Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WMQ 2013--Das Fröhliche Syndikat

WMQ 2013 (1)

The Countdown begins Syndicate Members,

Daniel Franklin, a most esteemed editor at “The Economist”, regularly referred to the month of August as “The Silly Season”. With most of the civilized world on vacation, it was common practice for journalistic and scholarly publications to resort to “fluff and guff” in deference to the public’s desire for light and gently self-reinforcing information.

A brave new world indeed. In today’s streaming “information overload” culture, the “Silly Season” goes on all year. Anyone with a thirst for trifling news can access it instantaneously. Twenty years ago they at least had to go to the supermarket tabloid aisle. Today’s world affords us constant opportunity to ruminate on what a bunch of fuck-ups everyone else is. Want to feel better about yourself? Surely someone is embroiled in a sex scandal.

By contrast, most ‘hard-news fiends’ (a.k.a. treasured Syndicate Members) will have undoubtedly found this August’s offerings to be the most depressing ever. ; ( ; ( ; ( 100,000 dead in Syria and even then only response we can manage is likely to make matters even worse. Over 3,000 dead in Iraq in the bloodiest sectarian summer since before the surge. A failed coordinated assault against M-23 in Congo. Renewed bloodshed in Somalia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Sudan.

Egypt deserves it’s own paragraph. A revolution so insane wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the information age. Of course history is full of short-lived transitions of power, but now we’re getting to the point where NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY SOUL can hope to back a side.

The insipidly brainless French nobleman known as Nostradamus once predicted World Peace over a span of 10,000 years. Dumbass piece-of-shit Frog. How about ONE DAY, Frenchie?

And that’s our introduction. As sad as the World may be, as much as commenting on the despondency makes one feel like Jesse Fredrick attempting to write the theme song to “Family Matters”, succor only resides in one incontrovertible fact:

280 Days Remaining……

We’ll dispense with the formalities, if only because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover (uh…literally the entire planet.) Let’s get going…

Five countries have officially qualified.  

Already qualified


A hearty Sura-del Bunda welcome to the Samba Kings, henceforth to be referred to as “the hosts with the mosts”. Even though quarterly GDP Growth has predictably slowed to fewer than 5 percent, this bookie still avers that the Brazilians have much to be grateful for.
The Brazilians put the ‘B’ in “BRIC”, but insofar as I’m concerned B stands for “Behavior”. Call attention to your grievances peacefully, quietly, and in a civilized manner. The sheer amount of genuine misery in the world necessitates that you do not spoil the fun for all those seeking a pleasant distraction.

Think me too harsh? I honestly don’t give a shit. I’m tired of absorbing fatality statistics over my morning coffee. Some people purport to eventually become desensitized to such statistics. I don’t trust those people. Every last flame of life extinguished eliminates exponential potential from this world. Protest peacefully period. I stand by what was written a few short months ago.

From CC 2013: Semifinals

E-mail Riff of the Day

(Female) Reader: Instead of counting “Hot Girls”, why don’t you address the Brazilian Protests?

Vicey: It would be my great pleasure ; ). Don’t let my love of the puerile fool you. I’m actually an entirely too well read individual who wastes an inordinate amount of time reading newspapers. I keep myself über-informed, much to the detriment of anything resembling a social life. Not only am I aware of Latin American Political Activists, I make it my business to write about them:

From “WBC 2013: Round Four”:

--One piece of writing I can link to is the fascinating vlog of Chilean activist Camila Vallejo. Here’s a Guardian article that will take you all the way to the Promised Land:

Yes, I’m attracted to her. That doesn’t mean she’s not a genius!

Your friendly bookie obstinately refuses to be a shallow individual, no matter the costs may be ; ) While we’re all engaged in the frivolous exercise of watching football, everyone should pay heed to the legitimate grievances of those in lands that lack social justice. You may point out that the U.S. also lags behind when it comes to “Social Justice”, but that’s nothing more than a moot point. Whatever tribulations you face, it doesn’t compare to the challenges a full third of the world must deal with. Poverty sucks. I can attest to that. Nevertheless, “abject poverty” sucks even more. Imagine not knowing when your next meal will come.

The people of Brazil rise up in reasonable and rational opposition to policies that affect their daily lives. The movement began as a simple gathering of voices opposed to an increase in transit fees. Confronted with the opulence of the Confederations Cup, ordinary citizens understandably wondered why all of these ornate new stadiums were being erected directly in their faces. The World Cup may bring a hoard of tourism dollars, but will the money be adequately re-distributed?

Brazilians have had to put up with far too much wasteful nonsense. After Lula’s departure, the Rousseff administration has been plagued by one scandal after another. The manner in which corrupt government officials aggrandize and enrich themselves constitutes a personal affront to all those who seeking to make a living in an unfair society. Rousseff herself is a former Guerilla Commander who spent years in prison fighting for the same rights that the protesters currently reach for.

The moral of the whole sordid tale is as follows: Life remains unfair. My Syndicate Members know this. The key is to remain humble, even in the face of improbable success When Rouseff addressed the nation; she reminded everyone that peaceful protests were completely acceptable. She also promised to invest all of the World Cup income in the “Bolsa Familia Program”. Time will tell if that promise will be fulfilled, but the words sounded sincere in any case. Brasilia my full permission (as if that means anything) to rise up in protest just as the South Africans did in 2010 and 2013. It’s not cool to have people celebrate a manufactured carnival on your doorstep ;)

Sorry to be the arrogant Westerner seeking escape from his First World Problems. I just love football. Love your movement too….

How about celebrating your team? Scolari has brought back the magic. What little evidence gleaned from Neymar’s nascent Barça season leads most of us football enthusiasts to believe that he will surpass Messi within a matter of months. Just rejoice. There’s a time and place for everything. That’s why we have elections….in theory anyway.


The new Wop manager has proven a real shot in the arm to our beloved Blue Samurai. The tournament won’t be the same without them. I maintain as much enthusiasm as I did four years ago.

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengeance”


Too bad they’re not hosting this year. Hatoyama, Ozawa, and all the poorly connected DPJ newbies could stand to benefit from a “Merkel Moment”. An affectionate welcome back for the beloved “Blue Samurai” (THAT is a nickname) and an admiring salute to the indisputably goofiest people on the planet! Seriously, I do love these people. Here are
Three reasons to be categorically ecstatic that Japan is in the WM (and, NO, you perverted jackasses, none of them have with precocious schoolgirls, WOWOW-TV, or tentacles!)

1. Japanese announcers—If you thought the guys who wrote the programming code for “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” were doing their utmost to induce a seizure with the 5,637,662-hit combo, listen to these cats:

I wish, I wish….that I could have found some WM 2006 Japanese announcers! That Oliver Neuville goal against Poland was priceless. Why can I not receive the NHK feed on my basic cable package? WHY????

Hello hemorrhaging aneurisms for all!

2. Empress Michiko in the stands! Naturally, one may assume she’ll call in sick as usual. Nevertheless, the opportunity to witness the porcelain empress never fails to stir that deep anticipatory excitement! This may be the year I finally witness her shift her elbow, budge her arms shift or even blink! (I have a long running wager with a friend on whether or not she is, in fact, a robot.) I will recoup that $20!! This brings us to……..

3. ROBOTS!!!!!! Colbert fans unite; these automatons pose a serious threat to the beautiful game. As many of you are already aware, the RoboCup Community has tasked itself with the ambitious goal of pitting a humanoid robot team against the World Champions in 2050. Keep a lookout for some steely-eyed Toshiba Goons in the stands! Be vigilant for they must be stopped! If a technological feat such as this really is possible, let’s hope the 2050 Champs are the Italians.


I had high hopes that the Socceroos would ultimately falter after joining the AFC. Sadly, Timmy Cahill and the boys will be coming along. Nothing personal against Cahill, whom I still revere for his infamous “Kaiserslautern KO”. I remain remiss, however, when coming up with novel ways to describe this team. I remain equally remiss to write anything original about “comeback kid” Kevin Rudd. I’ve little choice but to re-post more “blasts from the past”.

From FWM 2011—Semifinals


What did I say about the Australian back line?? Elyse Perry is a pretty girl with a pretty goal to her credit, but she had a nightmare day at the back. Unzunlar upgraded her performance from “catastrophe” to “miserable” and Tameka Butt was subbed in far too late to make difference. (No, people. I refuse to make a joke about either Tameka “what..what” or Bayern keeper Hans Jorg “in the” Butt).

So the dream dies for our “lady-roos”, “waltzing Matildas”, “outback ovaries”, blah blah blah blah. Rest assured we’ll be back with this perennial oceanic qualifier next time around, talking about their fierce “Never say die” attitude, trying (and failing) to find something funny to say about the Prime Minister, and pretending as if Yahoo Serious is a legitimate pop culture reference. Yawn. Don’t you understand? They won’t go away! They’re always coming back! LEAVE ME ALONE!

