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Kerrymen at the Copacabana -- Ireland are surely the best-supported nation not at this World Cup

With not a single green-clad team left in Brazil, Mikey Stafford gives you the pros and cons of rowing in behind each of the final four.

Mikey Stafford reports from Rio de Janeiro

YOU WOULD EXPECT the numbers to thin out as the tournament progresses to the business end but the Irish are still about.

There was the man in a UCC GAA jersey on the metro bound for the Maracana, looking for two tickets for the Germany-France quarter-final. You sort of wish for his own sake he was unsuccessful.

Later that night we saw a Kerry man sauntering down Copacabana in his county colours, which just happen to be the same green as gold as the host country. Five World Cups versus 36 All-Irelands, he might have been asking himself from where do they get this sense of entitlement.

You wonder at the Irish presence late on in the tournament, but then, we had no business being here at any stage and yet we seemingly travelled in force. Speaking to fans of competing nations they were all amazed at the amount of Irish they had met on their travels.

Anecdotally we have ascertained that Ireland are the best-supported team not to qualify for Brazil 2014. There was my friend Lorcan, who was dragging his new but already long-suffering wife Naoise to an admittedly brilliant line-up of games.

coybig Cormac O'Keeffe, Mark Russell, Lorcan Kavanagh representing. Source: Mikey Stafford.

Football must have grown on her after watching Spain-Netherlands, Germany-Portugal, Italy-Costa Rica, Italy-Uruguay and Netherlands-Mexico, you would think.

Among countless others there were the Cork pair of Cormac and Mark, who were also in Salvador to witness Spain’s dismantling at the hands of the Netherlands.

The Dutch were clearly spurred on by their frequent meetings with the Corkonians, who had their picture taken with Louis Van Gaal, his assistant Patrick Kluivert and Pierre Van Hooijdonk.

So, Cormac and Mark are more than likely in the Oranje corner for the semi-finals, but who should the Irish in Brazil be rooting for? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the four remaining teams.


Reasons to root for: They’ve been wonderful, accommodating, welcoming hosts and as long as the Seleção are in the running, this party will carry on into a second month.

See also; the fact their cantankerous coach dresses like a retired primary school principal on the sideline and tells his critics to “go to hell” in press conferences. David Luiz’s hair, Willian’s hair and Marcelo’s hair.

Brazil Soccer WCup Brazil Colombia 'Of course you're crying, James. You're hair will never be as vibrant and wonderful as ours.' Source: Themba Hadebe

Reasons to root against: The weeping before and after the second round penalty shootout win over  Chile in the second round, plus the players’ reaction to news of Neymar’s injury, suggests the pressure is beginning to tell — maybe elimination and a nice beach holiday is what’s required. Their kick and chase (the opponents) tactics are not winning many friends. Fred’s moustache.

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Brazil Soccer WCup Not Fred, but just as good. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Do say: “Let’s dedicate this win to Neymar, our modern day Sun God!”

Don’t say: “Congratulations on your sixth World Cup, it only cost ye €3 billion!”


Reasons to root for: The only way that 6-1 defeat at the Aviva is going to look any better is with the addition of the words “eventual World Champions” in front of Germany’s name.

Marco Reus celebrates scoring the first goal as Keiren Westwood and Stephen Ward kneel in dejection Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

See also; the prospect of 36-year-old Miroslav Klose scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final to take the goal-scoring record outright from Ronaldo is delicious. Joachim Low’s hair.

Reasons to root against: Our European overlords have already won the battle on the markets and in the European Union, do they really need to prove their superiority on the field of play too? Mario Götze’s abject performances thus far are not deserving of a World Cup medal. Bayern Munich have had a dominant enough few years, they don’t need to add two-thirds of the World Cup trophy to their bulging cabinet.

Do say: “Finally, those interminable 18 years without a major football trophy are at an end!”

Don’t say: “Good work breaking the record Miroslav. Four more years! Four more years!”

The Netherlands

Reasons to root for: Arguably they have played the most consistent football of any team and they are the only one of the four semi-finalists never to have won the World Cup, despite three final appearances.

See also; great jersey, great fans and great coach. Arjen Robben in full flight (running) is a sight to behold. Wesley Sneijder’s two-fingered salute to TV cameras yesterday was pretty funny.

Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Costa Rica Source: Hassan Ammar

Reasons to root against: With Louis Van Gaal Old Trafford-bound you know Manchester United fans will somehow jump on the bandwagon. Arjen Robben in full flight (airborne) is a sight to behold.

Do say: “If Louis Van Gaal had been the coach in Top Gun, Goose would still be alive.”

Don’t say: “Arjen, are you alright? We were really worried about you, what with all the screaming.”


Reasons to root for: The pressure has been on Lionel Messi to deliver at a World Cup and somehow emulate Diego Maradona — he is two games from repeating the great man’s feat at Mexico 1986 and almost single-handedly winning a World Cup.

See also; the jersey. And Alejandro Sabella’s Del Boyesque pratfall.

Reasons to root against: The tactic of “give the ball to the best player and see what he can do” can win you Under-12 county leagues, it should not win a World Cup. Javier Mascherano’s incessant shooting from distance is becoming irritating — three goals in 103 matches, stop it.

Brazil Soccer WCup Argentina Belgium Source: Thanassis Stavrakis

Do say: “Take it home to Barcelona with you, Leo. You’ve earned it.”

Don’t say: “Have a pop, Javier!”

Brazil must forget the golden boy and place fate in the hands of Big Phil

About the author:

Mikey Stafford

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