:
After 4 attempted/completed coups since 2008 it seemed like there might be some good news for Guinea this year...fingers cross we can talk about more positive results in future

#95 'Illa-liqaa, Lebanon
Ramez Dayoub...we were happy too
(Yahoo images)
Why They Lost: Terminally under-ranked, the mighty cedars of Lebanon soldiered their way through qualifying across Asia, from Bangladesh through Kuwait and UAE and into the last stage of qualifying. And while a 3-0 blemish against South Korea marred an otherwise strong first half of the campaign (that took them primarily on the road) losing to Qatar, Uzbekistan and finally plummeting to a 4-0 to an Iranian team they had beaten 9 months before.
What We'll Miss:
A truly great story that was our first Minnow-to-Watch to keep us watching.

#94 Fiiman Illaah, Iraq
Why They Lost: It was likely a little much to ask the Lions of Mesopotamia to beat Japan and Australia, but initial draws with Jordan and Oman held a promising possibility, just beat them in your second legs and you would have the third spot sewn up. It worked against Jordan...not so much against Oman.
What We'll Miss:
It might be nice to hear "O Victorious Baghdad" again...a nice tune you can dance to!

Always remains High, O Victorious Baghdad, (تضلي دايما فوق، منصورة يا بغداد)
And to see your eternal Glory, O Victorious Baghdad. (ونشوف عزج دوم، منصورة يا بغداد)

O Victorious Baghdad, O Victorious Baghdad, (منصورة يا بغداد، منصورة يا بغداد)

#93 Salaam, Qatar

Why They Lost: The Maroon were perpetually forced to play teams that were not Lebanon. If they could just keep playing the Cedars they would still be undefeated...ah well.
What We'll Miss:
Not much, with Qatar due to host the World Cup in 9 years, we're well assured of many, many, MANY more jokes at their expense in the decade to come.

#92 Allah yisallimak, Oman
Why They Lost: The Red Warriors were in prime position, needing a draw, just a draw, in Jordan and they would have third place all to themselves. The first half fit the bill, until Ahmed Hayel Ibrahim spoiled the party in the 57th minute to give Jordan the win and end Oman's dream. 

What We'll Miss: Mocking international ruiner of a manager: Paul Le Guen...who will be the lucky team foiled by him next? Honduras? Austria? We're dying to know!

With that it's Happy Trails to all, with hopefully a few more posts between now and the next round of eliminated sucka-dogs in September.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

In it...but win it? #2 Australia, South Korea, Iran

We're ready to continue our look at teams that have qualified for the 2014 World Cup, by analyzing their chances as quickly as possible, thereby removing all responsibility for doing things well.

File:Football Federation Australia logo.svgQualifier #3 Australia
Contender Credentials: The Socceroos have quietly become one of the most consistent teams in the Asian Football Confederation. Building off a trip to Germany in 2006 (their last year in the Oceania Confederation), they have now made three-straight World Cups. Furthermore, the power of local players has become increasingly apparent as long serving national team members continue plying their trade in the top divisions of Europe, and increasingly do so along side well regarded younger players (24 year olds [GK] Mitchell Langerak, [F] Robbie Kruse and [MF] Tom Rogic).

Pretender Problems: Though heavily favored to qualify, Australia was totally lack luster in the first several rounds of qualifying matches, mustering just 1 in in 6 tries (though they did earn points in all their others). It's hard to imagine a team threatening the best in the world when they struggle with Oman as much as the Aussies did. Add in that favored veterans like goalie Mark Schwarzer are nearing 40 and the power house looks more like the old age home.

Pie-in-the-Sky Scenario: The Aussies were playing it cool in the early go, but now are a force to be reckoned with, and with familiar hands helping the newbies they shock the world en route to the semis, while the lousy Kiwis stay home.
Pits-of-Despair Scenario: Worse than their qualifying campaign, one rank outsider beats them like an old didjeridoo while New Zealand shockingly makes the knockout stages.
Prediction: A few stellar showings marred by inability to finish the job leaves them just outside of the knockout stage--3rd in their group.

File:Football Federation Of Islamic Republic of Iran logo.pngQualifier #4 Iran
Contender Credentials: Over the last two decades Iran has had a familiar pattern--qualify, fail to qualify, qualify, fail to qualify. Though even in their failures they often come heartbreakingly close. They head to the tournament next year with coaching golden(ish) boy Carlos Quieroz at the helm, a man who led South Africa and Portugal to the Mondiale before doing the same for Team Melli and is as doggedly loyal and supportive of Iran in general as your friendly neighborhood Imam. Under Quieroz they have perhaps the most fearsome defense in Asia, ceding just two goals in the last round of qualification.

