BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA: FIRST TIME EVER AT WORLD CUP AND ON PANINI WC STICKERS ALBUM
Bosnia is a miracle. Both as a country and as a football nation. If we only think about what these people had to go through no more than 20 years ago and the big football party they are about to live through now, it is a blessing. Life and football usually give back what they have taken. It is not hard to wish to Bosnia to go further from the group stage and enjoy this experience as long as possible. It’s their first time and hopes are high. ‘I hope we can go to the quarter finals because I'm sure that we have quality to make something like that in Brazil’ reveals Nõmme Kalju’s midfielder Novo Papaz, in Estonia since spring.
Obviously, when naming Bosnia, one names is one everyone’s mouth: Edin Dzeko.
‘We have so many good players, but key-player is Edin Dzeko’ confirms Novo with no shadow of doubt. ‘He had good season at Man City and I am confidend that he is going to be dangerous for all opponents at the World Cup’. Dzeko will have to push all the team because ‘all the country expect the most from Edin’.
What can boost and what can drag Bosnia? Novo tries to reason considering his country has no final tournament experience: ‘it’s a debut for us, however, we showed in friendly games how seriously we’re taking this endeavor when we played Mexico and Ivory Coast’. Indeed, Bosnia beat both of them, WC participants with far longer tradition at the WC, how cannot you be optimist then? ‘I think that we can win against every country but I know that's going to be hard against Argentina, a draw would be a good result for me. For sure we shall make points against Iran and Nigeria’.
Novo is new to Estonia and has found a companion and flat-mate in Richard Aland, Kalju’s second goalkeeper: ‘I will watch with him’.
When comes to memories, Novo has no doubts: Panini stickers. He confesses that he has been collecting all the albums since he started, assumingly since 1994 as he was born in 1990, when Italia90 took place, last time Jugoslavia participated into a final tournament (which counted 5 players from Bosnia-Hercegovina).
'Unfortunately I am not doing (Panini) here, there are no stickers and album available’. He got really glad to hear that they are on sale in local Selver supermarkets and R-Kiosk.
The passion can continue and he’ll certainly look forward to Dzeko’s sticker. Twice a first-timer.
NIGERIA: ONLY THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR THE SUPEREAGLES
A very optimistic Jasper Uwaegbulam, better known as Uwa (striker at Paide Linnameeskond), predicts a brilliant World Cup for his Nigeria: ‘when comes to the World Cup it is always hard to predict because all the countries have good teams and top players’ says the Paide Linnameeskond striker. ‘I can say that Nigeria will make it from group stage’ however, Uwa doesn’t put any restriction to dreaming something more: ‘they can make it to the quarters if they keep the mentality they used in the African Cup of Nation’.
We don’t know if Jasper will play WC fantasy football, however, if you do, you can pick his Supereagles that he acknowledge will be Nigeria key-man: Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahçe) Mikel Obi (Chelsea) Moses (Chelsea) Peter Osaze Odemwingie (Stoke City) Vincent Enyeama (Lille france) Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC) Joel Obi (Parma fc) Ahmed Musa (Cska Moscow). ‘Almost all of them are in top leagues’ explains the young centre-forward ‘but these are my top players in the Nigerian list for the world cup’. Nigeria can have a say when scoring goals, but will suffer when it will come to prevent them: ‘no doubt, we have strong point in the striking line and moderately in the midfield, defence is the weak link’.
When we ask him about where will he watch the World Cup, he casts a shadow over his future in the country’s club football: ‘as long as am in Estonia till then (end of World Cup – edit), I will watch it her…depends where I will or would be then…’
The SuperEagles have give some memorable performances at the World Cup, everyone reminds US94 exploit. What is Uwa’s memory of the WC? ‘World cup is every football player's dream’ reckons the Nigerian striker who had some problems in adapting to Estonia’s long and dark winters. ‘Naturally, right from my young age, I have been dreaming to be part of the national team players in the World Cup one day. It’s bigger than life: you playing and millions of people watching you from all over the world and also from your country. Your friends, family ,and relatives watching you, this is a great feelings!’
He reminds some concrete episodes connected with the SuperEagles: ‘I can remember when Nigeria won the Olympic Gold medal for football (1996)’ Nigeria beat Argentina in the final and Brazilian Bebeto was the topscorer with 6 goals. ‘I was very young watching Nigeria vs Brazil (the semifinal – edit). That day there were great celebration all over Nigeria and maybe in some other African countries as Nigeria came back from 3-1 to 3-4 to win the medal!’ Great emotions he still remembers: ‘I wish I was in the game or one of them, really. I want to experience the feelings to represent my country someday and do even more than Nigeria did in years back’ admits an ambitious Uwa, sidelined by an injury almist since the start of the Estonian season. ‘I used to enjoy watching France and Brazil for the likes of Thierry Henry and Ronaldo and I have been dreaming to be like one of them or even more’. The SuperEagles are always flying high.
GERMANY: LÖW IS NOT FIT FOR THE WORLD CUP, SKEPTICISM vs. TRADITION
(answers collected by Deni Delev)
Thanks to his return to Estonia on a pleasure and work trip, we managed to intercept Uwe Erkenbrecher, last season’s coach at Tammeka.