South Korea
South Korea

One final re-post in the “qualified” section. I promise. This has to be emphasized. Everyone must understand the presence of the Koreans is so vitally important:

From WMQ 2009—Syndicate with Avengeance:

South Korea

Oh yes. Yes sir. Together with the Spaniards and the Japs, there will be no shortage of eye-candy in the stands for the male viewing contingent! The triumvirate of gorgeous hotties is already in! One might even call the Korean girls the Jefferson of the “Mount Rushmore of Babes. The Spaniards are my Roosevelts. I’m just not cool enough. Besides that, I can’t dance. The Japs are my Washington. They will dump you quicker than you can day ”Snow Falling on Peter”. Oh well. Other than reasons that make me appear to be a very “dirty old man”, here are four reasons, why I’m psyched about the Koreans:

1. The drum section of the “Tigers of Asia”. If you haven’t heard this fan club yet, you’re in for a treat!

2. In poor forlorn Kaiserslautern, you simply have to love a team with the nickname “Red Devils”….er with the possible exception of the loathed ManU

3. The Koreans got completely gypped by those microstate cheese yodelers known as the Swiss in the 2006 WM. They were polite to the Ref and everything!! Fucking useless Swiss.

4. ManU’s Ji-Sung Park ready to kick some ass while Park Chu Young is poised to tear up the scene (Chan-Ho Park is still bothered by a hamstring). Lee Chun-Yong of Bolton Wanders is an intriguing prospect while Lee Dong-Gook (tearin’ up the K league) and Lee Young Pyo are back for more! In addition, we’ve got Lee Keun Ho, Lee Chung-Yong, Lee Jung Soo, AND Lee Woon-Jae called up? How about that? Kim Young Kwang, Kim Dong-Jin, Kim Hyung-Il, and Kim Jung-Woo are ready to play!!
(Okay…love my Koreans. Still waiting to meet one that does not have Jong, Hong, Park, Kim, or Lee in their name. Also, is anyone NOT from Seoul? I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Go see Park Chan-wook’s latest epic “Thirst”. I mean, GO RIGHT NOW! If you loved “Oldboy”,  “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” and “I’m a Cyborg, but that’s Okay”, you’ve not a moment to lose! The Koreans are the ONLY ones left that can still do artful horror.


Rouhani or Rowhani? The precise spelling is immaterial. Our new clerical “Philosopher King” is neither a moderate nor a potential I.A.E.A. miracle worker. Iran will continue to enrich weapons-grade uranium. Crippling sanctions will continue to drive the Rial and—thus—the entire country’s currency into a despondent state of ruin.

That being said, it would be fantastic if everyone could suspend their more geopolitically inclined thoughts and welcome the Iranian Nationals to our tournament. The football team has absolutely nothing to do with our persistent snafu. Don’t forget, this is largely the same team that wore green ribbons during the qualifying stages four years ago. They fight hard for their people. Wish them well, even if they do bow in prayer after every goal. 


No choice but to get this monster out of the way first. I’ll literally be writing about it all day. Why, you ask? Let’s begin with my often re-posted intro from four years ago:

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengeance”

Bizarre Micro States galore! We’ve got ethic enclaves, medieval fiefdoms, breakaway republics, “kingdoms” that have been a part of the U.K. for 600 years, bitterly dived realms that can’t decide on a nationality, new countries that were formed yesterday at 3:34 a.m. when no one was paying attention, land’s whose teams have goats and sheep playing for them, States who have survived centuries of warfare by functioning merely as a picturesque tax shelter and a newly approved treaty that aims to make sense of the whole tangled mess! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the quirky inheritor of feudal Christendom… I give you a veritable patchwork quilt of technocrats squabbling over milk subsidies. I give you EUROPE! (Turks, Israelis, Russians, Kazaks, Azerbaijanis, and Nordic Colonial islands also welcome. Everyone join the party!)

FIFTY-THREE countries are currently competing in NINE (Yes, NINE) groups. That’s just how we roll. In only one other competition will one see a “Group I”. That’s right. We have a “GROUP I”!! To hell with that soft-spoken rat who mentored the Ninja Turtles. Europeans are the original “Master Splinter”.

With 13 Qualification spots at stake, the individual group winners will automatically qualify while the eight best group runners-up face off in a November Aggregate Playoff. Those are the matches you absolutely CANNOT afford to miss. For now we have two group stage rounds remaining. Most teams have a total of four matches left, though some only have three. Despite this only THREE teams (Scotland, San Marino, and the Faroe Islands) have been mathematically eliminated. Nine teams (Serbia, Wales, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, Moldova, and Belarus) cling to life by their fingernails and should, barring some miracle, be eliminated this weekend.

Capable of some quick arithmetic? A full FORTY-ONE teams remain in contention No country has officially qualified yet, though we can speculate that the Dutch and Krauts will carry their group. Apart from this pair, no country leads its group by more than the three points awarded for a victory.

That means…….Can you FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!? What a fantastic week of football intrigue lies before us! Nations on the hot seat include (big surprise) England, France, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland. It’s no exaggeration to say that all of those states’ hopes of qualifying are in serious jeopardy. In terms of points, Spain’s position remains somewhat precarious, but no one can seriously doubt La Roja’s ability to qualify.

Everyone strap in! All fifty-three countries have been playing qualifying matches since last autumn, three months after the conclusion of the European Championship. Only now does it get interesting…..


Kazakhstan vs. The Faroe Islands


Might as well start with a blockbuster. I know that all of you are eagerly anticipating the result of a match that pits a sparsely inhabited former SSR against a mini-archipelago that even the Scottish found too classless to conquer. Damn straight. Head to your local boutique butcher and purchase some Caviar-fed Kobe Beef. You don’t want to be caught throwing cheap EBT-financed Turkey Sausage on the grill when your mates come over to behold the most memorable match that the qualifying stages have to offer.

The Kazakhs are bringing out the “big guns”. They’ve deputized all of the one player who ever sat on the bench during a match in the Third Bundesliga! Not to be outdone, the mighty “Almost-Shetlands” have responded with the very best striker that the Norwegian Fourth League has to offer.

It’s one for the ages! Sarcastic quips aside, nearly 19,000 people will watch it live in the state-of-the-art Astana Arena situated on the outskirts of Kazakhstan’s picturesque oasis capital. Nearly 800,000 people call the oddly modern sprawl home. Still think the Kazakhs were wrong to sue after Borat?

THE LINE: Kazakhstan + 4 Goals

Deutschland vs. Austria


Anschluß baby! It’s always a gas when these two nations get together. What could possibly go wrong? We’re going to go ahead and bitchslap our limping little brother alpha-Kraut style. Come Saturday morning, the Mannschaft may officially book travel arrangements for Rio.

With respect to the squad, this big news is that Löw has called up old man Klose for what will surely constitute his farewell tour. Götze’s now running with the Big Boys at Bayern and Schweine FINALLY appears fully fit. Other than that, nothing particularly interesting to report. The Final Stages of the Fatherland’s qualifying campaign generate about as much intrigue as the upcoming Federal Election. Both are flavorless formalities that we have to traverse gritting our teeth.

It’s all about execution. Get the job done, Leute. Secure passage to Brazil and reinstall the inept “Grand Coalition”. Ho-hum. Enthusiasm deferred. 

THE LINE: Deutschland + 3 Goals

Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden


Get ready for one helluva scrappy fight. The Blaugults unexpectedly dropped a gimme to the Austrians back in June, resurrecting the moribund qualifying hopes of Trappatoni & Co.

The Paddies have a serious shot assuming they can run the table against inconsistent opposition. The cat a’int exactly in the sack (as Trappatoni would put it), but there’s real reason to assume he a’int dead!


Alright. I’ll admit it. I essentially said the same thing four years ago ; ( The Micks exert  mystical powers over bookmakers. We talk ourselves into them. We allow ourselves to be infectiously swayed by such fallacious thoughts as “Perhaps Keene still has plenty left in the tank”, or “But Hoolahan and O’Shea still hustle!”

Grrr….Stop talking yourself into them Vicey! Since finishing a Henry Handball short of a place in South Africa, Trappatoni has stubbornly clung to a group of aged relics who exhibit about as much creative prowess on the pitch as the current Taoiseach.

No! NO! Not this time! The man who brought us “WAS ERLAUBT STRUNZ” is finished and so is his team!

There is no “cat in the sack”! The only fucking cat one should reference when attempting to prognosticate Irish prospects is Schrödinger’s. I can’t see inside that box! I’ve no clue if that cat is breathing! What I do know is that I’m not doing this anymore. ;( I’m through losing money on these “Erratic Erins!” NO MORE!  WAS ERLAUBT DIE IRREN?

Die Katze ist tot.

