Sunday, May 31, 2015

FWM 2015--Group C Preview

Introduction—“Abenomics 102”

FWM 2015
(Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador)


The staying power of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ultimately forced us to retire a proud Syndicate Tradition every bit as reliable as the advent of Summer itself.

The turbulent six years following the Junichiro Koizumi Era featured six separate Japanese Prime Ministers, all of whom ironically tendered their resignations during our “Syndicate Season”.

Macroeconomics research being something of a specialty of your friendly bookie’s, he always invariantly landed a writing contract on Japan’s ongoing deflation problems.  For a bizarre six consecutive summers, he found himself once delving into the topic of why the latest Prime Minister couldn’t get the BOJ to adopt progressive interest rate policies. 

All Shadow Scholars utilize working templates, but an annual return to the SAME EXACT theoretical statement demolished the definition of “absolutely fucking ridiculous”. I’m aware that no one cares to listen to me when I get wrapped up in one of erudite rant, but imagine re-using the SAME sentence over the course of SIX straight Summers:

“[Insert name of Japanese Prime Minister] proved unable to convince the B.O.J. to raise interest rates in the interest of meeting the two percent inflation target.”

Insane! Frustration boiled over in 2013, when I introduced the concept of a meditative chant set to the dulcet tones of pan flute:

Abe, Fukoda, Aso, Hatoyama, Kan….Abe.

Abe, Fukoda, Aso, Hatoyama, Kan….Abe.



That concludes the rant. ; ) Football only from this point forward. Promise. ; ) 

Some seriously heavy talk about Japanese politics introduces a group that the defending World Champions should have zero difficulty breezing through. The Swiss pose an extremely minor threat with a kader full of Women’s Bundesliga players.

The Japs eke out a slight advantage on that front too. They feature four Bundesliga stars of their own. Cameroon and Ecuador fall into the category of squads that will make for an interesting story without actually getting anywhere. “Sasaki’s Seraphs” will have no problem throwing down the gauntlet here. 

Japan—“The Nadeshiko”

Calm down, Yank Supporters. I know it still smarts a bit after four long years. Your friendly won’t even attempt to deny his role in your heartbreak. After the Pink Dots eliminated his cherished Krauts, he immediately began to hype up the American women, essentially promising that they would capture their Third Star.

Twasn’t to be. The Asian Eleven, or the “epitome of idealized pure feminine beauty as the translation of their nickname holds, bested the heavily favored Americans in a thrilling match that featured two dramatic leveling tallies and an agonizingly painful shootout.

Ultimately we all have to get over it. What transpired in Berlin on that fine summer’s eve did so much to buttress interest in Women’s Football around the globe that the sport’s visibility reaped infinite rewards.  The game needed its first Asian Champion. It was simply time for some novel faces to shake the cup and dance upon the podium.  July 17th 2011 was a good day for rabid football fans. Period.

Thanks to the meticulous nature of my retroactive notes, anyone wishing to re-live the events of that day in painstaking detail may due so at their leisure:

Head coach Norio Sasaki hasn’t been especially bold in his lineup selection. He’s stuck with all the familiar names, even as their age leaves them slower and duller. Aya Miyama, Shinobu Ohno, and Kozue Ando all return after having passed their 30th birthday. There aren’t any truly noteworthy new faces to discuss on a team stocked with 100+ Cap Veterans.

Given the deficiency of the Nadeshiko to compete with other teams aerially, a speed disadvantage might eventually do this team in. It’s doubtful that they can repeat in a longer tournament that will place still more brutal physical demands on their aging players.

….or perhaps your friendly bookie’s lineup projection is completely wrong. My prognostication holds that Sasaki’s proclivities towards the veterans will lead him to deploy his two older strikers in a simple 4-4-2. Should he instead place all of his faith in young phenom Mana Iwabuchi, the Japs may very well catch a few defensive lines napping in the latter stages of the tournament.

For now I foresee them tiring themselves out in the initial three group games and exiting early against the Group D challenger during the Round of 16.

Disagree. Feel free to take advantage of some very generous odds.

