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Choosing a side? It’s all in the name

There are 32 countries competing in the World Cup, but there are more than 250 countries in the world.

There are 32 countries competing in the World Cup, but there are more than 250 countries in the world. That means millions of people will have to figure out another way to choose their team.

For many Canadians, it’s easy to adopt another nation for the next 30 days because of our diverse heritage. Some may have parents that came from England, or immigrated from Nigeria, while others will root for Argentina because of the brilliant Lionel Messi. For those of us still undecided, why not look to the team’s nicknames for inspiration?

The nicknames for all the World Cup participants can be split into four groups: Colours; animals; historical/national roots; and boring. The latter category will be ignored for obvious reasons.

Most of the colour-based nicknames are pretty lame, but a few stand out. The top of the crop in this category are Mexico (El Tri — the three-coloured), Netherlands (Oranje) and Italy (Azzurri — azure blue). The worst, for politically correct reasons, has to be New Zealand (All Whites).

Historical/National Roots:
There’s a real mixed bag here. Japan (Samurai Blue) and South Korea (Taeguk Warriors) represent Asia well. The U.S., which goes by either The Yanks or The Stars and Stripes, disappoints with a lack of creativity. Denmark (Olsen’s Eleven) and Honduras (Los Catrachos) are worthy of further investigation.

This is where the good stuff is and the host continent Africa really shines. Algeria (Desert Foxes), Cote d’Ivoire (Elephants), Nigeria (Super Eagles) are all solid contenders, but Cameroon (Indomitable Lions) stands out. A match between it and England (The Three Lions) would be fun. The other interesting teams in this category are Australia (Socceroos) and Serbia (White Eagles).

I’m going to go with Spain (La Furia Roja — The Red Fury), which just rolls off the tongue. Plus my last name is Spanish — even if I’m only 1/16 Spanish myself — and it never hurts to back a contender.

In case you are wondering, Canada’s most used nickname is Les Rouges (The Reds).

Perhaps if we came up with a better nickname we could inspire our troops to qualify for the next World Cup.

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