”Ich habe Fertig”

THE LINE: Sweden + 2 Goals

Romania vs. Hungary


We’ll label this one the “Castlevannia Clash”. Yes, I’m hopeless. I can’t stop. In eleven years of writing the Syndicate, I’ve not once been able to sit down and compose a section on my…Romanians without succumbing to the urge to broach the Belmonts.

Sorry. I own every last deep-cut remix of “Vampire Killer” that exists. The complete works of the Konami Kukeiha reside on my i-pod. The pump me up on the treadmill. I really am trying ; ( On this particular day I resolved to write something enlightening about Bogdan Stancu’s rollicking start in the Turkish League….then I spent twelve minutes on Youtube jamming’ out to this remix:

THE LINE: Romania + 1 Goal

Turkey vs. Andorra


How does Europe end up with so many absurdly preposterous microstates? Well, in Andorra’s case there was a valley in the Pyrenees. That’s more or less the story. There was a valley in the Pyrenees. Nice natural fortification. Approximately 1300 years ago, right about the time the Moors turned up, the denizens of the valley discovered just how resourceful natural fortification. Invading Islamic hoards? Fuck that. We’ve got ourselves a Valley! Good luck trying to catch us off guard!

500 years and probably 5000 Counts, Viscounts, Dukes, Archdukes, Privy Seals, Bishops, Deacons, co-Princes, and other dubious regimes of authority later, the “People of the Valley” had their own country. Things may have gotten a bit ridiculous for the Valley dwellers over the course of a 20th Century during which the sophisticated weapons of modern warfare rendered the whole valley fortification concept moot, but soon they had another reason for existing. International tax accords? Fuck that. We’ve got ourselves a Valley! Good luck trying to catch us off guard!
So endeth the lesson. Professor Pete’s Seminar adjourned. Go Crescent Stars! Auf geht’s Brüder!!

THE LINE: Turkey + 4 Goals

Estonia vs. The Netherlands


This one should prove a treat. “Goofy Finns” vs. “Goofy Germans”. These two countries share in common the undeniable fact that their spoken languages sound like Jerry Lewis on a cocaine bender. (“undeniable” in this context being a highly relative descriptive modifier).

Where “was” we? Oh right. Europhiles such as myself have a real heartbreak crush on the people of Estonia. They upped their HDI Scores, accelerated their country’s technological revolution, and even adopted our crappy currency all within the span of EIGHT years. All of us EU Proponents owe the Estonian people some major groveling. It’s a genuine EU success story! When writing on the EU, this ghost has found himself backed into frightening corners on occasions too numerous to count. Just when I became convinced that I had accomplished nothing besides destroying my own argument, the Estonians always come to my rescue. Thanks for pushing Schengen eastward brothers! I owe you my livelihood.

The Brilliant Orange look set to demolish my beloved heroes with all the ease of a boulder tripped by an ill-fated field mouse. In spite of their current struggles “Clockwork Oranje” remain, pound-for-pound, one of the most dangerous squads in contention. The immortal Louis van Gaal has them flying like true Dutchmen. They’re entitled to a place in Brazil, much in the way that Wilhelm was entitled to…….whatever the hell the Dutch monarchy does. Can someone explain that to me? I understand the British monarchy’s job. They wave and provide tabloid fodder. What the regnanting fuck do the Dutch royals do? No one even gossips about them?     

THE LINE: The Netherlands + 5 Goals

Czech Republic vs. Armenia


The Czech Republic’s failure to qualify for South Africa 2010 infuriated me so deeply that I wrote the following:

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate: Afterlife”

I won’t have Vaclav Klaus to kick around anymore L. Likewise, Peter Cech, Thomas Rosicky, Michal Kadlec, Radoslav Kovac, and Jan Simunek and any reference to how disgusting Pilsner-Urquell tastes are gone…gone I tell you!!! No!! Why?!?!  Everything has gone wrong, thanks to Klaus’s footnote, I will not be able to reclaim my house in the Sudetenland!!

Speaking of Klaus’s footnote, I believe we may finally concur that this man has no agenda. The reason? What passes for his “mind” is merely a historical hangover of paranoia. Seriously, here we have a man who has Europe by the balls. All 27 Member States watch with bated breath as grumpy uncle Vaclav composes a list of his demands. What does he want? Money? Sex? Drugs? Opt-out clauses? Skewed representations? Veto Rights? Parliamentary horse-trading? Nope. All Uncle Vaclav wants is a guarantee that Germans expelled after the war will not be legally able to return and claim their land. Vaclav, I don’t know how you missed this but the war ended 60+ years ago and the Iron Curtain fell some 20 years ago. During this time, I don’t believe any Germans have said, “Schatz, why don’t we pack up and head for Opa’s old farm out in the Sudetenland? Things are cluttered here, especially in the garage. I need a little Lebensraum.” If this twit is not paranoid about the Germans, it's the Soviets or the EU. Yet, under his auspices, American slackers have swarmed Prague “teaching English” and “finding themselves” (That is “being lazy” and “doing lots of drugs”). You’ve already been invaded, and it ain’t the Krauts who have taken you over!

I bring this up because Bilek’s underachieving boys look set to blow it all over again. They’ve dropped valuable points to the Danes, Wops, and Bulgarians. It doesn’t appear as if they can recover in time. This bookie did manage to correctly predict that they would surpass expectations in Euro 2012. Accordingly, I’ll now fearlessly augur that they’ll fall tragically short here. This match serves as their final “walkover”. Enjoy it while you can, my bitter pills.

THE LINE: Czech Republic + 2 Goals

Malta vs. Denmark


Absolutely hate to be that miserly, egocentric bastard in a self-obsessed mood, but the Danes have had a disastrous qualifying campaign and we won’t be seeing them. This makes me morose. Your friendly bookie loves his Danes. Upon confirming that they secured qualification four years ago, he had this to write:

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate: Afterlife”

Copenhagen’s comin’ along! Hmm. I should preface that I am referring to the Danish National Football Team and not the “Climate Change Treaty”. That accord is not “coming along” very well at all. If you’re hoping for some sort of multilateral breakthrough at the Copenhagen Conference in December (that includes you Angie), you’re dreaming! Kyoto had much more willpower, and cuter waitresses. I’ve been searching everywhere for the U.S. Position Points for the Copenhagen Conference, only to discover that there aren’t any. Whoops. This could be Barack Obama’s worst visit to Copenhagen since…..nevermind. Let’s skip it.

I’m ordinarily not a fan of the Danes. They ticketed me once for crashing a Lego Car. On top of that, they want to kill puppies and eat kittens. Okay I made the part about kittens up. In spite of my preconceived prejudices, I’m getting motivated for the Danes using two new cheers I just invented:

1) Ever since a Jeopardy! Clue a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had the song “Da Da Da” from 1980s German New Wave Band “Trio” stuck in my head. Though the German Kraftwerk clones disbanded in 1985, a Volkswagen commercial in 1997 revived the song and elevated the band to cult status. Does anyone remember what I’m talking about?
“Da Da Da. Ich lieb dich nicht du liebst mich nicht….uh-uh…da da da” Two guys drive around in a Volkswagen Golf, pick up a couch from the garbage and then drop it after determining that it doesn’t smell so good? Anyone? Oh for Christ Sake, here’s the link:

The song is virtually impossible to expel from one’s head. Here’s my effort:
“Da Da Danes….Da Da Danes…….Da Da Danes……Da Da Danes. Ich lieb euch nicht. Ihr liebt mich nicht…uh-uh….Da Da Danes…..Da  Da Danes…..Da Da Danes”

2) Gøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøøø Danes!!!!
Yes, like a Druish Prince at Hanukah, I am so overjoyed to have found out how to make an “ø” on my keyboard. Now all I have left to figure out is this weird Froggy circumflex. Join me in welcoming the following Danish players:

-Anders Møller Christenson
-Thomas Sørenson
-Per Krøldrup
-Jesper Grønkjar
-Martin Jørgenson

“Vicey, you’ve just posted old material for the SECOND consecutive match!! I cry foul!!”

Regrettably true. ; ( ; (  No deliberate laziness here. I simply can’t think of anything interesting to tell you about Malta. Their team is nicknamed “The Maltese Falcons” Wow. Who would have guessed?

THE LINE: Denmark + 4 Goals

Italy vs. Bulgaria


We haven’t seen the Bulgarians since EM 2004. Now they’re kicking ass, taking names, and threatening to burst back onto our radar. They’ve even done it all without Dimitar Berbatov or Lothar Matthäus. The Lions have an energetic young captain in striker Ivelin Popov and priceless veteran leadership from mainstays like Georgi Iliev and Stanislav Manolev.

This match notwithstanding, they have a soft enough schedule to attain a playoff spot down the stretch. For now they’ll have to contend with a loss courtesy of a Balotelli Brace. After that, we should be prepared to welcome back our Sofia Siblings. 

