I’ve never been a supporter of teams simply because they look like sure-wins. Instead I look at their fighting spirit and potential to grow together as a team. If they win, it’s a bonus, but my loyalty will remain - unless there’s a fundamental change in the factors that made me support them in the first place.
The last time I took much interest in a World Cup, it was 2002. I had watched the first half of the Brazil-Turkey match at the airport in Istanbul.
Earlier, our Turkish tour guide had laughed off the possibility of Turkey getting much out of the World Cup, especially with their first game against favourites Brazil. But that day, at the airport bar, I witnessed Hasan Sas nonchalantly fire the ball into the Brazilian net, and suddenly things didn’t seem so impossible after all.
I liked the Turks’ fighting spirit, and for the remainder of the tournament I decided to support Turkey. Most of my Singaporean friends were supporting Japan or South Korea or the usual suspects, like England and Brasil. The French people I knew in Singapore supported their team, and when France was knocked out, they supported other teams that spoke French, like Senegal.
But I decided to be the lone Turkish supporter. In the end, I was vindicated when Turkey finished their campaign in 3rd place, beating hosts South Korea. Despite some fiery tempers they displayed the passion that I was looking for in an underdog that exceeded expectations. (Of course, they fizzled out in subsequent competitions due to a lack of teamwork, which I will discuss more conceptually below).
For the 2006 World Cup I somehow didn’t find the matches as exciting, and my sentiments were similar this year even as I watched the US equalise with England, while sitting at a pub in England. Nothing really got me excited enough - until I saw the Germans teach England a lesson in complacency.
I did think however that Germany wouldn’t make it past Argentina - though over-reliance on a certain Messi may prove to be the Argentineans’ downfall if they don’t work as a team, which the Germans are very good at. I also think we can turn the German story into a good corporate lesson on teamwork, especially if they lift the Cup this year.
Increasingly I believe the Germans have a good chance of going all the way, especially now that I have a new sporting fascination in the form of German playmaker Ozil - who happens to be of Turkish parentage.
As an Arsenal supporter (which proves my initial statement that I don’t support teams simply because they win cups, since Arsenal hasn’t done anything like that in years), I am doubly interested because he may very well be Fabregas’ replacement should the Spaniard decide to return to his cradle. It also fits in well with Arsene Wenger’s youth philosophy.
But we’ll leave that discussion for after the World Cup. To conclude, I support the team that has shown the best teamwork, with the least prima donna (or would that be primaradona?) attitude and hope that they will be the eventual winners for 2010.