 Projecting the Japanese Lineup (4-4-2) 

             Shinobu Ohno Yuki Ogimi
     Aya Miama                  Nahomi Kawasumi                
                        Homare Sawa
                         Kozue Ando
A. Sameshima S. Kumagai A. Iwashimizu Y. Kinga
                        Ayuhi Kaihori

 The Talisman—Homare Sawa 

Sasaki is left with little choice but to start a 36-year-old forward as his “midfield general”. Her pace and distribution will determine whether this squad can generate anything out of their possession. Can Sawa still command respect with her touch and tricks? Excellent question.

Your Friendly bookie doesn’t know a great deal about female football physiology. All he knows is that 36-year old male “midfield general” wouldn’t work. It would be comparable to moving Steven Gerrard into the sweeper-spot. Reserving all judgment, it will prove fascinating to watch how she performs.

 Who’s That Japanese Girl? 

1) Yuri Kawamura is unlikely to get much playing time, so you might as well take a look at her now.


2) Aya Sameshima isn’t half bad either

3) All of you know how I feel about Homare Sawa. Don’t talk smack on my girl!!


4) Poor Kozue Ando has the misfortune of playing for FFC Frankfurt…but she’ll gain promotion to a better club soon.

Kozue Ando

5) Nahori Kawasumi will soon be playing in the revamped U.S. Women’s League. Watch! It’ll be fun!

Nahomi Kawasumi joins Seattle Reign FC 

6) Asuna Tanaka falls into the “irresistibly cute” category.

7) Stare into eternity with Rumi Utsugi

宇津木 瑠美 / UTSUGI Rumi 

8) Get your love of symmetry on with Agasano Nagasato. She’s a rising star lighting it up with my team, Turbine Potsdam!

Turbine Potsdam im Pokal-Finale: 2:1 beim FFC Frankfurt. Asano Nagasato

9) Adorable as ever, Mana Iwabuchi is another one of those gals who even looks great in an FC Bayern jersey.

Switzerland—“La Nati Bitches”

Shirt badge/Association crestOh the goddamned Swiss. How your friendly bookie hates them. ; ) He hates their profoundly irritating dialectical butchering of the German language. It makes his ears bleed. ; (

He hates their rejection of European Unity, their racist treatment of diasporic populations, their immoral tax shelters, and just about every movie starring Bruno Ganz ; )

He even hates ricola cough drops! Every time the Swiss pop up in one of these tournaments he sounds the alpine horn and welcomes his dreaded southern neighbors in the following fashion:

We go BLAH!

(alpine horn)

We go BLAH!

Okay. With that obligatory part of the write-up out of the way, I’ll let you in on a little secret: My ribbing of the Swiss (and the French for that matter) amounts to little more than good-natured neighborly jiving. My home in Southwest Germany sits just a few kilometers from the Swiss and French borders. I actually like flitting over to Strasbourg or down to Basel for a little getaway….and Bruno Ganz isn’t a bad actor after all. “Vitus” remains one of my favorite films.

It’s actually been great fun drawing up a lineup for these 23 girls I had previously never heard of. Combing back through the qualifying stages, it would certainly appear that they’ve earned their place. It looks as if they play a straight-up 4-2-3-1 that emphasizes lateral play in support of this obscenely talented center forward named Ramona Bachmann.

In principle this means we can look forward to some attractive football with plenty of fine switches, crosses, and give-and-goes. A pair of presumably technically-minded midfielders feeds Bachmann: Martina Moser of TSG Hoffenheim Ladies and Lia Wälti of Turbine Potsdam. Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic either serves as the “Six-spot-sweeper” or the “super sub”. I’m really not sure.

Either way it piques my intrigue. This hastily scribbled stack of scratch paper lying on my desk means nothing until we see them in action. Looking forward to it ; )

 Projecting the Swiss Lineup (4-3-2-1) 

                   Ramona Bachmann
        Martina Moser           Lia Wälti            
                       Vanessa Bürki
   Lara Dickenmann Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic     
S. Betschart N. Redmund C. Abbe D. Schwarz
                    Gaëlle Thalmann

 The Talisman—Ramona Bachmann 

She’s apparently a wizard when it comes first-touch and volleying finishing. The 24-year-old talent has already amassed just about all of the wards and accolades that a female footballer can hope for. It took me forever to remember why her name rang a faint bell. She was once the number one draft pick in the now defunct WPS. (The American Women’s Professional Soccer League that I genuinely miss watching).