THE LINE: Italy + 2 Goals

Macedonia vs. Wales


Here we have something that doesn’t exactly qualify as a football match. The Macedonians (a.k.a. F.Y.R.O.M) are a former Yugoslav Republic whose only claim to fame involves regularly pissing off the Greeks. The Welsh (a.k.a. ‘The Arthurians’) are nothing more than sad vestigial descendants of once proud Roman colonizers forced into cramped inbreeding by Gothic and Nordic invaders.

If nothing about the above paragraph makes any sense to you, it’s okay ; ) I don’t blame you for not wasting your life reading obscure irrelevant nonsense. There’s a new flavor of potato chips in the aisle of your local supermarket. Give them a try and relax. In the final analysis, I’m sure you’ll end up much happier than me. ; ) I mean that sincerely. Enjoy your life ; )   

Back to this puzzling encounter. What to make of a match between two bottom feeders? My money’s on Gareth Bale. He’s incredible. What a footballer! Congrats on your Real contract Gareth!

THE LINE: Wales + 1 Goal

Serbia vs. Croatia


ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Might as well organize a “Sunni vs. Shi’ite” match. Have a real bad feeling about this one. ; ( It’s scheduled to take place in Belgrade…with a German referee. I’ll reiterate my long held belief that Croat fans are nothing more than a bunch of worthless hooligans:

From EM 2012—Day Seven Recap

Fuck you, you puerile tablecloth-clad fucktards. You’re useless. You Slavic sacks of shit! Nothing more than an embarrassment to football, yourselves, and the human race in general. Cart your smelly Slavic arses the hell out of this EM. You can get the fuck out of NATO, the UN, and any other civilized inter-governmental organization while you’re at it. Fuck your EU-Membership bid. You make the Greeks look responsible. You want to behave like a bunch of disorderly children?  Do it in own shitty, squalid, foul, and detestable homeland. You were guests of the Poles this week, just as you were guests of the Germans in 2006. Still you continue to throw your burning road flares onto the pitch. Do you also take a steaming shit on someone’s dinner table when they invite you over and cook for you? Wouldn’t put it past such detestable, disgusting savages such as yourselves.

What the Slav-stenching fuck is wrong with you morons? You ignore the appeals of your own players. You deny them an offensive counter as they disappeared into the smoke. You hold on to a ball shot into the stands, further depriving your boys of a chance to score a go-ahead goal. No more, Mr. Nice Kraut. You want road flares? I’m going to “invite” myself over to your country to burn every last one of your shitty hovels to the ground.

As for the Serbs…..the got Mladic! They did it. They won’t qualify for Brazil, but they’ll earn a moral victory against the Croat reserves. 

THE LINE: Serbia + 1 Goal

Scotland vs. Belgium


The Belgians are most assuredly headed to Brazil. Let that sink in. It’s happening. The most arbitrarily conceived country in the entire history of the planet is coming along. This bookie can scarcely believe it. The Belgians?!!?

It’s been over ten years since I’ve written something about the Belgians. Here’s what I had to say back in 2002:

From “WM 2002—The Humble Beginnings of a Syndicate”


Though this team has attained the title of “Red Devils”, I prefer to call them the “Brussels Sprouts”. Beyond Bruge and Anderslecht, there exists no perceptible reason to give two shits about Belgium football…let alone the country itself. Douglas Adams once bleatingly fictionalized an instance in which Belgium was the most obscene intergalactic insult. Good for him. I cannot expect to top that.

I’m shakin’ in my boots. The Scots have already been eliminated. The “Belgian Red Devils” will take advantage. I’ve less than ten months to get acquainted with the Belgians. This isn’t happening ; ( ; (

THE LINE: Belgium +1 Goal

Norway vs. Cyprus


Who else is tired of reading about Cyprus? Trick question. This divided microcosm of a country conceals lessons of vital importance for all of us. Ahem. When dealing with the freewheeling arithmetically inclined wizards of international finance, is it really fair to fuck over pensioners in the interest of obverting contagion/preserving the integrity of the globalized fake commodity exchange?

The answer is “hell no”, even if the crucial thrust of entrepreneurship suggests otherwise. No reason to hate on mathematically sound economists. They know what they’re doing, even if they happen to be horribly shitty writers (think Paul Krugman). Capitalism isn’t the enemy. What no one should abide is the ruthless use of monetary policy. The Cypriot Solution was to sacrifice the hard-earned living of honest workers in order to catch a few tax cheats. Noble goal. Still, monetary policy always tends towards the better off.

Consider our current “QE Situation”. By artificially suppressing interest rates, we assist those willing to leverage while punishing those hoping to save. This is theoretically supposed to spur a sustainable economic recovery. Well…it’s been over five years. Anyone see a sustainable economic recovery?

I’m still looking. Maybe it’s between the couch cushions…. ; ( ; (

THE LINE: Norway + 3 Goals

Slovenia vs. Albania


Interesting...two tiny states vying for influence. One is an EU member. The other fights for a seat at OSCE meetings. We’ll stick with Slovenia, even if they remain unkind to their ethnic Albanian minority.

THE LINE: Slovenia +2 Goals

Switzerland vs. Iceland


The preceding Summer afforded your friendly bookie a chance to deeply research the “Ice Dottirs”

From FEM 2013—Round Three

10) Iceland (Previously #3)

“Sorry girls. It was pure laziness that led me to effectively skip over you as if you were some worthless backwater like Mississippi. I fucked up. You have no much to offer this tournament. Your striking beauty AND striking prowess shall henceforth not be overlooked! Trouble is, it will take me time to sort through the tangled, sordid mess that is your surnames. You’re all named Dóttir! I’m not kidding. Have I stumbled into some sort of comically devised RPG dwarf village? I can’t reasonably be expected to differentiate between you right away. Give me time. I’ll get to you when I can. I do have a job, you know.”

I can’t believe I forgot! The suffix “dottir” means “daughter”. All Icelandic children are named “sson” or “dottir”! Think of the great Magnus VerMagnusson! Duh. Anyway, it’s been a pleasure getting to know this team. Having been busy, I’m still a little slow on the uptake. No matter. I’ll have more to write about this team….just not tonight ; )

This isn’t to say that I don’t wish the “ssons” all the best, especially against the parasitical Swiss. It’s still not going to work.

THE LINE: Switzerland +2 Goals

Russia vs. Luxembourg


We’re not having the discussion on Russia’s anti-gay laws. Zero chance. Pour all the Stoli down the drain if it makes you feel better. Talk about boycotting the Sochi Olympics if you must. I personally find it uninteresting, and that has nothing to do with the ever-blunt Dan Savage. Express your identity in whatever way you choose. I’m just not interested.

Enough “Identity Politics” research.  I’ve done my time. I put in my years. Leave me in peace ; )

THE LINE: Russia + 3 Goals

Northern Ireland vs. Portugal


The Unionists aren’t getting anywhere here. Slaughter time, you blind protestant tools.  

THE LINE: Portugal + 5 Goals

Israel vs. Azerbaijan


On the topic of “bad jokes”, a Jewish kid asks his father for five dollars:

Kid: Dad, can I borrow five dollars?

Dad: TEN DOLLARS?? What do you need fifteen dollars for?

Kid: Ummmm…I actually wanted…

Dad: I’m sure as hell not going to give you twenty dollars unless you give me a good reason why I should loan you thirty dollars.

Kid: The candy costs…

Dad: No way I’m giving you fifty dollars. Everyone asks me for an extra one hundred dollars. I’m not a bank! No thousand dollars for you!

Kid: Er….forget it.

Dad: I’m not forgetting two million dollars!!

The Jews retain the status of the favorites. That doesn’t mean I’m rooting for them. Not after this:

THE LINE: Israel +1 Goal

Latvia vs. Lithuania


Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Three countries that should have joined the Euro-zone as soon as the Great Recession hit. A quick look above will inform you as to why I only continue to care about one of them.

 THE LINE: Pick em’

Bosnia & Herzegovina vs. Slovakia


Vladimir Weiss Sr. no longer pulls the strings. Vladimir Weiss Jr. remains active as a productive midfielder for Olympiacos. It’s up to you whether or not you wish to believe in B & H after the loss of Montenegro and (tangentially) Kosovo. Pick your Balkan poison.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Greece vs. Liechtenstein


Both countries may be a joke of sorts, but one of them knows how to please their Portuguese coach. Make your wager.

THE LINE: Greece +3 Goals

England vs. Moldova


Four years ago I opined a bit on Moldova’s “mini revolution”

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengeance”

Israel v. Moldova

I must be careful not to say about against Moldova here. They’re quite good at using Facebook to organize violence.

Such words were written long before the onset of the Arab Spring. We didn’t yet know about the power of the Tunisians to organize. Moreover, we couldn’t have foreseen the ability of the Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis and Bahrainis to follow suit.

However much power we invest in “Facebook Revolutions”, one must recall how they failed in places like Moldova, Iran, Egypt (yes), and
Bahrain (double yes). Sometimes the power of short-term gratification just isn’t enough….

