The World Cup Alphabet – O is for…


Image result for Gustavo Berocan Veiga World Cup Alphabet




Every World Cup seems to cough up a player not well known, a bit rough around the edges and plays the tournament of his life. This in turn results in large clubs falling over themselves to sign said player realising by Christmas they have purchased a dud.


A few examples of recent times were snake oil salesman footballers of the highest order. In 1994 Oleg Salenko was a 25 year old striker who wasn’t bad but wasn’t brilliant meandering his way through Zenit Leningrad (now Zenit St Petersburg) and Dynamo Kiev. Playing for Spanish battler Logrones he was picked for the first Russian team in the World Cup. A side now no longer the powerful USSR beasts since the first competition.


He started Russia’s second game and scored a penalty but it was the last group game that was the one. Against a Cameroonian side bereft of anything positive and with Russia also already out he scored an amazing five goals, a record for one match. He also tied with the Golden Boot. The game was a dead rubber but this didn’t stop clubs thinking he was the next big thing. Valencia won the race and he was on his way to very a decent club. in one season he only scored 10 times and was let go.


The big spending (at the time) Glasgow Rangers came in thinking they could channel his inner striker. They didn’t and he scored only seven goals. From here he bounced from club to club going on reputation alone and was done by 31. Funnily enough he’s now the head of beach soccer in the Ukraine. Stephene Guivarch was a team player for France in their 1998 triumph. An immovable object as a striker, he had been a decent striker in France winning a league and cup double with Auxerre. In the World Cup he started every game and failed to score in one.


This didn’t stop Newcastle United splashing the cash on the 28 year old after the World Cup. Guivarch managed to play four times and only scored one goal which was in a 4-1 hammering by Liverpool. Newcastle saw that they had made a big mistake and offloaded him after only three months to, of course, Glasgow Rangers. In Scotland he again struggled scoring only five goals in 14 games before going back to the warm embrace of France.


When Senegal shocked the World in 2002 many remember the firebrand El Hadji Diouf. The striker was at Lens before the tournament and then Liverpool after it with the hype as big as his transfer fee. After a bright start he failed to score for some seven months. After he broke his goal drought he spat on a Celtic fan in a UEFA Cup match which saw him interviewed by police. With his Liverpool career now done he bounced around smaller English clubs making a scratch before, of course, he ended up at Glasgow Rangers.


Image result for Scott Brown El Hadji Diouf

A traditional welcome to Glasgow welcome by Celtic captain Scott Brown for El Hadji Diouf.




Opening matches in a World Cup are always highly rating. People champing at the bit for the tournament to start, a rock eisteddfod kind of opening ceremony and a chance for the host nation to kick it all off. Up until recent times they’ve been just..awful.


England kicked off their event in 1966 with a 0-0 draw with Uruguay which had the press and country as a whole on their back. Mexico kicked off their tournament in 1970 against the USSR with a 0-0 draw. 1974 saw a goal but only one when West Germany beat Chile 1-0 but that game was a nonsense. Normal service resumed in 1978 with a 0-0 draw between West Germany in Poland.


FIFA decided to change things up and have the champs kick it off in 1982. Again it was an awful game as Belgium beat the Argies 1-0. Two goals were scored in 1986 to open it up which was nice, a 1-1 draw between Italy and Bulgaria. In 1990 it was a change that it was a massive upset with Cameroon knocking off Argentina and managed to cop two red cards for snapping two Argies players in two.


1994 saw West Germany defeat Bolivia but it’s more memorable for Diana Ross’ amazing penalty miss in the pre game entertainment more than the game itself. Finally, in 1998, we had a decent game. Defending champs Brazil had Scotland and the Scots took it up to them losing 2-1 because of a late own goal. In 2002 saw another amazing upset by an African side when Senegal knocked off France. The celebration as memorable as the upset.



In 2006 FIFA decided to switch it back to the hosts opening proceedings which was the right and logical thing to do. Germany’s game against Costa Rica to open 2006 was an amazing match with the hosts winning 4-2 after being pegged back twice by the Central Americans. In 2010 South Africa wanted to show to the world what they were about and did with an amazing goal with that boy band celebration I’ve talked about earlier in this series.


Brazil rushed to get everything ready for their opener against Croatia. In Sao Paolo the ground had some make shift stands to get things ready. Health and Safety? Nah. Croatia crashed the party taking an early lead before Brazil overpowered the plucky Europeans which included a controversial penalty and offside decision that stunk of FIFA involvement just a little bit.


It seems the 0-0 curse is broken but the opening game this time is so uninspiring the curse may well return. Russia play Saudi Arabia, two of the worst teams in the tournament but both being bad may mean there’ll be heaps of a goals. no?




The casual observer of the sport always comes around at World Cup time and one of the questions is always ‘how does offside work’. Not going to explain to save on the word count, just going to leave this video here. It’s done by an American so he may well be just as bewildered as you are.




About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.


  1. G’day Dennis, Loving these. Lots of reminders – of a life spent in front of the TV (time zone was favourable). Loved that opener. I recall many upsets during that World Cup. And the bookies just refused to go beyond prejudice around the favourites. Those motivated by shorter term formline considerations received juicy odds – for profit (however temporary). JTH

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    Thanks JTH with the likes of Italy etc out its ripe for some betting, especially on a lesser team going really deep like 2002. Uruguay has a very easy group .

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