Monday, February 28, 2011

Get your hate on!

If you've ever wondered who the most hated people (not players - People!) in the WCP Cup are, wonder no more. The Team Canada Blog is having a vote on the subject. Never mind that most WCP participants don't hate anyone - they just want to have fun - this vote will decide once and for all who we should all despise.

The author of the blog (Dooley) enjoys calling people classy. He embodies classy because he knows that a vote on who hates who is the epitome of classy. It's so classy that I've made the list! And the best part is, the Canada blog now eerily resembles the Norway Blog, to the extent that most of the info on that blog was on the Norway blog first...... Classy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tainted Championship

It was about one year ago today when I remember feeling euphoric after Laos won the WCP Cup and ended ROI's two-year championship run. It felt like an underdog story, or the New York Yankees getting toppled by the little guy or something like that. The last thing I wanted was a three-peat champion and in my mind the game seemed like a perfect way for the Saskatoon-loaded Ireland to meet its end.

One year later I'm having second thoughts after really thinking about Laos, their roster and all of the advantages that team has compared to every other team in the tournament. The more I think about it, the more I think that Laos are actually the Yankees, with all the money, player-pickups, and rule violations that they enjoy.

The money? Oh yes, the money. The dirty little secret about the Teppanyaki sponsorship that Laos enjoys is that they really, really enjoy it. Free food? Of course. Lots of free food? Definitely. Making offers to key players so that they 100% sure know there's free food? Only natural. If it sounds like a college booster recruiting star players it's because that's essentially what it is. Throw in some free shoes, and other nice things for cash-strapped players and bingo, you've got a star-studded Laos roster.

Now, you could say that every team still has to follow the heritage rules..... Oh wait, that's the other dirty little secret that isn't actually a secret about Laos, isn't it? Everyone on every other team is certain there's no way Laos has enough heritage. You can look at the players and instinctively know, but there's nothing anyone can do about it, that's for the tournament organizers to enforce.

And that's where Adam Ailsby comes in - the Striker for Laos who also doubles as the tournament lawyer and guy most in charge of checking heritage. If it seems fishy it's because it's a blatant conflict of interest. Not in a legal sense, just in a purity of the sport and tournament sense. Couple that Ailsby is always trying to seem like he's on some kind of moral holy ground and it's enough to make you gag.

So going into the 2011 tournament, let's just say there's no way I want to see Laos prevail again. I can handle the momentary euphoria from 2010, but if that were to happen again I think it would make me nauseous. Hopefully, a fully rules compliant, non-rich underdog can win in 2011 - that would make for a suitable ending.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jamaica should be loaded

To state the obvious, Group D is going to be insanely competitive. Canada, Germany, and Jamaica are all upgrading talent from 2010 and Poland and Ukraine will be above-average good. I've already covered two players Canada is getting, I'll get to Germany soon, but for now I'm going to focus on Jamaica. From what I've heard, they're not losing anyone significant from the 2010 squad and they're bringing in at least a couple quality players - possibly more.

Kevin Holness should be returning. He says he needs to be back in shape, but from what I've watched his conditioning is more than what it needs to be to compete. I'm guessing its 95% that he'll play. Saskatoon's Mark Korthius should also be returning. He had to miss a couple games in 2010 but he's back on the roster for 2011. Regina's Garrett Peters should also be returning, provided he finishes exams at Trinity Western in time to make a difference.

Two major additions are supposedly the Prime brothers, Karmal and Amilcar, from Saskatoon. I've personally never played against either of them, but I've heard from numerous people that they're solid additions. The only other things I've heard are rumours of more former Canada Games players, but nothing definite and no actual names.

Norway vs Scotland exhibition

What I'm assuming will be Norway's final exhibtion game has been scheduled against Scotland. We're to face the underdogs of Group D on Tuesday March 29 at 10 p.m. This is only four days before the tournament is scheduled to kick off so I'm guessing it won't be the most intense of games - need to avoid injury - but will be more of a tactical walk-through.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ireland only has six Regina players

A noticeable trend over the past few WCP Cups is that the Republic of Ireland's roster contains less and less Regina players each year. The 2011 version of the tournament will be no different.