Pretender Problems: Ceding two goals was nearly two goals too many as Iran was tied with Qatar for third place coming into the month, only a startling offensive outburst from Standard Leige's Reza Ghoochannejhad boosted them in (largely on the back of a 4-0 romp over Lebanon). Iran also has a habit of promoting players attuned to the local political philosophy rather than those who are really really good (hence Ali Daei's 100+ caps...though his 100+ goals also have something to do with that).

Pie-in-the-Sky Scenario: Slotted in a group with decadent westerners (and Israel) Iran crushes them all; then they do the same through the knock out stages until decimating the U.S. 10-0 in the final [this fantasy brought to you directly from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's brain]
Pits-of-Despair Scenario: Quieroz implodes (as he is want to do) the goals dry up and all the players start drinking, swearing and saying provocative things like: "hey, whatever people want to do is cool with me, live and let live I always say" [this nightmare brought to you directly from Ayatollah Khameni's brain]
Prediction: The defense is not as effective on the world stage as it is in Asia and a dearth of goals (another Quieroz trademark), Iran finishes bottom of their group. But the players remain good muslims, inshallah [this dose of reality brought to you by everyone not named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad/Ayatollah Khameni]

File:Emblem of Korea Football Association.svgQualifier #5 South Korea
Contender Credentials: The fourth and final member of Asia's elite four teams: South Korea may have been playing the game the longest (assuming you count chuk-guk, which you should...if only for the name). They have a World Cup streak that might just shame the rest of the continent, having been to every Mondiale since 1986 (That's 8 straight to 3 for Australia and 5 for bitter rivals: Japan). Finally they offer perhaps the best developed and organized talent nurturing program on the continent, with national team fixtures (like Park-ji Sung) gladly making way for younger talents (like Son Heung-Min) that all routinely play in the top flight of international competition.

Pretender Problems: Chuk-guk is not futbol, and players who qualified in 1986 will not be taking the field in Brazil next summer. And for a talented team, the Taeguk Warriors sure didn't look like one in their final matches, as (on their home soil mind you) they needed an own goal to get past Uzbekistan and lost 1-0 to Iran. An onslaught of goals in Takshent nearly put the Uzbeks through and sent South Korea to the dread play-in...a pretty mighty fall from grace for a team that was on top of the group heading into last week.

Pie-in-the-Sky Scenario: Fueled by dynamic young talent, South Korea plays their most fluid style of futbol reminding everyone why they are the top talent in Asia and top their fourth place finish in 2002 by a solid three spots.
Pits-of-Despair Scenario: The far flung players in Europe are worn out when they have to trudge to Asia for training and thence to South America for competition, finishing with three losses...meanwhile Japan wins the tournament and taunts Korea with it across sea, while North Korea takes their failure as a sign of weakness and attacks.
Prediction: Some underperforming European side [*cou{HOLLAND}gh!*] comes apart in their group and the Warriors capitalize to make their second straight appearance in the round of 16.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Waning Seconds: ASIA UPDATE!

A few weeks ago we ran down how every Asian team still had a chance to qualify for the world cup.

Yeah...that's not so much the case any more.

So here now is a run down on how it can play out tomorrow as three more tickets are punched for Brazil and one serious squabble is set for September.

First Match's adorable
Australia plays Iraq in Sydney in the first game of the day. The Iraqis must be disappointed not to parlay recent AFC success into a World Cup bid, but they could always settle for ruining the Socceroos day.

A win for Australia sees them straight to Brazil, anything less and they have to stay up late to see what happens between Oman and Jordan

Group A Simulcast
The most thrilling part of qualification is playing right in the midst of another match that could just as easily determine your destiny. That's the situation for South Korea, Iran and Uzebekistan (Qatar too...but they were left in the dust on the last match day so a four way battle is out of the question).

South Korea's goal is simplest. Get a point at home against Iran and you're going down South America way. Having won all their home tilts so far this campaign it seems likely.

Jon Snow is rooting for Uzbekistan
If South Korea does win, Uzbekistan can make history by winning their own match and vaulting the White Wolves into their first ever World Cup. But if they draw or lose, they'll have to face the third place finisher in Group B for the chance to face the fifth place team in South America for a spot in Brazil.

And, then again, Iran can screw everything up (after all, it is Iran). A win and they're in. A Uzbekistan draw or loss, and they're in. But if Iran wins mightily (like they did against Lebanon) and Uzbekistan wins mightily, then South Korea crashes down to third place. OR, if Iran draws and Uzbekistan wins mightily, then they Ayatollah's favored 11 have to do the 5th-place-playoff.

And just in case entry to the most prestigious tournament on the planet isn't enough drama for you, now the Koreans and Iranians are jawing at each other about "poor treatment" "humiliation" and subtle hints at match fixing...I'm guessing that match will have a little extra juice to it.