THE LINE: England + 1 Goal

Ukraine vs. San Marino


Shevchencko’s forgotten gang sits in a precarious position. Tymoschuk and Yaromolenko need a big win here to stay alive. They’ll deliver…for now.

THE LINE: Ukraine + 6 Goals

Poland vs. Montenegro


The Poles don’t have a great of hope left. They have about as much hope as Kaczynski has of recapturing the presidency. They’ll win this one, but not by enough to resuscitate their hopes.

THE LINE: Poland +2 Goals

Georgia vs. France


I hate proffering unoriginal thoughts!!! We must simply because we must,,,..

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate: Afterlife”

f) Medvedev came. Sign of class. Russian leadership may be ruthless, but no, paranoid nut jobs…they are not interested in re-conquering Eastern Europe. And don’t you even think about feeding me this Georgian War bullshit! Though Russia should take responsibility for issuing passports, recognizing the independence of Abkhazia/South Ossetia, and escalating the conflict, it seems to me impossible, based on the OSCE Report, that they started the whole mess. Saakashvili clearly fired the first shot. He too, is a supreme dick.

Fuck Saakashvili. The man is a virus. Blanc and the boys will win big.

THE LINE: France + 3 Goals

Finland vs. Spain


La Roja shouldn’t even be required to qualify. THREE major titles in succession? Why can’t we just proclaim “case closed”?

THE LINE: Spain +4 Goals


Macedonia vs. Scotland


Farewell to the Scots. They were colonized by wankers anyway. Last chance.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Wales vs. Serbia


Might as well kiss the Serbs goodbye while we’re at it. They may win this one, but it’s definitely over.

THE LINE: Serbia + 2 Goals

Armenia vs. Denmark


The Danes will win big. One can’t help but feel sorry for one’s poor auto mechanic. I miss you, Sepu ; ) Fuck those useless self-entitled Californians! You’re doing a great job!

THE LINE: Denmark + 2 Goals

Malta vs. Bulgaria


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….hrmph! What say you? The Maltese Falcons vs. The Tricolor Lions? I was in the midst of a perfectly good dream! Asshole!


THE LINE: Bulgaria +2 Goals

Italy vs. Czech Republic


Do or die time for Billek and the boys. Here’s where it gets interesting.

THE LINE: Italy +2 Goals

Kazakhstan vs. Sweden


IBRA-HIM-O-VIC!! It’s his time to shine. He might even score a goal worthy of this one:

THE LINE: Sweden + 3 Goals

Austria vs. Ireland


The Paddies might pull out a win here. Then again….it’s probably time for Trappatoni to return to Italy.

THE LINE: Austria +1 Goal

Faroe Islands vs. Deutschland


Point of clarification requested. Is it pronounced [FA-rOW] Islands or [PHA-ROAH] Islands?

Keep in mind that the following line is by no means a typo.

THE LINE: Deutschland +11 Goals

Romania vs. Turkey


No typo here either. This bookie expects nothing but the best from his Turks.

THE LINE: Turkey +2 Goals

Andorra vs. The Netherlands


What sort of sick joke is this? It’s Europe. The whole damn continent is a sick joke ; (

THE LINE: The Netherlands + 6 Goals

Hungary vs. Estonia


I’m very glad that both of these countries broke free of Soviet oppression. I’m also very glad that no one cares about either one of them…except for us Europhiles ; )

THE LINE: Pick em’

Norway vs. Switzerland


The Swiss deserve to know it feels like to face off against a “real country”. Hence, the line is high. Good luck there, alpine assholes. I’ll see you in Brazil…but I won’t be happy about it.

THE LINE: Norway + 1 Goal

Cyprus vs. Slovenia


Alonzo Bodden likes to ask, “who’s payin’ attention”? Not me. Not when it come to this match.

THE LINE: Slovenia + 4 Goals

Iceland vs. Albania


I don’t even know what to say. It’s the Shark Fishermen versus the Mediterranean wannabes. Everyone wants to be a star. The footballers contesting this match should keep that in mind.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Russia vs. Israel


Among the things that the Israelis should keep in mind: You wouldn’t have a fucking country were it not for Russian immigrants. You shouldn’t even have a country if you’re not willing to be humble about it. You only have your country because WE (the world) let you have it, We felt sorry for you. Don’t test our patience.

THE LINE: Russia + 1 Goal

Luxembourg vs. Northern Ireland


Don’t hate the Ulster Unionists. Don’t hate Sinn Fein either (even if they deserve to be hated). The Syndicate is non-sectarian…just like the “Holy Family” in “The Boxer”. We love all people, sophisticated Jews and barbaric Arabs alike.

Still striving to get used to the idea of Luxembourg without Jean-Claude Junker. It’s akin to getting used to gasoline without a mark-up. It just doesn’t compute. Someone recruit Junker back.

THE LINE: Northern Ireland +1 Goal

Lithuania vs. Liechtenstein


Who’s side are you on? The “sliver” of a country or the “silver” of country? My money’s on the rich biatches….at least for now.

THE LINE: Lithuania + 1 Goal

Slovakia vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina


It’s not that I’m against B & H. They simply don’t have it in them; not after Sliskovic left anyway. Bosnian qualification is all but certain. S’true. We’ll see them in Brazil. Do they possess the strength to fend off worthy opponents in a meaningless match? This bookie says no.

THE LINE: Slovakia + 2 Goals

Greece vs. Latvia


If only everyone could kindly stop shamelessly satirizing the Greeks…..let them be. They’ve suffered enough already. Come on over to Brazil.

THE LINE: Greece +3 Goals

Ukraine vs. England


As evenly matched as these two sides are, one has to assume that Three Lions will manage to dig deep and eke out a victory.

THE LINE: England +1 Goal

San Marino vs. Poland


Awfully close in Group H. With goal differential sure to be a factor, both Lewandoski and Blaszczykowski better be on the hunt for Hat Tricks.

THE LINE: Poland +6 Goals

Georgia vs. Finland


Several Syndicate members have signed up for Finnish courses at the Learning Annex after meeting Tujia Hyyryen:

From FEM 2013—Quarterfinals

Tuija Hyyryen affords us an opportunity to explore the once again explore the indefinable concept of the “Perfect Girl Next Door”. (Sometimes referred to as “The Pristine Farmer’s Daughter” in certain circles.) What do guys mean by this?  I’ve tried to tackle this in previous installments and honestly haven’t done all that great of a job at all : (

I’m still fumbling for answers. All one can truly say concerns the fact that there is a certain kind of adorable cuteness that makes even the most foulmouthed of sinners want to foreswear drinking, cursing, and gambling….forever. One look at Tuija Hyyryen leaves one feeling as if its time to move to the country, buy a tractor, and start a small ministry. Don’t take my word for it, now. See for yourself:


I need to buy a farm. Doesn’t anyone know where I can find some reasonably priced sheep? No more gambling columns for your friendly bookie. All I want to do is scythe grass, breed bunnies, and cultivate alfalfa sprouts. I want to wake up to this beautiful girl’s incredible smile every morning, and make sweet passionate love to her every night. Time to settle down and get back to the simple life. We’ll till the earth until 4 p.m., then play football with the kids in the field until sunset. Country Roads….take me home…to ze place…….where I BELONG!

Whoa. What just happened there? SNAP OUT OF IT VICEY! Whew. I don’t know where I just was, but I’m back. How do these “Girls Next Door/Pristine Farmer’s Daughters” do it? I still can’t tell you exactly. Three factors help.

1) Height

She has to be small. No taller than 5’5’’ (164 cms). Taller women engender an entirely different sort of attraction.

2) Facial Structure

All varieties work, but “The Girl Next Door” has to sport a round-ish face. 

3) Smile

That smile constitutes the “real deal”. She’s not faking or posing! Everything about it screams, “Don’t you want to get to know a nice girl? I’m not crazy! I’m sweet and mentally stable! I won’t drive you up the fucking wall with incessant neediness!”

Beyond that, most men exhibit two kinds of inherent primal attraction. The first is pure, unadulterated sexual lust:


“Holy shit! Did you see the ass on that redhead? What I wouldn’t tear up given a few minutes alone in the dark with that! Follow the erection!

However, a man’s softer, more supple paternalistic instincts shouldn’t be discounted either.


“Awww..Look at the sweet, innocent little round-faced girl. I’d love to cradle her in my arms and tenderly love her like a big brother.”

The former type leads to some fairly rough sexual escapades and over ninety-five percent of one’s relationships. Very rarely does the latter type lead to anything other than friendship. It’s not an implicitly sexual attraction, after all. Once in a very blue moon, a girl can somehow dial up the right combination of these two instincts and the man swoons in a way even Percy Sledge couldn’t sing about. He’ll give up EVERYTHING. That’s the magic of “The Girl Next Door” 

THE LINE: Finland + 3 Goals

Belarus vs. France


Yeah….good stopping point for today. White Russian, anyone?