Ireland currently only has six Regina players lined up to play in April with the possibility of a seventh. Every other player on the team will be from out of town - mostly from Saskatoon. There is no rule for out-of-town players and to Ireland's credit, it's seeking out heritage players, but I don't think there's any other team that takes the talent searching to this level.

The Regina players that Ireland will have are Mike Collins, Andrew Sanderson, Mark Wernikowski, Shaan Kapila, Landon Heron and Jonah Gardikiotis when he returns. The seventh possible player will be whomever Ireland picks up to play keeper for two games. No guarantee it will be a Regina player though.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Norway vs. Afghanistan exhibition

All right, got the second game in the books less than 12 hours later. This is probably a good time to ask if anyone else wants to play us before the tourny. We don't have any field times booked, but if you've got a half field and are looking for competition we'd be up for it. Just get ahold of me or another Norway player one way or another.
Norway vs. Afghanistan exhibition, Sunday March 6, 10 p.m.

Norway vs. Nigeria 2011 exhibition

Mark it down all 16 of you 2010 non-playoff teams. On Sunday March 13 at 2 p.m., Norway and Nigeria will be playing an exhibition match at the soccer centre. This is a great chance to come out and see what kind of talent it takes to reach the playoff round for WCP Cup 2011, because rest assured both teams already have their tickets stamped.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

El Salvador losing key players for 2011

I've got some confirmation that El Salvador will be losing four key players for the 2011 WCP Cup. I'm not 100% sure of the reasons each player is out, but I'll provide what I'm relatively sure about.

1. Jordian "Chico" Farahani is out. I think it's some kind of tryout or something. Not sure with which team or even if its during the whole tourny. Just that he's out.

2. Patrick "Bubba" Baba is out. Injured his knee or something similar. Hasn't played in a while and won't be good to go for the tournament. Scored the two goals against Norway last year. Good player.

3. Dion Morgan is out. I'm not sure of the reason for this. Actually, I'm only about 75% sure he is out. I'll keep asking around.

4. The keeper is out. Don't remember his name or even who he is exactly for sure. Don't even remember playing him in 2010. Only know that he is out and they're looking for a new keeper.

So for everyone who thinks ES is going to walk through Group A with Laos and into the playoffs, maybe think again. Everyone thought that in 2010 and it never happened, and the team won't be nearly as good this time out. Could make things very, very interesting.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Portugal Shake-up

Portugal is losing two of its best players for the 2011 tournament. I've talked to a bunch of people who say that the striker Felipe and one of Portugal's best defenders, Craig, are going to be joining Canada.

This is a huge blow to Portugal's chances.

Say what you want about Felipe, but there is no doubt he brought his "A" game and an amazing amount of intensity to the WCP Cup tournament. Whenever Portugal needed a goal they always looked to Felipe and on many occasions he delivered. Craig is a solid defender and a player that rarely makes mistakes. He's not flashy like Felipe, but he's someone that any team could use at the back.

What this means is that Group B is substantially easier than it otherwise would have been if both of those players were still on Portugal. It also means that Canada's impressive roster just got another boost. I'm thinking they're the favourites of Pool D right now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Norway is Ecstatic

After the draw on Friday night, the unanimous reaction from every Norway player was "This could not have turned out any better." Getting placed in Group B with ROI, England, Serbia, Sierra Leone, and Portugal is like getting handed a golden ticket to the 2011 playoffs.

The big team in Group B is obviously ROI, but its also the team that Norway has played the best against in the past. I wrote this last year, but here's a refresher, "Norway has never lost to ROI in the WCP Cup." That includes the 2007 final. Obviously both teams have changed a lot since then, but I'm still confident we can make it extremely interesting.

