***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 7 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Benin, which is yet to qualify for a World Cup.
JUST VOODOO IT.
Nickname: The Squirrels
FIFA Ranking: 84 (Mar 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from second round (CAF), finishing behind DR Congo
When tracking the authentic birthplace of voodoo, all roads lead to Benin. Nationally recognised as an official religion, it plays a humungous role in the everyday lives of Benin’s national soccer team. Instead of Xs and Os, match tactics, a ‘game plan’ or grassroots coaching and development, it’s ceremonies, sacrificial rituals, snake worship, partaking of menstrual blood and retrieving the hearts of a dead person that are favoured by Benin. And while these approaches have conjured up some success for The Squirrels on the field, when it comes to successfully qualifying for a World Cup, they just don’t quite know what they’re voodooing.
Benin has qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations on three occasions, but their constant failure in trying to claim a spot at international soccer’s grandest stage proves that although Benin’s voodooing okay, it’s going to have to voodoo a lot better if it’s to take the next step. They came closest to reaching a World Cup Finals in qualifying for the 2010 edition (the first to be held in Africa) when they finished 2nd behind qualifiers Ghana, and in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, all they needed was a draw against DR Congo on the final matchday to advance to the final playoff for a place at Qatar, but they blew it. These failures have raised questions about how Benin’s work ethic when it comes to voodooing things professionally.
While Benin did invent voodoo, that doesn’t mean it’s mastered it, and much like Harry Potter wasn’t perfect at spells from the get-go, or how it took Hermione years of hard work and practice before she could turn someone’s brain into a beachball (don’t know, never seen the movies), Benin have got to step up their voodoo game if they want to voodoo what they voodoo in the big leagues. Maybe Benin could hire a voodoo tutor to help them consolidate their voodoo and sacrificial ceremony basics? Or perhaps it’s not drinking enough menstrual blood? Maybe it’s retrieving the hearts of the wrong types of dead people? Perhaps the rotten flesh that sits atop its Dankoli fetish could use refreshing? Or maybe it would benefit from deploying foreign goats, chickens and the occasional dogs and cats in ritualistic slaughters to appease the Gods (instead of local ones)?
With a couple years before the next qualifying cycle kicks off, Benin has time to address these questions and hopefully make 2026 the year they finally voodoo it and stamp their ticket for the World Cup.
One to watch: Pythons
The python is a venerated creature in Benin and any attempt to maim or kill one automatically transfers a curse on the killer. Pythons should be left alone and given the lay of the land, so if whether in the shower, at work or at the breakfast table, go ahead and let all nearby pythons to crawl around in your hair, on your desk and wherever they want up in ya business.
The Highpoint: 2022 World Cup qualifying (everything before the 8th minute of the final match vs DR Congo.
In March 2022, Benin were just 83 minutes away from advancing to the third and final round of African qualifying for the 2022 Qlamqtar World Cup. Sadly for the squirrels however, a game of association football doesn’t last 7 minutes, but a whole 90. Benin just required a draw away to DR Congo on the final matchday to move on to the playoff round of qualifying, where a win would have booked their place at their first ever World Cup. To add insult to injury, had the draw for the playoffs panned out exactly the same way, Benin would have been matched up again Morocco, a team they would have been confident of overcoming, after only having beaten them in the round of 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Alas, it wasn’t to be as, one, referees rarely blow for full-time 7 minutes into match (and this was another occasion where he didn’t), two, they really had no chance if you take a look at the penalty that was awarded to DR Congo in the 8th minute (and questionable, suspicious and incomprehensible refereeing decisions are something that African football is not known for) and thirdly, a brace of goals by DR Congo in Brazzaville meant that in the eternal struggle between leopards and squirrels, it was the Leopards who had once again come out on top.
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
CAF AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS 2023 IVORY COAST | QUALIFYING – GROUP STAGE
4 June 2022
SENEGAL 🇸🇳 x 🇧🇯 BENIN
8 June 2022
BENIN 🇧🇯 x 🇲🇿 MOZAMBIQUE
19 Sep 2022
BENIN 🇧🇯 x 🇷🇼 RWANDA