Final Match
The real thrill of the day comes at the end of the day in Amman, Jordan, but it depends largely on what happens in Australia six-and-a-half hours earlier.

When even a little soccer blog
takes potshots at should
be sad
The visiting Red Warriors of Oman could easily settle for a draw to solidify their spot in third place/the fifth place playoff (a new record for their nation), especially if Australia wins in which case they couldn't do better than third anyway. But if the Socceroos fall, the door opens for Oman and a victory would set an even better new record: World Cup qualification. (An Australia draw plus a seven goal victory of Jordan would also see them through...but come on, there's a better chance of Keanu Reeves winning a Tony award than there is of that happening.)

The home team will be desperate for a win, as they need all three points just to move in to third (an Australia loss plus a highly unlikely 8 goal swing in goal differential is the only way they've got to get in directly).

So there it is, six teams are set to battle for three sure thing spots and two awkward third-place will-they-or-won't-they playoffs.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In It...but Win It? #1 Brazil & Japan

It's time to a for a new feature here on the Montana Hooligans! We've spent much of the last two years chronicling the ups and downs of the qualifying process of all those teams major news outlets rarely talk about. Does ESPN care if Lebanon topped Pakistan? Does Rupert Murdoch's sport empire bother to tell you what Guyana's chances are? NOPE! But we do because...well...because we're nerds.

We'll fit in GREAT!!

Yet, in just about one year we'll be down to just 32 teams in Brazil, so perhaps we ought to take a little time to look at serious contenders as well. So when teams punch their tickets to the final round of competition, we'll celebrate their accomplishment and then give you rapid analysis of their chances to win the cup--long before we know who they'll actually face and who will actually be on their team.

You might be asking, why should you do that? Well, we offer this analysis, not because it will be accurate or even useful, but because it will be funny and fast. After all, any one can give you accurate analysis in a few months, but we're happy to give you inaccurate analysis as soon as we can. (And if that's not a pitch to add us to CNN's broadcast team, I don't know what is)

File:CBF logo.svgQualifier #1: Brazil

Contender Credentials: Start with the one of their many nicknames: Pentacampeão or "Five Time Champions". Brazil churns out championship calibre squads and players like the Disney Channel churns out future child-star rehabbers. Their joga bonito style of play is often imitated but never duplicated giving rise to the popular Brazilian saying: "futbol was invented in England and perfected by Brazil". And as host nation they get the regular home-field advantage that comes each World Cup, as teams out perform their expectations.

Pretender Problems: Between former coach Mano Menezes fielding young, untested squads that struggled at times, and recent rehire Luiz Filipe Scolari struggling even more in the run-up to the Confederations Cup, this is not your pappy's Seleção. They've fallen to 22nd in the FIFA world rankings, their lowest ranking...ever. They have now slipped behind Ecuador, Switzerland and Bosnia/Herzegovina, leaving them just one step ahead of Mali. How a team like that wins the World Cup? I do not know

Pie-In-The-Sky Scenario: The salubrious effects of playing at home rejuvenate Brazil and they steamroll every opponent enroute to their sixth championship
Pits-of-Despair Scenario: Without clear focus in the attack, and with the pressure of their home fans around them at every turn, they crumble in a Round-of-Sixteen game for their worst performance in 24 years.
Our Ridiculously Early Prediction: A little home-cooking helps, but can't overcome natural deficits Semi-Finalists

Qualifier #2: Japan

Contender Credentials: Japanese football is clearly on the rise. Its best domestic players are battled over with the same passion you hear about around elite African or Latin American prospects (Shinji Kagawa of Man United to name but one). Manager Alberto Zaccheroni has crafted the best winning percentage of any Japanese manager since Hans Ooft nearly twenty years ago. Add to that a fourth place finish at last year's Olympics, a spot at the Confederation's Cup this month and an impressive march to qualification and you've got a hot squad.

Pretender Problems: Though they've had some success in recent cups, Zac Japan (so called in honor of its manager) has not yet won a game in the knock-out stages. And as well as they've played in qualifying, the best teams in recent years have played together or against each other far more than they play apart. The youngest players on the national team play in Japan, the more experienced players are scattered from England and Germany, to Russia, Belgium and Italy, making it more difficult to prepare as one cohesive unit.

Pie-In-The-Sky Scenario: Building off recent successes and spurred on by the largest Japanese population outside of Japan (1.8 million), the Blue Samurai make a shocking run to the finals!
Pits-of-Despair Scenario: Worn out by disparate club schedules and stuck in a difficult group, they continue their alternating pattern of stink-knockouts-stink-knockouts...with a decidedly stinky performance.
Our Ridiculously Early Prediction: There's too much talent to be ignored, but not enough to shock the world: Quarterfinalists