For the other teams, I'm only slightly worried about Serbia because I know they have some decent players who can break a game open. Otherwise England should be pretty easy, Sierra Leone is new and experience definitely makes a difference, and Portugal is losing its two best players - more on that later.

2011 WCP Cup Groups

GROUP A
Laos
El Salvador
Austria
Sudan
Columbia
Northern Ireland

GROUP B
Republic of Ireland
NORWAY
Serbia
Sierra Leone
Portugal
England

GROUP C
France
Botswana
Greece
Italy
Nigeria
Afghanistan

GROUP D
Canada
Ukraine
Germany
Poland
Jamaica
Scotland

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 WCP Cup player rumours

So to put some slightly credible rumours out there....

Ireland is actively seeking players again. Credible rumours I've heard are:
Have wrapped up Poland's Brett Levis (mid-Saskatoon);
Are talking to Germany's Duncan McDougall (mid-Saskatoon);
Are looking for a keeper - either Germany's Simon Kluge (k-Saskatoon) or Ukraine's Kevin Krause (k-Yorkton). This is to replace (at least temporarily) the 2010 keeper Jonah Gardikiotis, who will be writing exams in Nova Scotia for at least the first part of the tournament.

Also, some Saskatoon players are likely going to be absent for games, again because of exams. If anyone else has heard anything, I'll look into it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New WCP Cup Site

The new WCP Cup site has finally launched so no more worries about being taken to the 2008 version every time you Google or try to go through CBC (although they probably won't update that link for a while). There isn't much for content on the site yet, but there are some important forms that should be useful to every team.

Men's Rules and Regulations
Heritage Verification Form
Player Transfer Form
Liability and Waiver Form

http://www.worldclassplayers.org/index.html

Somalia to be Sierra Leone

One of the new teams for this years' tournament has changed its country of origin. What was originally supposed to be Somalia will now instead be Sierra Leone because of more heritage apparently. I still have no idea who is going to be on this squad so if anyone has a clue feel free to fill everyone in. The same goes for the other new team, Sudan. Hopefully we'll see plenty of representation for both sides at the draw on Friday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coaches aren't important

As in years past, Norway will not have a coach on the sidelines for the 2011 tournament. It's been this way every single year and I doubt it will change any time soon. Without a coach Norway has won the Cup and made the playoffs in three of five years.

I'm not saying that this would work for every single team, but why is it that most squads feel its necessary to have someone on the bench now? Can't teams figure it out on their own in a tournament where you get to pick who you play with? Are there any teams besides Norway that don't have a coach right now?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Norway roster almost set

There are less than five days to the tournament draw and Norway has almost set its roster for the 2011 WCP Cup. We do not have tryouts, we don't have a coach and the selection process for players is completely subjective. This year, there will only be a few changes from the 2010 roster. As soon as everything is finalized, I'll post the new team.

One thing Norway hasn't done so far this year is get in many exhibition games. Because almost all of our players are regular participants in different RSA leagues, it has been difficult to organize field times that work for everyone. To this point we haven't had a single scrimmage or practice.

If and when exhibition games do get scheduled, I'll update with results. If any other teams are practicing regularly and need someone to play against, let us know.

Friday, February 11, 2011

One week to the draw

I can't decide if I'm pathetic for looking forward to the draw next week or if it's an event that I should be legitimately excited for. On the one hand, knowing the groups is essential for actually making predictions and building hype for the tournament. On the other hand, until the WCP Cup starts I'm not going to be sure who's even on which team, so conjecture of results is foolish.

Also, the one draw I have attended was anti-climatic compared to how it's hyped. The whole - setting it in a club, then inviting everyone including the youth teams and their parents and charging everyone cover - really threw off the anticipatory vibe. I'm guessing this is a no-win for the organizers because the youth teams need to be included, but shouldn't this really just be a kegger - with no required attendance and no expectations of teams taking it seriously?