Injuries put an end to her once-heralded tenure, but she returned to Sweden to dazzle everyone and light up scoreboards regularly. At present she’s scored 33 goals in 61 Caps for her country. Keep an eye on this one. She’s just getting started.

 Who’s That Swiss Miss Bitch? 

1) One can scarcely believe that Sandra Betschart is approaching 27.

Sandra Betschart  

2) Rachael Rinast just does "her" thing.


3) The folks over at VfL Wolfsburg want you to meet Noëlle Maritz. Say hello to the “Girl Next Door”! I need to buy a farm ; ( ; (

4) Lara Dickenmann isn’t afraid to rock a semi-shaved hairdo.

Lara Dickenmann 

5) Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic desperately needs a man to marry her so that she may attain an easier to spell last name!

2011-08 Ana-Maria Crnogorčević.JPG 

6) Eseosa Aigbogun figured out how to be sexy while simultaneously eating porridge. Interesting trick. 

Cameroon—“The Indomitable Lady Lions”

Shirt badge/Association crestCameroonian football fans desperately grapple for a piece of good news. After that embarrassing implosion during the 2014 World Cup—they finished dead last in the event you don’t recall—they narrowly avoided being labeled the absolute worst team in the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

Your friendly bookie grows tired of writing negative news about this country’s national team. It’s gotten to the point where I’m starting to believe that Cameroonians are really the Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor.

That last referenced escaped EVERYONE didn’t it? Sorry, but your friendly must sneak in at least one Douglas Adams reference into every Syndicate. Feel free to take a look back over 13 years and 2000+ pages. There’s several in each chapter. ; ) Treat yourself to a taste of the his unrivaled genius with the opening passage of “Mostly Harmless”:

“The history of the Galaxy has got a little muddled, for a
number of reasons: partly because those who are trying to keep

track of it have got a little muddled, but also because some very
muddling things have been happening anyway.

One of the problems has to do with the speed of light and
the difficulties involved in trying to exceed it. You can't. Nothing
travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception
of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were
powered by bad news but they didn't work particularly well and
were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere
that there wasn't really any point in being there.”

When it comes to the Indomitable Lions, it’s nothing more than bad news on top of bad news. The demise of Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song. The string of mediocre German coaches who can never seem to get this country back on track.

Eric Chupo-Moting’s continued underachieving. It just constantly rains shit upon these poor people who love football arguably more than any other West African population. Why? What’s a friendly bookie to do?

I have more bad news. This team can barely hope to make it out of the group. In spite of some internationally known names like Francine Zouga, Gaelle Enganamouit, and Annette Ngo Ndom, there simply isn’t enough offensive pop on this side.  

One cannot see where the goals will come from. The defensive corps, by contrast, has developed a reputation for beings very well-disciplined and miserly. They should be able to give players in the attacking third a fighting chance. Everything hinges on the Talisman taking advantage of tight scorelines. We’ll see. 

 Projecting the Cameroonian Lineup (4-3-3) 

          Gaëlle Enganamouit     Jeanette Yango
                            Francine Zouga
Henriette Akaba Ajara Nchout Madeleine Ngono
     Yvonne Leuko                   Cathy Bou Ndjouh
         Augustine Ejangue Claudine Meffometou
                        Annette Ngo Ndom

 The Talisman—Madeleine Ngono Mani 

Cameroon Women's Official Olympic Football Team PortraitsLike many Cameroonian professionals, Ngono has spent her entire career in France. She’s tallied 45 times for three separate clubs. Considered by some to be at the peak of her abilities, the Lionesses need Mani to really hit her creative stride in some tough fixtures.

I can’t really say in which position she’ll start, but I will conjecture that if she makes her presence known early in the opening match against Ecuador, you can pitch all of my dire predictions. The Lady Lions need to make a statement early. It won’t take much to rile up this Africa-obsessed bookie. ; ) Show me a little something, Madeline. ; )

Who’s That Lady Lion?

