“Crisp your hype” with “African Style” potato chips and sausages

My previous two posts clearly illustrate my unhealthy obsession fascination with the World Cup. But I am also, as many readers know, always on the lookout for quirky snackfoods.

So this advertisement in today’s Bangkok Post — in which these two interests of mine converged in a mishmash of globalization, odd English phrasing, and apparent ambush marketing — was right up my alley:

"African Style," "Limited Edition" Crunchips potato chips
(And here’s a larger version of the scan.)

Yes, you read that right: The ad is for Lorenz’s “limited edition,” “African Style” Crunchips brand potato chips and “Afrikawust” sausages from Hareico. (I believe that both Lorenz and Hareico are German companies.)

I especially love the copy on the right. It reads:

Don’t miss a moment of the excitement of The 2010 FIFA World Cup and crisp your hype with African Style Lorenz Crunchips and Hareico Sausage from Tops market and Central Food hall.

(Emphasis mine.)

German potato chips and sausages being sold in Thailand, using African advertising motifs and designed to capitalize on the World Cup. Wow.

Crisp your hype!


The World Cup so far: goalkeepers in the spotlight

We’re less than a week into the month-long World Cup, and there’s already plenty to discuss — much of it involving goalkeepers’ poor performances.

Specifically, much scorn has been heaped upon the usually top-notch Robert Green, whose mistake in the U.S.-England game on June 12 allowed the underdog American side to earn an unlikely point from a 1-1 draw.

England goalkeeper Rob Green.

The Three Lions scored a good goal in just the fourth minute via Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. But the U.S.’s Clint Dempsey, who plays for English Premier League outfit Fulham, equalized for the Americans in the 40th minute when Green fumbled Dempsey’s speculative shot from distance:

The English side were expected to win. And though they played better and created more chances than the U.S., it was Green’s error — in addition to some inspired saves from his counterpart in the U.S. goal, Tim howard — that turned the game. ((The result inspired frenzied media coverage in the U.S. and in the U.K. For a British take on the media response in the U.S., see this Sun item. And here’s a summary of British tabloid headlines from USA TODAY. There was also plenty of discussion on Twitter. @ShamSports tweeted: “Dictate, command, govern, eclipse, lead, dominate…then give it all back for free. Pretty much sums up England’s relationship with America.”))

I mentioned, in my last post, that I’m eager to see how the world’s best goalkeepers perform in this tournament. And I must say I’m surprised we’ve seen so many goalkeeping errors so far. Indeed, Green hasn’t been the only one to commit a conspicuous mistake.

On June 13, Algerian custodian Faouzi Chaouchi let a fairly tame shot slip through his hands, costing his team points against Slovenia.

And then yesterday, North Korea’s goalkeeper, Ri Myong Guk was caught out when Brazil’s magnificent Maicon scored at the near post. ((Perhaps the North Korean stopper found himself intimidated on the world stage. It would be hard to blame him if that were the case. He plays his club soccer for Pyongyang City Sports Group in the DPR Korea League.))

Indeed, all goalkeepers — even the best of them — make mistakes that lead to goals. Here’s Gigi Buffon, widely regarded as the world’s best custodian, making a schoolboy error a few years back.

So what’s the problem?

Some have speculated that the ball is to blame.


Germany coach Joachim Löw and the Jabulani.

The new Adidas Jabulani model is said to swerve and bounce unpredictably. Others say that the altitude may be to blame, as many games are being played in thin air, where driven balls dip and bend in strange ways. But these lapses seem to be errors in technique more than spills caused by odd aerodynamics. It will be interesting to see if the goalkeeping blunders continue through the tournament.

And finally, on a lighter note, if you missed the U.S.-England match — and Green’s mistake — you might enjoy watching the replay below, which has been recreated using LEGOs:


World Cup predictions and links


The 2010 World Cup begins in just under two hours, when the hosts, South Africa, take on Mexico. This will be first World Cup ever held in Africa. ((My earlier post about South Africa, Mexico, and a World Cup for prisoners here in Thailand is here.)) Given my love for the beautiful game, I am very, very excited.

A few thoughts:

On the U.S.’s chances and group C

I will be cheering on the U.S. team, naturally. The Americans face England, Algeria, and Slovenia in group C. First up for the Yanks: England.

The Three Lions are obviously the favorites to win this group, with the top two sides — as in all of the eight groups — advancing to the knock-out rounds.

I think it’s an advantage for the Americans to play England first. The pressure on the English side, in their first game of the tournament, will be enormous. There are lofty — and, many would argue, unjustified ((In the book Soccernomics, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski argue that England are not, as conventional wisdom has it, an under-performing world-class side. They perform in an above average manner for a second-tier European team.)) — expectations for England to make it at least to the semifinals in this tournament. ((A bit more on the subject of England’s past performances: history shows that England has not come close to winning any World Cup in the last twenty years. The side won their only World Cup in 1966, and even then they had the advantage of being the host nation. They reached the semi-finals in 1990 but haven’t made it past the quarter-finals since. I point this out not because I dislike the team. In fact, the English Premier League is my favorite of the world’s domestic leagues, and I would enjoy seeing the English team do well.))

In the team’s favor, of course, are a few world-class players (Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard) who ply their trade at the very top level in the English Premier League — the world’s most popular, most visible domestic league. And England now have a world-class coach in Italian Fabio Capello.