Pick the groups right away; everyone have a few drinks; don't charge anyone money for a non-obligatory event.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Would relegation work?

To make the WCP Cup more competitive, would relegating teams from each tournament to a qualifier the next year work? Its done in junior hockey, the Olympics and other major tournaments. It could help with the dilution of talent and could eliminate meaningless games.

I'm in favour of something along the lines of the bottom 2 teams in every pool (8 total) from the 2011 tournament go to qualifiers for next year. Then all the new teams for 2012 and those relegated from 2011 have a tourny in February 2012 for 4 spots, and the actual WCP Cup in April 2012 only features 20 mens teams total.

For the 2012 tournament, make relegation for only the last-place teams from each pool to the 2013 qualifier, and have those teams play against any prospective new ones for the same four spots again.

This would give new teams a chance to earn a spot, plus make it possible to get back in if you sucked one year. Plus - it would make the games meaningful even for teams that aren't making the playoffs in the actual WCP Cup because one win could mean the difference between a qualifier the next year or not.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Poland losing key player?

So I've heard rumblings (again, nothing conclusive) that Poland will be losing their little Saskatoon player who played a key role on last year's squad. It seems that the player (if anyone knows his actual name, I'd be grateful to know it) is seriously considering going to play for Ireland, which we all know already has a bunch of Saskatoon players.

Needless to say, this would be a major blow to Poland's chances as that player was a sparkplug for their offence and a serious threat to score every time he had the ball. Tough to replace a player with those two qualities.

Monday, February 7, 2011

ADIOS - See ya later, Chile

If specualation is correct - and really, that's all I've got at this point - then Chile will not be back for WCP 2011. While it pains to see a team fold, I also have to nod and say, "At least we're not losing any talent."

Looking back at the 2010 standings Chile had an 0-4-0 record in Pool A and finished at -10 with only 5 goals scored. They weren't competitive and never threatened to seriously challenge the top 2 teams in that pool. We've all seen the men's tournament expand to the point where a lot ot teams' talent is ridiculously watered down so I, for one, am happy to see Chile fold up the tent and call it quits.

It would be even better if the men's side were to remain at 22 teams because in a couple of years it might have fallen to 20. Instead, two new teams are joining. On behalf of all the Norway players and fans, I'm crossing my fingers that we're in the same pool as Somalia or Sudan - or both.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How much are you willing to spend?

If the WCP Cup was a MasterCard commercial the Slogan would be:
Team entry: $900
Tournament Pass: $75
Personal Jersey: $60
Chance to win the championship: Priceless

Unfortunately, only one team wins the championship and everyone else is left grousing about how poor they are after the final game.
Glass half full – The tournament is always fun.
Glass half empty – It’s going to cost even more this year.

That’s right, more fees; especially if you plan on adding someone to your squad from another roster. The transfer fee is in effect to the tune of $200 per player. You can shrug it off by saying, “Well, we owe it to the team we plundered.” But that’s not true. Because who you’re actually paying is the WCP organizing committee.

Let that sink in.

On top of the team registration, the tournament pass, the jerseys, the $5 beer and the $2 cover charge for the draw ceremony coming up – you’re also now directly paying the organizers to change your roster from year-to-year.

Coming next year: A per-player TV charge going to the organizers for the privilege of being broadcast on Access7.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dates of Tournament Set

The 2011 version of the WCP Cup has set the start and finish dates, so mark your calendar (or smartphone, cellphone, palm pilot, whiteboard, sticky note or back of hand) now and don't plan anything important. For any university students - you are officially screwed because of final exams.

Pool Draw: Friday February 18th, 9:30 p.m., at the Italian Club. $2 Cover for a mandatory event! *Gag*

Schedule Released: Wednesday March 2nd.

Opening ceremonies: Still not set - Probably Friday April 1st because there's a baseball camp on the back fields all day Saturday April 2nd.

Start Date for games: Saturday April 2nd.

Final Day for games: Saturday April 23rd.