THE LINE: France +3 Goals


Just about wrapped up here as the Asian Football Confederation heads into its fifth and final round. Asian qualifying features two knockout stage rounds followed by two group stages. Higher ranked teams are allowed to bypass the aggregate knockout rounds by being seeded. No big shocks as World Cup regulars Japan, South Korea, and Australia took advantage of high seeding that enabled them to sit out the first two rounds. The Iranians only received a first round bye, but were fortunate enough to draw the Maldives in the midst of a coup for the easy advance.

Some interesting countries made it out of the First Round. The Vietnamese thrashed Macau 13-1 on aggregate before getting convincingly thrown out by Qatar. Basement ranked teams (the Philippines and Myanmar) both pulled upsets. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) came oh so close to scalping the Malaysians.

None of the First Round victors advanced to the group stages, but we still got an interesting mix. Lucky draws for Singapore (Malaysia), Lebanon (Bangladesh) Thailand (Palestine), Tajikistan (Syria) saw them through. In Tajikistan’s case, they even lost both playoff legs to Syria, but were subsequently awarded a forfeit after the world’s powder keg was found to have fielded an ineligible player. Tsk. Tsk. Cheating Syrians. Who would have imagined that?

Despite being placed in arguably the weakest group the Chinese blew it….again. This go around they dropped points to far less talented Jordanian and Iraqi sides. The Koreans and Australians breezed through their respective Third Round Groups on cruise control, while the Japanese struggled to secure narrow wins against the Tajiks and North Koreans. In what may very well be the biggest upset of any qualifying match, the Uzbeks blanked the Japs 1-0 in front of 42,000 Shell-shocked Nippons at Toyota Stadium.

Surprise participants in the Fourth Round Group stage included Lebanon, Oman, and Jordan. While the first two floundered predictably, Jordan somewhat managed to earn improbable victories against BOTH the Japs and the Aussies.

That brings us to this week’s playoff. The Third Place teams from each Fourth Round Group will square off against one another. The aggregate winner of these two matches will go on to face the fifth placed team from Latin America in an inter-continental playoff.

Jordan vs. Uzbekistan


In honor of Herman Cain, I’ve long since proposed that the latter country be rechristened “Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan”. Get used to that gag, as you’ll see a great deal more of it. The “White Wolves” are a better football team. They’ve got Vitaly Denisov of Lokomotiv Moscow and Server Djeparaov of Seongham in Korea. One’s heart often tends toward Jordan, home of benevolent and educated monarchs who take white women as wives.

No, King Abdullah II isn’t the son of Queen Noor (the American third wife) He’s the issue of King Hussein’s second wife (The Brit). And…he proved quite adept at picking a hot wife for himself. Queen Rania looks scorching, even at the age of 42:

Yes, the Jordanians know how to keep their shit tight. This is an old school royal family that believes in über-educating their children. No inbred decadent dullards here. Study your ass off if you want to be King. You’ve got twelve siblings to compete against. It’s something of a meritocracy, despite being a monarchy. Who knows if it will last? American comedians of Arabic heritage seem to like it.

All “the royal we” know for sure is that they won’t be coming to Brazil. 

THE LINE: Uzbekistan +1 Goal


Jordan vs. Uzbekistan


And on home turf, the Uzbeks will seal the deal.

THE LINE: Uzbekistan +2 Goals


Thanks to last Winter’s “CAN 2013—Syndicate: Dark Continent” and the prominence of the Super Eagles at this Summer’s Confederations Cup, I’m more pumped up than ever for what promised to be one the best African Rounds yet! Viva Africa!

Before delving into all the fascinating up-to-date news, let’s undertake a brief flit into the past:

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengeance”

Quite an action-packed weekend on tap for Africa Fans! Right at the top, I should take a page from Brüno and Sarah Palin and suggest we stop treating the whole of Africa as a continent. If Muammar Gaddafi AU Presidency didn’t convince you, perhaps the stones he garnered for his rambling U.N. address will. According to some reports, a total of THREE interpreters said, “fuck it. I’m tired and this guy is batshit crazy.” He finished with an empty booth. Beyond the comic relief, you have a largely authoritarian Arab north, an East plagued by ethnic conflict, a West perpetually afflicted by resource conflict and a south that just can’t seem to assume the mantle.

I suppose what I’m advocating is a more regionalized integration project. “Ubuntu” may be more effective if its not continent wide.  But what the hell do I know? I’m no Horace Campbell.  I do know that we’ll be missing out on some quality Sub-Saharan teams, some of which could truly use a World Cup Berth to cheer about. It looks as if Cote d’ivoire will finish qualifying by the end of the weekend. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Kenya, Rwanda, Benin, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Malawi. Tough road ahead for Gabon, Togo, and Nigeria too.

Hehehe. Love it. The former paragraph demonstrates that things do indeed change while the latter evidences the fact that your friendly bookie can indeed spend four years complaining about the SAME DAMN THING. ; )I suppose the least cynical conclusion one can draw from it is that the world changes, but Vicey doesn’t appear to ; ( Yep. That’s the LEAST cynical conclusion.

CAF Qualifying utilizes a Euro-Asia Hybrid System. Higher ranked countries are automatically seeded into a single Group Stage whilst lower ranked ones must earn their place via an Aggregate Knockout Round.

28 Nations were automatically seeded into the Group Stage while 24 lower ranked countries fought for the remaining twelve spots. The forty. CAF then divides the forty teams into ten groups. Ten group winners then square off against each other for Africa’s five qualifying places.

Of the twelve “Cinderella Candidates” emerging from the Knockout Stage only Ethiopia remains alive. The Africans will play their final group stage games this week with the playoffs to take place in October and November. The 21 eliminated teams are: the Central African Republic (C.A.R), Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, Tanzania, Gambia, Sudan, Lesotho, Niger, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Mozambique, Mali, Benin, Rwanda, Congo DR, Togo, Angola and Liberia.

The only teams having already clinched advancement are Algeria, Egypt, and Cote D’Ivoire. Seven more teams will join this trio at the conclusion of the round. Of the 19 teams still in contention South Africa looks to be on the hot seat. Their qualification hopes are on life support.


Ghana vs. Zambia


Rest in peace, Professor John Atta Mills. The Black Stars shall rise again. You have the Americans to beat, do you not?

THE LINE: Ghana +1 Goal


Angola vs. Liberia


The Black Antelopes have already been eliminated….and I already miss them.

From CAN 2013—“Syndicate: Dark Continent”

Viva la Black Antelopes! I’m positively giddy about seeing this country compete again. That isn’t to suggest that I have in any way forgotten the shameful fatal attack by Cabndian Rebels when they shot up the Togolese convoy during the 2010 African Cup of Nations. Christ, what a terrible episode. Every football lover recalls that abhorrently horrendous day. Much like Adebayor and the entire Togolese squad, I was out after that.

As hosts that year, the Angolans bore the responsibility of providing adequate security. The possibility that the country’s endemic civil strife would spill over into an opportunistic strike against military escorts should have been anticipated. Shame on all those involved in the logistics. Angola should have been punished, not Togo.

Of course, we must ultimately put such tragic occurrences behind us. After all, the Angolans were not actually the perpetrators of such heinous acts. Some dickless separatist rebels were. The victims included all those involved in the tournament, including football lovers worldwide. If there remains something to be resentful toward, let’s settle on those arbitrary 1884 borders. There we are. Place the blame on Bismarck and move on…

The Black Antelopes were one of the real treats of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Arguably the weakest team in the tournament, they fought exceedingly hard to supply us all with some thoroughly entertaining football. That team also featured colorful characters like Flavio, Titi Buego, Lebo Lebo, and Akwa. The fans were an instant hit in beloved old Deutschland, as was the only AFRICAN coach to actually coach an AFRICAN team (Luis Olivera Gonclaves).

Current squad director Gustavo Ferrin is a Uruguayan who arrived from across the pond just last summer. His team selection reeks of insecurity and desperation. In the past month he’s called up a now 33-year-old Flavio, a nearly 34-year-old Love, along with well past-their-prime elders Dede and Gilberto.

The use of such “blasts from tournament’s past” will likely prove decisively dumb, given the tantamount importance of speed in the African game, particularly in the middle of the pitch. There is hope in that strikers Manucho and Matheus appear in peak form…but that will matter little if no one can generate some useful feeders.  

THE LINE: Angola +2 Goals

Senegal vs. Uganda


The “Lions of Teranga” should finally make their may back into a meaningful international competition. Can’t wait to see you guys. Macky Sall kicks ass!

The LINE: Senegal +2 Goals

South Africa vs. Botswana


Do or die time for Igesund and Bafana. We’ll predict a win here, but only by the slightest of margins.

THE LINE: South Africa +1 Goal

Central African Republic vs. Ethiopia


The overachieving Antelopes have us all in a state of shock. I cannot expect them to hang on. Honestly. As a thrice-bitten East Africa lover, I refuse to bet on the realization of this dream.