Uwe is now settled at VfR Neumunster, a Regionaliga Nord club in the Lower-Saxony area.
We asked him how far could Jogi Löw's squad go in Brazil: ‘quarter-finals, not further’ is the 59-year-old coach straight answer.
Why Uwe is not so optimistic to see Germany in the first four? ‘I think a real good team, normally, has just 14 or 15 players who can be given a start, like Spain or others’ explains the German gaffer with a playing past at Werder Bremen in the 70’s. ‘Instead, we have so many good ones but no set up XI’.
Abundance, sometimes, might be an issue, Uwe thinks.
Erkenbrecher is also very skeptical about Löw’s capacities in a one-month tournament: ‘I don’t trust Löw much under this point of view: he is a good coach for educating and building up teams, however he is not prepared for leading a squad in such a tournament. He will not be able to find the way to the final’.
Will any key-player help Germany then? ‘I don’t know, it’s very difficult to say’ confesses Uwe. And then goes on with a list of players who could or could have helped ‘Schweinsteiger is not fit right now as he’s been on and off injuries, Reus is out too, we have no leader’ concludes Uwe stressing once again the plenty of talents available (among others, he mentions Chelsea’s Schürrle).
Klose, despite his 35 years old of age, he cannot be a leader due to his position, deems the German coach born in Delmenhorst: ‘other teams have a leader, we don’t’. What about Lahm, the Captain? ‘He is in a group of leaders, but he is not the one to look at’.
When comes to weak and strong points, Uwe is quite clear: ‘we don’t have strikers’ explains ‘sometimes we play without number 9 and without strikers and I don’t like that’. He explains why this solution doesn’t make him happy fingering at Bayern Munich’s system of play set by Guardiola on a never-ending net of passes in pure 'tiki-taka' style: ‘we need to finalize’ sentences without any doubt Uwe, seeing in the Benzema-Ronaldo cooperation a good example of how to do it. What could help Germany instead? ‘They are not making too many calculations when facing such tournaments’ explains Erekenbrecher ‘they’re definitely a tournament team, our tradition and history speak for a us and that’s certainly our main strength. Everything can be possible, even though my general impression to reach the final is not really positive’.
Uwe confesses he will not be glued to the TV screen to watch all the games, however he will watch them at home, in Germany. ‘I follow a lot of football during the year’ explains the professional coach, in Estonia for a talent search in cooperation with Tammeka ‘and sometimes it happens that after half an hour from the kick-off I fall asleep in front of TV!' Uwe gifts RdS with one of his quotes.
His schedule for the World Cup is quite clear to avoid wasting energies: 'I’ll have a look at first games of each group, ‘make a picture’ of each team and then I will focus on some games only.’
‘I was a Bundesliga player in 1974 when Germany won the World Cup’ recalls Uwe when comes to rewind the memory tape ‘I played also against Bayern Munich and we had also a successfully friendly game against Real Madrid and I scored two goals, so 1974 was quite meaningful under my personal career point of view.’
With a mind thinking forward, Uwe admits he doesn’t know much about football history: ‘my son (Yannick, football reporter for Sky Sport Germany –edit) knows more than I do’.
PORTUGAL: CRISTIANO RONALDO, WEAPON OF CHOICE OR ISSUE, NO MID WAY
You say Portugal in Estonia and everyone thinks about Jorge Rodrigues, Nõmme Kalju’s defender at the club since 2011 (you can find a great interview by Evelin Ojamets with him here). However, if you say Portugal in the rest of the World, Cristiano Ronaldo (pronounced Cristianu Runaldu) is the man. Jorge has no doubts about this also in reading Portugal’s future in Brazil. ‘We are very dependent upon Cristiano Ronaldo – how far we will go it depends on how physically he will be’. Needless to say ‘Ronnie’ is the key-player. ‘However, this dependency it’s indeed our weakest link’ admits Jorge to RdS. How to compensate it? ‘Experienced players, we have many. They are used to play in final tournaments. Additionally we have some young and promising players. It is a good mix’ hopes Jorge who also takes a look at the other title favorites. ‘Portugal can always be deemed a good candidate to rise the cup’ reassures the 32-year-old defender ‘but there are so many great national teams with even better chances.’ A special thought for the hosts ‘Brazil have extra strenght because they have a great team and they play at home. Argentina can count on Messi and Spain are the defending Champions.’
When it comes to the place where going to watch, Jorge is already all set-up for the kick-off: ‘Varblane, it is the best venue in Tallinn to watch it as it is totally ready for the World Cup. There are many plasma TV where I can share my emotions and vibrate. You will find me there with my jersey and scarf very proud of My Portugal!’'
Even if they didn't win, Jorge's best memories are from 2006 when they clinched the fourth place (not the best result as in 1966 Eusebio&Co. were 3rd in England).
'In my opinion, we had one of the best national teams of all times. 2006 marked the retiredment of icons and idols with the likes of Luis Figo and Pauleta. The latter, at some time, he was one of the best strikers in Portugal. We lost to Germany, the World Cup hosts, in the 3rd/4th place final. I remember the game against England, very emotional'