I was looking at the BBC News home page a few days ago, and glanced at some of the World Cup coverage. I think it's wonderful that the US made it, and I hope they do well, but what really captivated me was the discovery that tiny Togo had qualified. I am a sucker for underdogs, and so naturally I began rooting for Togo to win. I mean: Togo is a very poor country (per capita income $310 in 2005; it has about 6 million people, nearly half of whom are below 15; since (presumably) around half of those over 15 are women, who are ( I assume) not eligible for the team, Togo has to find its players among a mere 1.5 million men over 15. And yet, somehow, it has qualified for the World Cup! Yay for Togo!
(It's the same streak in me that led me to get a license plate holder that says: 'The starry skies above; the moral law within': I thought: if anyone sees this and knows where it comes from, they will get such a kick out of it! Very unlikely, but such a big payoff. Likewise, if Togo wins the World Cup, it will presumably mean a lot more to the Togolese than, say, Italy's victory would mean to the Italians.)
Alas, they were defeated 2-1 by South Korea yesterday. The BBC account makes it sound as though they could have won, but no. They play Switzerland on Monday, and then France on the following Friday, after which the matches depend on who wins in the various groups. I hope Togo will sweep to victory, leaving Argentina, Brazil and even David Beckham in the dust. But somehow I doubt it.
OMG! In doing the research for this, I just noticed that Angola has qualified! Now my loyalties are well and truly divided: tiny scrappy Togo versus war-ravaged Angola. If either of them win, I will be a very happy person. Alas, Angola has not only lost; it lost to Portugal, its former colonial ruler. That has to hurt.