The Fifa World Cup is underway and like many other nations, Pakistanis are enthusiastically watching matches, cheering for their favourite teams and organising football get togethers (GTs in urban elite lingo). Although we have come some way in embracing this sport from mere viewers to actual participants, both at home via domestic tourneys (Pakistan Premiere League), local city leagues to regional international matches like the SAFF Cup (South Asian Football Federation), we still have a long way to go before we can qualify for the main event. Currently, we rank at thirty-fifth among the teams in South Asia. Even so, the spirit and passion for this sport is growing and why wouldn’t it? Football is a poor man’s game and requires not much other than a football which we are adept at producing in the millions in Sialkot.
There seems to be a dearth of understanding as to what the world cup teams and their characteristics are about in Pakistan and so, I thought it would be pertinent to introduce them in reference to our cricketing gods so we know what the commentators on TV are always screaming about.
They are the Wasim Akram of the football world. This team has done it all and achieved it all. They have unmatched skill with the ball, they can dance well both, on and off the field and have fans all over the world, but they yet have to grace Indian reality shows.
They are the favourites each time they play and have a tendency to not being able to defend a lot of unexpected movement in the air, focusing only on attack.
Most similar to Shahid Afridi – they performed brilliantly in one world cup and were the champions back in 1966. Even though they have rabid fan base, acute media hype and coverage up the wazoo, they are unable to achieve much on the international stage. The team has also appeared in a number of endorsements in print and electronic media, much like Afridi.
3. North Korea
Like Shoaib Akhtar, the team is egotistical and is controlled by god knows whom. They are most secretive in holding closed practices and claim to have the ability to conjure miraculous feats while in actuality, achieving nothing. Not yet established in Bollywood but hoping to break into form at any given time for the last 10 years.
Closet Misbah Ul Haq behaviour – loaded with talent and skill having displayed it all throughout the league stages of any tournament but fail at the grandest stage. And yes Misbah, we still remember that paddle-scoop of disaster against India and we will make sure you do as well.
Muhammad Asif personified. Oodle’s of skill, an almost mesmerising ability to entertain when on song but most of the time, trip or fall on obstacles conjured in their own minds. Drug issues, check. Ego, check. Ability to be gods or walk off a cliff, check!
Can be compared to Younis Khan. A history of success, great presence on the roster but very divisive to its fans, you either love Italy or hate them, there is nothing in between. Also, like Khan, the team displays the same mood swings, temper and flair both on and off the field.
Umar Gul-like skill, but for them to be noticed on the world stage is the same – negligible. They try very hard, can cause plenty of upsets but whether they do or don’t, no one seems to give a damn.
Exactly like Imran Khan – strong team values, they attack as a unit, making a science out of the beautiful game, very strong mental attitude and dedication, almost clinical at times. Their only flaw is too much confidence which has lead to their own downfall. that and the Germans suck at politics too, think hitler…merkel…err
The jury is still out on Miandad, so if anyone thinks he explains a team do let me know :p as I am still having trouble understanding him..
As published in “The Dawn Blog” 17/6/2010