***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 8 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 one of Oceania’s island nations, Cook Islands.
Gone from Bad to Not Ranked
Nickname: Soka Kuki Airani
FIFA Ranking: Not ranked (Feb 2022)
If you thought there’s nothing worse being the absolute worst in the world, brace yourself for some bad news because the Cook Islands are proving there actually is such a thing. Ranked equal last in the world in September 2015, the national team known as Soka Kuki Airani have since just completely dropped off the FIFA rankings list altogether.
While their current position on (or off) the FIFA rankings is an accurate reflection of the team’s ability, their absence from the list is due mainly to their corresponding absence from the pitch. The national team hasn’t played an international since the first round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, all the way back in September 2015. An impressive outing for the outfit, they managed two wins in the group stage, besting Tonga and eventual group winner Samoa but, spoiler alert, it still wasn’t enough and they bowed out at the qualification’s initial hurdle on goal difference.
If you’re an optimist, the Cooks’ disappointing exit from World Cup 2018 qualifying was their worst result over the last six and a half years, if you’re a pessimist it was their worst, and if you’re a realist, well it was just their latest. Not having kicked a ball in anger since late 2015, Soka Kuki Airani finally stepped out for their first international in the centralized Oceania qualification tournament held in Qatar in March 2022. And badda bing, badda boom, they were one and done, having possibly just played their last match for another six and a half years, after their next two group matches were cancelled due to several players testing positive for COVID-19. To add to their woes, due to their inability to field a complete team, the Kukis ultimately had to withdraw from the tournament and head home. However, despite it being ultimately meaningless, their one outing against the Solomons (a 2-0 loss) means their six-and-a-half-year matchless streak is over, and in the next FIFA rankings (due to be released 31st March) they’ll finally be ranked again. AE!!!
Hopefully see ya out there on the field before another seven and a half years go by, Cook Islands!
One to watch: Lee Harmon, president of Cook Islands, ay?
Although his knowledge of the ins and outs of soccer was patchy to begin with, throughout his 24-year reign as president of the Cook Islands FA, Lee Harmon slowly but surely developed not only a cunning awareness of what soccer is, but also an adroitness at how to make an absolute killing off it. Known for his affable demeanor and naive charm, it made him the perfect man to exploit the game of soccer in an island nation whose nearest neighbour is over 1000 km away, basically has got no people and where, c’mon, who the hell’s gonna find out if he just gets involved with a few conflicts of interest, corruption, bribery, and offering and accepting gifts. Although this lead to a six-year ban from all soccer related activity and his immediate deposition from the FA presidency in 2021, it just goes to show you how far Harmon had come since those humble beginnings in 1997 (see above).
Harmon also went from a soccer zero to a soccer hero in the ticket scalping and price gouging arena, being suspended for 3 months by FIFA in 2019, for reselling match tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Now, with another World Cup on the horizon and the hunt for match tickets on in earnest, if you’re considering checking out a game or two in Qatar and want some cheap match tickets, just get in touch with the Cook Islands FA. Lee Harmon is sure to still be wandering about its corridors!
The Highpoint: The 2018 FIFA World Cup
Cook Islands didn’t reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, not even close, but former Cook Islands FA president Lee Harmon did make a shitton off scalping tickets to the tournament! So that’s one for the Cook Islands team!
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
FIFA World Cup Qualifying | Oceania Zone
COOK ISLANDS 🇨🇰 x 🇵🇫 TAHITI *
*match cancelled due to players testing positive to COVID-19
(Next match perhaps in less than another 50 or 100 years, fingers crossed!)