Plenty of pretty girls in this photograph:

 Cameroon matches schedule for FIFA women's world cup 2015.

Your friendly bookie stands ready to get his Black Fetish on ; ) Prepare for the next chapter in the “Storia della Belleza Saga”. Black really is beautiful. I just need to see these hotties perform on the pitch first.

Ecuador—“La Tricolor Tootsies”
Shirt badge/Association crest
Is it true, Vicey? Does the Ecuadorian Football Federation officially mandate its trainer to play a very specific 4-4-2? Is it an Urban Legend or a Hard Fact? A fair question; one that still cannot be conclusively answered. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that La Tri are compelled by SOMEONE to stick with a rigid gameplan.

Without exception, the national team’s lineup always features a big target forward and an anchoring speedster. Your friendly bookie first encountered the rumor whilst preparing for the 2014 World Cup. It made perfect sense. Feleipe Caicedo was to be the Target Man. Enner Valencia was to be the piston. Reinaldo Rueda had clearly been giving specific instructions.

Nevertheless, it all amounts to a “crackpot conspiracy” doesn’t it? How can a National Football Federation get away with such a level of interference? It can’t possibly be true, brothers. It CAN’T! You can’t convince me that some sort of bureaucratic directive governs both the formation and the plan-of-attack. I don’t believe in such perfidious collusion, if only because it would require an impossible level of coordination of which human beings have zero chance of attaining.

We can still have our fun with the theory, though ; ) Let’s assume that some ultra-rich Ecuadorian Board Member insists upon a 4-4-2 with a lead striker exceeding six feet and an anchoring striker five inches shorter with a proscribed 100-yard-dash time. How will it be structured this go-around?

Either Ambar Torres or Monica Quinteros will be instructed to remain a few steps ahead. Either Erika Vasquez or Mayra Olivera works the triangulation route.

Hmmmmmm….puzzling evidence.

“Puzzlin’ Evidence” I tell you!

What is the link? What do cars have to do with books you might ask? Do you feel it? Don’t you run out of Kleenex, toilet paper, and paper towels all at the same time!?!? You know it’s true!!



 Projecting the Ecuadorian Lineup (4-2-3-1) 

                        Ámbar Torres
                      Mónica Quinteros     
Erika Vásquez                          Mayra Olivera
 Ana Palacios                           Kerly Real    
K. Ortíz I. Rodríguez L. Moreira M. Zambrano
                         Shirley Berruz

 The Talisman—Erika Vasquez 

Now that I’ve finished watching that clip from the Talking Heads Movie a full 125 times, I’ll tell you a bit about Erika Vasquez. She’s logged over 30 caps for her country before she turned 22. She’s proven herself to be a clutch performer with three crucial goals for the national side.

In my lineup projection, she’ll occupy a critical space on the left flank. La Tri need to be able to exploit that space if they wish to maintain any hopes of advancing. Let the games begin. Show me what you’ve got, girl.

 Who’s That Ecuadorian Girl? 

We confront one of those teams entirely comprised of domestic league players. It isn’t as if there’s no information about some of these players available, it’s just that this bookie needs to see more. Next Monday can’t come soon enough.

Here’s your team picture:

 The team of Ecuador pose before an American Cup football match in Ecuador, September 2014 (Photo: Giovanny González)

Vicey’s Fearless Group Prediction (2 to 1 Odds for bookie)

1) Japan 
2) Switzerland 
3) Ecuador 
4) Cameroon 

Overall Championship Odds

 Japan (3 to 1)
   Switzerland  (6 to 1)
 Ecuador (10 to 1)
 Cameroon (19 to 1)

Round of 16 Odds

 Japan (Straight Up)
   Switzerland (Straight Up)
 Ecuador (3 to 1)
 Cameroon (5 to 1)

Quarterfinal Odds

 Japan (Straight Up)
   Switzerland (2 to 1)
 Ecuador (4 to 1)
 Cameroon (7 to 1)

Semifinal Odds

 Japan (2 to 1)
  Switzerland (4 to 1)
 Ecuador (8 to 1)
 Cameroon (12 to 1)