I think England will top the group, and I think that despite the fact that Algeria and Slovenia are weak sides, the U.S. will be fortunate to advance. After all, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: America may be the world’s third most populous nation, but the U.S. is a world soccer minnow.

The team’s FIFA World Ranking — a value to which I don’t assign much importance, by the way — may be 14, but apart from the team’s surprisingly successful performance at the 2002 World Cup, when many of the opponents may have under-estimated the American side, the U.S. has not yet shown that it is able to compete for the World Cup crown. ((Yes, the U.S. team did perform admirably in last summer’s Confederations Cup, losing to Brazil in the final.))

On the Group(s) of Death

Group D has Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana. Group G has Brazil, North Korea, the Ivory Coast, and Portugal. ((Yes, the North Koreans.))

On the weather

The World Cup always takes place in the summer — well, the summer in the northern hemisphere, that is. This year it will take place during the South African winter.

The temperatures will be cool, and some of the games will be played at altitude. Some argue that this will favor teams from the northern hemisphere, who are used to playing in the cold. In reality, though, many of the key players from the South American and African teams play their club soccer Europe, so the weather may not have a major impact.

On goalkeepers

Given the fact that I am stupid proud goalkeeper, I shall be watching, with great interest, the performances of the custodians in this World Cup.

I am eager to see how France’s talented, youthful Hugo Lloris gets on. And will Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, thought by many to be the world’s best goalkeeper, continue to perform for the Azzurri?

What about Brazil’s magnificent Julio Cesar, who has been in top-notch form for Inter Milan? And then, of course, there’s Spain, with another best-in-the-world contender, Iker Cassillas, between the sticks.

On the eventual winner

Only eight teams have ever won the World Cup: Brazil (five times), Italy (four times), Germany (three times), Argentina (two times), Uruguay (once), England (once), and France (once).

Despite projections that this may the year that Spain or the Netherlands break through to seize World Cup glory, I think the title will be won by one of the big three, based on past performances: Brazil, Italy, or Germany.

Of these three, I think Brazil will triumph. For one thing, a European team has never won a World Cup not hosted in Europe. And the Brazil side has a ruthless streak about them. They may lack a bit of their characteristic flair, but they are a unified team. And they know how to win.

The month-long tournament isn’t, ultimately, about who has the biggest stars. It’s about which team can play best as a unit. These three sides are masters at organization, discipline, and consistency. And, as the saying goes, they’ve been there before.

What about Argentina? I would love to see Lionel Messi, the game’s best player, work his magic and lift the World Cup next month. But my feeling is that Argentina’s coach — a guy by the name of Diego Maradona — doesn’t have the strategic ability to win at a major tournament.

And, finally, what about Spain? They could well do it. I wouldn’t mind seeing that happen. They play beautifully. We shall see…

Some links

Bangkok Journalism Thailand

Thailand’s World Cup Behind Bars

I spent several hours at Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison yesterday, where the “World Cup 2010 Behind Bars” kicked off. It was a truly uplifting event.

The tournament is modeled on the actual World Cup, with foreign and Thai inmates competing for a gold colored replica of the World Cup trophy.

In yesterday’s opening match, South Africa played Mexico — just as the two nations will square off later today, in the World Cup’s first game ((More on the real World Cup soon. I am highly excited.)).

There were cheering spectators. There were dancers. There was confetti. There was even a marching band. The prisoners with whom I spoke were all, understandably, delighted with the competition.

Here’s the story I wrote for AFP.

UPDATE: Here’s the full text of the story.


World Cup trophy comes to Bangkok


The World Cup trophy will be on display at Bangkok’s Paragon shopping center from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. tomorrow (Sat.).

Today’s Bangkok Post has the details:

The Fifa World Cup trophy arrived in Bangkok yesterday with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva receiving it in a ceremony at Don Mueang Airport.

“I am glad to touch the trophy,” said a smiling Abhisit who lifted the trophy.

The 18-carat, solid gold trophy is being taken to 83 countries on a 138,902km journey around the world and has already been received by more than 30 heads of states or governments.

The trip, which ends on May 4 when the trophy arrives in South Africa, is sponsored by Coca-Cola, a major sponsor of the World Cup.

The trophy will be on display to the general public tomorrow at the Royal Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon, from 10am-8pm.

(Emphasis mine.)


A World Cup in Southeast Asia?

The Bangkok Post has this short item:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country members are ready to jointly bid to host the Fifa World Cup in the next 13 years, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the 15th Asean Summit on Sunday.

And here’s more from the Jakarta Globe:

Hua Hin, Thailan. Southeast Asia may make a coordinated bid to host the soccer World Cup, with countries sharing hosting rights, a senior Thai official said on Friday.

“Together we have 580 million people, together we would rank as the fifth-largest country in the world,” Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said. “Why not?” The deadline for submitting bids for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals passed last February and it was unclear whether the Association of South East Nations was looking beyond those tournaments.

Asean groups Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia, which has submitted a bid to host the 2022 finals.

Eight of the 10 countries could each host a group of four teams in the competition, Korn said, adding that Japan and South Korea had set a co-hosting precedent in the 2002 World Cup.

(Emphasis mine.)