Tag Archives: World Cup

The History of Football In Malaysia

While the tragedy of disappearing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has dominated the world’s headlines over the past few weeks, the current state of football in the country also remains a mystery. Barring a period of exciting football in the 1970s with an abundance of striking talent, the national team has faded quickly and recent and consistent revelations of corruption across the domestic competition do little to inspire confidence for the future.

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The Unpredictable History of Romanian Football

As some of their Balkan cousins are packing their beachwear for Brazil in under 100 days, Romania remains firmly out in the cold. Despite finishing second in their group and missing out in a playoff against Greece, they finished nine points behind group leaders the Netherlands.

Not that expectation was high; with the country not playing in a major finals tournament since 1998 the national game has fallen down the list of priorities as the domestic game and authorities are found to be among the most corrupt in the world. The promising early rise of football, a huge period of wilderness where potential superstars were kept under wraps and a national golden era post-Communism make up the rich and fading memories of Romanian football.

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A History of Australians In English Football

Last week Lucas Neill, the former Blackburn, West Ham and Everton defender secured a move to English Championship team, and my home town, Watford. With the World Cup on the horizon Neill is desperate to secure regular football to gain a spot on the flight to Brazil. His career has taken him to England, across Europe, back to Australia, Asia and now back to England. It prompted me to think about the history of Australians in the English game and celebrate those that made an impact in the motherland and some that went Walkabout.

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Ecuador: Riding High on The Wings of Altitude

Ecuador. Not just famous for the 1997 dance tune by Sash of the same name; now their national football team is making waves. Traditionally one of South America’s less prominent nations, as its economy has thrived, so has its football, keeping up with the likes of the emerging Colombia and Chile. Having reached the Brazil 2014 World Cup finals they are shortly due to play warm-up games against Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and England before things get serious against Switzerland, Honduras and France.

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Russian Football: Past, Present and Future

The modern day image of Russian football has come a long way since the days of Soviet rule, communist direction and mass unrest across the country. With the birth of a new nation over two decades ago came an influx of obscene amounts of wealth to the domestic league. The floodgates are well and truly open and as Russia enters the World Cup in Brazil this year, expectation is high to see a return for the country’s investment.

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Bosnia-Herzegovina: Brazil 2014’s Favourite Underdog?

In 1992 the Yugoslav team was on the brink of greatness, a feat that was matched across many sports including the world game. The subsequent war resulted in a tragedy that ripped apart the nation and spawned six separate republics: Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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The Magical Ticos: A Profile of Costa Rican Football

As the teams were drawn for Group D of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil last month one team would have been looking at their opposition in awe. Costa Rica, the plucky Central American nation, will need to conjure up some giant-killing to creep into the Second Round, but if history is anything to go by it will be a goal they relish. The nation’s production of some outstanding talent recently is not by accident; despite periods of years in the wilderness there have been historical patches of brilliance with sustainability their biggest foe.

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Filipino Football

The Philippines was thrown into the world’s spotlight in dramatic fashion on the 8 November this month. Typhoon Haiyan has took its toll with the current death toll at over 5,000 people with thousands more missing. The sporting world saw first-hand the consequences as recent Golf World Cup Champion and Australian-born Jason Day revealed he lost eight members of his family.  Also UEFA quickly prompted a sign of support with banners unveiled at every Champions League football game this week reading, “You are not alone, Philippines.” Generally football in the country has battled against the most popular sport, basketball, and struggles to gain enough popularity to grow organically. The national team continues to be one of the weaker across the globe and the domestic league remains effectively semi-professional with future plans to change that. However look beneath the surface and you will see a game that has been heavily influenced originally by Britain, Spain and more recently the rest of Europe. Remarkably when football was at the height of popularity the country even produced a Spanish football legend.

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The Nostalgia of Hungarian Football

For the modern day football fan unless you are well versed in the game’s history the mention of Hungary and ‘The Magnificent Magyars’ would not even create a stir. For those entering their retirement years and beyond the reaction would be a raise of the eyebrows and a nod of the head to a national team that were once considered the greatest team on earth and arguably a rival to the Brazil teams of 1970 and even the modern day Spanish world beaters. From a promising early history to the peak of their powers in the 1950s, ironically post revolution followed an ever so gradual decline to mediocrity and an extended absence from the elite of world football. The domestic competition excelled on a similar timeline and pathway but with the fall of Communism in the 1990s came uncertainty and instability that has affected the national game but also seen largely continued dominance of a handful of clubs. Welcome to Hungarian football, where Ferenc Puskás may be the most popular figure but where many more legends were born.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.fifa.com – ‘The Magnificent Magyars’

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Luxembourg Football: Emerging From its Neighbours’ Shadows

Until last week Luxembourg was more famous for being a tax haven for the world’s wealthy and has been treated with suspicion since the Global Financial Crisis. With a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that is ranked number one in the world, the nation would for once have its five minutes of fame in the sporting arena last Tuesday evening. A historic 3-2 victory at home against Northern Ireland gave the country its first World Cup qualifying win since 1972 and only its fourth ever. With just over half a million residents the country is bordered by France, Belgium and Germany and its football culture has been influenced by all three nations. It’s performance and status on the world football stage has however not mirrored its neighbours’ traditionally strong record.

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Image courtesy of The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com

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The Docceroos

Socceroos, Olyroos, Kangaroos and the lesser-known Futsalroos. The quirky nicknaming of Australian national sports teams is unashamedly endearing and clearly if you add ‘roos’ on the end of any name you just cannot go wrong.

In my day job in recruiting Doctors across Australia and beyond I encounter some interesting practitioners. A couple of years ago I produced an article about Sports Medicine with a Doctor I work with; he revealed he was also a Doctor for the Socceroos (Australian National Soccer Team), and with my love of football this was pure gold.

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On the brink of Brazil: A Profile of Ukrainian Football

As I write England are just hours away from their most important game of football in recent years. If they win they take a huge stride towards automatic World Cup qualification at the expense of their opposition, Ukraine. As a substantial part of the former Soviet Union, the young nation has shown a gradual and impressive improvement in ability in just two decades to be on the verge of securing a place in Brazil next year.

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The Forgotten Ireland: A Profile of Northern Irish Football

Northern Ireland has long been viewed as the less fashionable of the Irish nations, and when it comes to football the external view is no different. From their origins as a united Ireland team to two very separate football entities, politics and unrest have littered their history and inevitably their football.

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Zimbabwean Football: Clinging to Mugabe’s hollow promises

Last week the infamous Robert Mugabe claimed a landslide ‘victory’ in the Zimbabwe presidential elections to tighten his leadership grip. Since 1980 he has reigned as the Prime Minister then President over a regime of alleged corruption and violence. The economic situation has deteriated in tandem with his land-grab policy over the last decade and there have been almost non-existent funds for sport; along with education and culture, sport formed one government ministry. In March this year Mugabe handed out the domestic league’s trophy and took a very sudden and suspicious interest in football promising when he won the election money would be made available.

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Afghan Football: From Kabul to the X-Factor

Just the mention of Afghanistan immediately evokes images of war, conflict, Osama Bin Laden and instability. The US led “War on Terror” that began in 2001 appears to have an end in sight. As more allied troops withdraw they are left with the moral responsibility, wanted or not, to leave infrastructure, both economic and social.

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