by Shannon Teoh
It was pretty early on in this World Cup that I realised that even if the football might not turn out to be much – which it didn’t in the group stages, although it has suddenly burst to life in the round of 16 – it would at the very least, be remembered for some awesome names.
How early? Well, about 55 minutes early. That was when a bloke named Siphiwe Tshabalala finally broke through the Mexican defence and lashed an unsaveable shot into the top corner. For about 54 minutes before that, I was already straining to figure out what this dude who was loitering around Bafana Bafana’s left flank was named because the commentators kept stumbling over his name.
So much so that for the rest of the match, every long range shot was greeted by one other mate and myself – British bloke with some Malaysian blood actually, which might explain our shared love for the lawak bodoh – with random cries of “Shabalabalablabla!” or “Shababalawawa!” or something approximating that.
But Tshabalala (labalalalaba…) is not the only bodacious name in the tournament. In fact, the South Africans boast also, of perhaps, the rather unfortunately named MacBeth Sibaya. Uruguayans probably had a lot of players born through Caesareans. It is likely that MacBeth is the result of overambitious parents, who kind of failed to actually understand ol’ Bill’s tragedy. Reminds me of this bit in Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics, where this Black… uhh, Afro… errmm, African-American… you know… woman, names her daughter Jezebel, and another kid named Shithead (pronounced “Sh’ Theed”).
But what about Chile’s Waldo Ponce? Probably only funny in places where British slang is understood. There has otherwise been some stunningly FTW names as well. Like Socrates Papastathopoulos, who sounds like someone who waxes philosophical about chicken and spaghetti. It’s also likely that Papastatopo… Patata…., well, Socrates, earns the Greek FA half their revenue from shirt sales alone. Like RM200 for the shirt, and another RM20 for each letter.
None of these however, come close to the drama of Georgie Welcome’s, ahem, introduction into the Honduras squad. He came at the, hmm, expense I guess, of Carlo Costly, who paid the, ahhh, price, for being injured. But my personal favourite, without any doubt, is one Kamil Kopunek.
Yes, Kopunek. In fact, a friend of mine and I were joking after he was introduced from the subs bench against Italy, what sort of headlines would be in the local papers if he scored the winner against the world champions. Being in London, I never got to check them out, but we imagined they would go along the lines of “Kopunek tanamkan Italy!” or “Italy made to suffer Kopunek punishment” perhaps.
And so I sat in front of the telly for the Netherlands vs Slovakia game, hoping once again, for a sterling performance from Kopunek. Disappointingly, Kopunek had to be kept under wraps until the 71st minute.
There stood Kopunek, stripped off and ready for action. Would his first touch be as glorious as the one against Italy, where he sublimely chipped the Italian keeper, putting all of Slovakia into orgasmic rapture? Well, he slid into a rash challenge and got booked. So, yes, some impact, if a negative one. A few minutes later, he wins a freekick, jolly good. And then he even manages to dribble his way out of trouble once. But for all that he kept pumping til the very end, it was not to be and this will be last we see of Kopunek in the World Cup.
Unless… unless Kopunek lives long in our memory and his legend is retold from generation to generation. Unless #kopunek is showcased on our Twitter feeds, our next generation of World Cup-watching talents will never know of the great joy that Kopunek gave millions, if not billions around the world.
The Dutch might have beaten the Slovaks. But while in Amsterdam, you can openly pay for copulation, there’s no price you can pay for #kopunek-syen. If we used to say, “Your grandfather’s road ah?”, to be gender sensitive, we should also say, “#kopunek punya jalan ke?” Order some #kopunek ais during the next 2.30am game at the mamak. Go now, multiply and cover this earth! Go forth and #kopunek!
- Italy vs Slovakia by John Lim ~~~ In 2014, I'll be 35, and doubtless, that cycle of worry will return, and I'll have...
- Holland vs Uruguay by Koh Lay Chin ~~~ They were the ones I watched my first World Cup with in 1994, and they...
- Paraguay vs Slovakia by Yasmin Masidi ~~~ In a crowded market of jostling strips, perhaps there’s no room in Malaysia for teams outside...
- New Zealand vs Slovakia by Kubhaer T. Jethwani ~~~ “Sure confirm masuk Malaysian Book of Records… First Botak Malaysian wearing Yellow in a World...
- (ST) Netherlands vs Spain by Shannon Teoh ~~~ Got San Miguel, and we were supporting Spain. Set. Pay a bit more and get, well,...