THE LINE: C.A.F. + 2 Goals

Sierra Leone vs. Equatorial Guinea


Nothing much to report on, given that both of these countries are eliminated. There is this little prize of a nugget from the past:

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengeance”:

Once more tranquil times resume, we must take up the cause of the preponderance of countries on this planet named some variant of “Guinea”. We’ve got “Guinea”, “Equatorial Guinea”, “Guinea-Bissau”, “Papua New Guinea”, “Guyana” and “French Guinea” (in South America). Arghhh!! This single-handedly sunk my chances for the Jeopardy! College Championship. L

THE LINE: Equatorial Guinea + 1 Goal

Tunisia vs. Cape Verde

If only we could retain some hope for the beloved Archipelago:

From CAN 2013—“Syndicate—Dark Continent”

Cape Verde (Winning Odds 11-1)

Er…right. Apparently, the Seychelles couldn’t make it. They had a “business lunch”.  The “one-two” 2012/2013 Punch has lent this tournament some much-needed diversity. The 2012 affair featured a record three countries competing for the first time in ANY sort of international stage. Last year, the boys from the Kalahari Bush (otherwise known as the Botswana Zebras) somehow managed to sneak in. Niger punched through surprisingly and Equatorial Guinea made their debut as co-hosts.

Such an unfamiliar makeup represented a marked shift from previous years, and a welcome one at that. In far too many previous tournaments one could likely rattle off the names of the contesting countries without even following the qualifying rounds. The traditional West African powerhouses (Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana) would be present alongside the Northwest mainstays (Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia) with a perhaps a token Southern Country (Angola, Mozambique, or East Africa) thrown in for good measure.

The times may be a-changing, though the pace can seem agonizingly glacial. The competition remains predominantly a West African Affair; with Ethiopia’s return after a thirty-plus year absence the only country giving residents east of the Congo reason to cheer. Then there’s this former Portuguese colonial archipelago, situated a few hundred miles due Wet of the Senegalese coast.

Upon first learning that I would have to compose something on Cape Verde, I’ll admit to some fleeting excitement at the prospect of discussing how two jumbo jets collided on a runway, killing 583 people all because a Dumbass Dutchmen couldn’t get the basics of taxing straight. The only problem with ruminating on that carnage is that….well..I looked it up that actually happened on the CANARY ISLANDS, some thousands of kilometers north. Oops.

So –sadly-- no carnage then, but at least we have an intriguing football team to discuss. The Blue Sharks shocked the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon (whose glory days now appear officially over) to qualify for their first-ever notable international tournament. CS Maritimo forward Heldon Nhuck capped a magnificent qualifying round with a scorcher of an away goal right in front of a demoralized crowd at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo. Nhuck headlines a balanced team filled with names immediately recognizable to followers of the Portuguese Primeira and France’s Ligue Une. The preponderance of European first stringers proves enough to give these Creoles the highest FIFA ranking of those in Group A.

Ahem…syndicate regulars may correctly deduce what comes next. FUCK THE FIFA Rankings!! Utterly useless! Fit for wrapping kitty litter and nothing more. I personally don’t see the sharks swimming out of the group.

THE LINE: Tunisia + 2 Goals

Gambia vs. Tanzania


I love and cherish my “Taifa Stars” jersey. I’ll even wear it on Saturday as my team gets crushed.

THE LINE: Gambia + 2 Goals

Cote d’Ivoire vs. Morocco


Just because they’ve already qualified for the next round, don’t expect “Les Elephants” to lie down. Time to take out the “Lions of the Atlas”, and their complacent king too.

THE LINE: Cote d’Ivoire +1 Goal

Burkina Faso vs. Gabon


May Omar Bongo forever rot in hell…I do believe that’s all I have to say here.

THE LINE: Burkina Faso +1 Goal

Niger vs. Congo NDR


“Congo NDR” stands for “non-democratic-Republic”. This isn’t to suggest that the Republic of the Congo is, in fact, “non-democratic”. In fact, the former “French Congo” (Congo NDR) is far more democratic than the former “Belgian Congo” (Zaire/Congo DR). Nguesso may lack legitimate competition, but his state remains a multi-party democracy. This is in stark contrast to Kabila’s “Congo DR”. Though he should be rightly credited with winding down the civil war, the incursions of Hutu nationalists into his territory and the current M-23 rebellion shouldn’t be written off so easily.  

After a lackluster African Cup of Nations, we shouldn’t expect too much out of Niger here. Since both teams are eliminated, however, we’ll go ahead and call it a pick.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Kenya vs. Namibia


Hard to know what to make of this one too. I’ll go ahead and congratulate Kenyatta and Ruto…but only for now. Insofar as I’m concerned, they’re still both suspected war criminals. Innocent until proven guilty, but suspicion lingers.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Nigeria vs. Malawi


You MUST come through, “Super Eagles”!! It won’t be the same without you!!

THE LINE: Nigeria + 2 Goals

Zimbabwe vs. Mozambique


Mugabe at least assured the whiteys that no one would ever again confuse “Zimbabwe” with “Mozambique”. What a sad day for us all ; ( ;( We all watched with horror as the once-upon-a-time populist who freed the people of the former Rhodesia stole another damn election. : (

I have no evidence to back that up, by the way. International observers weren’t allowed in, but O.A.U. and A.U. monitors insist that the election was clean. It’s entirely possible that the Zimbabweans lawfully and properly restored Mugabe to full power….just as the Americans lawfully and properly gave Bush a second term.

After the turbulent election of four years ago, the Supermarket Shelves have remained fully stocked. Sometimes that’s all people need to stick with their leadership. The man with the pencil-thin Hitler mustache continues to patronize his civil workers with regular pay raises and continues to re-possess white farms. That might have been enough.

I still consider him a madman. Boasting about “Throwing out the garbage”? Fuck that. The man deserves to die Quadaffi-style.

THE LINE: Pick em’


Sudan vs. Lesotho


Lesotho is actually a really cool place. It’s nestled in a valley of the Drakensberg Mountains. Its elevation makes it the “Highest Kingdom on Earth”. Without reviving the “Valley Speech” from earlier, I’ll go ahead and call it an “Idyllic Enclave”.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a Mountain Kingdom? I bet you can earn EXP just by talking to the right villagers. : )

Omar al-Bashir must stand trial.

THE LINE: Sudan +3 Goals

Benin vs. Rwanda


Can’t bring myself to care. Both of these countries got fucked over by the French. Not as much as Togo, but still…

THE LINE: Pick em’

Cameroon vs. Libya


Two teams still in contention…you know who I’m rooting for.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Togo vs. Congo DR


Wish both of these squads were coming along…I’ll miss Adebayor, Gakpe, Amewou, Marnah, Mputu, Mbokani, Mulumbu, Bolasie, Issama, and Mongugo. Fare thee well.

THE LINE: Pick em’


Egypt vs. Guinea


Former U.S. Coach Bob Bradley has done a most amazing job with the Egyptians, even in these turbulent times. Before the revolutions that ousted Morsi and Mubarak, he had riots and a FIFA Suspension to deal with. Read up on his journey if you can find the time:

HE was always better than Jürgen.

THE LINE: Egypt +2 Goals

Algeria vs. Mali



It’s important that we got that in there. Adressing Keita’s election….well…it sucks. Nothing much more I can say about that. A member of the “Francophone Privilege Class” has been put in charge. Okay. It might help restore stability. Nevertheless, FUCK FRANCOPHONE AFRICANS!

It was important that we got that in there too. ; )

 THE LINE: Mali +2 Goals


From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengence”
“Oh wow! Things are really exciting in the Confederation of North-Central American and Caribbean Association Football…or let’s just say NAMBLA. J Hopefully the shameless Stewart reference enlightens you to the fact that I’m being sarcastic. Yawn. Things are as boring as ever in the most thoroughly threadbare FIFA division.”

Yes, it’s your turn, Yanks. Everyone can relax. Jürgen and Jozy have you off the hot seat. Things looked a little grim there for awhile, but was there ever seriously any doubt that the U.S. would qualify out of the world’s weakest region? Chill. You’ll be in Brazil next summer, just in time to lose to Ghana again ; )

CONCACAF Qualification mirrors that of Asia almost precisely. Higher ranked teams bypass two knockout rounds for lower placed teams. Two Group Stages follow. The latter “Group Stage”, in which we presently find ourselves, consists of only one group of six nations. The top three qualify while the fourth will go on to contest New Zealand in an inter-continental playoff. At the present the table looks……well…just like it always fucking looks! The U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica will almost certainly qualify, while either Panama or Honduras grabs the playoff spot. The Mexicans have been struggling mightily, but still have enough time to get it together.

No major upsets on the road to the Final Group Stage, but it’s worth noting that Cuba, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago botched decent chances of a qualification run.


Mexico vs. Honduras


Do you wish to mow the lawn or manicure the lawn? Dare to dream. One almost wishes that both of these countries could win.

THE LINE: Mexico +2 Goals

Costa Rica vs. USA


Okay, Yanks. Tough match ahead of you. If only you had someone more qualified than Jürgen Klinsmann at the helm.

To be fair, Jürgen has the boys riding high on TWELVE straight victories. Assuming he starts Jozey, Landon, and Clint up front he’ll make it Thirteen. It’s all finally coming together for Uncle Sam.

They’ll definitely be competitive in Brazil. Rejoice.


Panama vs. Jamaica


Quite a bit at stake here for Valdes and the “Red Tide”. All signs point to delivery.

THE LINE: Panama +1 Goal


Jamaica vs. Costa Rica


Jamaica made it to the group stages! They also managed to shed Christopher Coke. Well done, Lymans.

THE LINE: Costa Rica +2 Goals

USA vs. Mexico


Easy win. You might even boot the Mexicans straight out of the tournament. Matters will get a bit on the antagonistic side, but it’s still yours to lose.


Honduras vs. Panama


And the two sides trade victories. It will go down as such.

THE LINE: Honduras +1 Goal


Not too many countries down under on the “comma continent”. Hence, the Latin Americans do it all with one group. Nine teams contest (ordinarily ten, but Brazil qualifies as host). The top four clinch a World Cup Berth while the fifth place finisher squares off against the winner of the Uzbekistan vs. Jordan aggregate playoff in an intercontinental playoff.

Though the qualifying rounds last for two years, there are only 18 Matchdays and 72 matches. Each team plays each other only twice in a double Round Robin. Are we beginning to understand why scoring an own goal can get you killed?

This is definitely the most fucked up COMNEBOL Round I’ve ever seen. World Cup mainstays Paraguay have effectively been eliminated. 2010 World Cup semifinalists and traditional global football powerhouse Uruguay have had a disastrous campaign and may very well not make the cut. Ecuador, Chile, and Columbia are punching far above their weight. Even the Argentines aren’t exhibiting their usual sluggish underachieving. I suppose that’s what happens when one takes Brazil out of the mix.

One can speculate that Messi and the boys are almost certainly through. Ditto Columbia. No such certainly with respect to the remaining 2.5 spots. Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, and even Peru are very much alive.


Columbia vs. Ecuador


What the FARC? Who are these “Coffee Growers”? No seriously that’s their team’s nickname: “The Coffee Growers”. What the rail-snorting fuck sort of name is that for a football team? Couldn’t they at least have gone with “The Coffee Drinkers”?

Alright. We get it Columbia. You grow coffee too. Sometimes one can defeat the purpose, i.e. piss on one’s own feet. Are we supposed to forget about that other plant you grow simply because you titled your team “The Coffee Growers”? In point of fact, it only serves to remind us.

This team is yet to qualify under my watch, though I did write extensively on the women’s eleven back in 2011. They typically finish in sixth place, but everything’s upside down this time. With peaking strikers like Jackson Martinez of FC Porto and Radamel Falco of Monaco, they’ve won practically every match they were supposed to….save for one against Ecuador. That’s why we have a pick.

Er…Antonio Mockus 2015!!!

From WMQ 2009—“Syndicate with Avengence”

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Uribe actually ended up standing down in favor of his defense minister Juan Manuel dos Santos. Dos Santos easily demolished the very entertaining Green Party candidate Antonius Mockus in the June 2010 runoff. I personally found the result devastating, as Mockus was an accomplished Mathematician who relinquished his academic career in order to become a professional political satirist. After his eccentric musings caught the attention of the national media, he successfully waged a campaign to obtain the office of mayor of Bogotá.

The bearded chain-smoking city chief would report to work in sandals and shorts. He hired the San Francisco Mime Troop to make fun of traffic violators. He sponsored mandatory open-air festival holidays, shutting down the entire city and giving attendees free vouchers. He brought the concept of “Ladies Night” to the city, offering bars tax credits for in proportion to their drink specials. Of course he also extended potable drinking water, sewage, and electricity to the entire city. He drove down the homicide and traffic fatality rates by over half, but that’s not so amusing. In short, love him or hate him, you’d enjoy having a beer with a character like him. Sure, like any dirty hippie, he doesn’t truly understand Economics. Still, show me a politician from either the right or the left who actually does and I’ll buy you a beer.

THE LINE: Pick em’

Paraguay vs. Bolivia


I can’t even make a Fernando Lugo joke here. Those have long since been retired….for good reason. I received no fewer than five complaints from Syndicate Members who had no idea who Fernando Lugo was….and that I was a pompous esoteric priest.

Let’s settle this once and for all: Fernando Lugo was President of Paraguay from 2008 to 2012. Prior to pursuing a career he was a Roman Catholic Priest…who allegedly fathered some illegitimate children whilst doing God’s work. A humble leftist, he had many admirers (including me). I just simply couldn’t resist typing in “Fernando Lugo’s Lust for Life” back in one of the 2009 Syndicates. It snowballed from there and everyone thought I was attempting to cordon off the Syndicate with a secret handshake. Okay. Everyone satisfied?

I was never some haughty asshole hoping to brandish my knowledge in your face to make you feel stupid. There were simply times in my life (okay, unemployed times) during which all I did was read…all day…every day. Man do I ever miss those days ; ) If you still think me a pretentious and smug “know-it-all”, take comfort in the fact that I have a full time job now….and I might as well be dead ; ( ; ( ; ( ; (

Moving right along, What the hell happened to La Albiroja? They’ve dropped five matches. Roque Santa Cruz just isn’t producing on the international level. He’s at that age. Young guns Antonio Sanabria, Brian Montenegro, and Angel Romero aren’t ready yet. Nee head coach Victor Genes is pulsing out all the stops, including calling up those three untested players for this crucial match.

Mercifully, they now face a soft opponent. The Road back begins here and this bookie is prepared to invest some faith.

It faint quite an “UPSET ALERT”, but it’s certainly an unconventional line.

THE LINE: Paraguay +2 Goals

Chile vs. Venezuela


I don’t want to read about Nicolas Maduro anymore. I’ve got the general gist. He’s a wannabe autocrat with a moustache. Plenty of those out there. Until I see convincing evidence to the contrary, he won the election legitimately. Let the man rant in peace.

Likewise, I’m not interested in Pinera’s minor infractions. The guy is practically “Blomberg-esque” for renouncing his party. Both of these cats are at least moderately sincere public servants. That’s more than one can say for most of our jokers. I don’t believe the concept “service” ever crossed their mind. 

THE LINE: Pick em’

Peru vs. Uruguay


It’s not looking like I’ll be able to write this section without mentioning Jose Mujica’s controversial experiment of Full Marijuana legalization. Look, people. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I haven’t toked up in years. The prospect of doing so again doesn’t even remotely interest me.

What I do know is that Mujica is an impressive public servant. Yes, we’re going there. Above you’ll find measured admiration for Pinera and Maduro. Admiration for Mujica isn’t anywhere close to measured. It’s unabashed. The man lives in a fucking shack! He sits in his shack all day, thinking about ways to improve the lives of his citizens.

Latin Americans have a great deal to teach us…at this particular moment in history. After the yoke of colonialism was discarded, faux constitutions, corruption and ruthless dictators dominated for hundreds of years. It happens. They sheltered Nazi War Criminals. That too happens. Following that, American interference precluded the rise of a socially aware political class (Allende and Guevara). Even after that, the initial uninterrupted rise of Socialist leaders was fairly disappointing. (Chavez, Evo, Lula, Kirchners, etc) Now they’re working overtime to catch up. Someone like Mujica inspires a great deal of hope.

We’ll never see such a thoughtful leader in the American media landscape. Even if their intentions are as pure as a teetotalling Virgin Princess, constant scrutiny won’t allow them to implement any of it. A good leader flowers as rarely as good grapes. The best wine comes from obscure forgotten corners of the world. Why not the best leaders?

Latin America’s rises with a message of humility and hard work. Even “Pope Frank” continues to impress. Watch out world.    

La Celeste will win this one….but that doesn’t rescue their qualifying hopes.

THE LINE: Uruguay +2 Goals


Bolivia vs. Ecuador


La Tri are coming back to join us for the first time since 2006! Looking forward to it already.

THE LINE: Ecuador +2 Goals

Uruguay vs. Columbia


Tough match for Tabarez & Co. Still appears probable that they’ll make it happen. Either Forlan (the good one) or Suarez (Satan incarnate) should be able to manage a winning goal.

THE LINE: Uruguay +1 Goal

Venezuela vs. Peru


Don’t bet against God. Arango will make Francis proud.

THE LINE: Venezuela +1 Goal


No matches scheduled. New Zealand awaits the fourth place finisher from CONCACAF

And on that happy note…