It’s more fun watching a sporting event with a rooting interest. For team sports in the 2021 Olympics, especially if you can’t place a wager and get bummed by empty venues, you might look for team names to find your choice. National soccer, basketball, and rugby teams sport colorful nicknames, sometimes official, sometimes legitimated by fan bases, and often differing from that country’s other national teams.
With choices based on cool names rather than prowess of teams, notwithstanding whether these teams would even qualify for an Olympic event, the top potential international match-ups in these sports from which you might find your rooting interest are ranked below.
Choices do steer away from joke names (Filipino men’s soccer team called the Stray Dogs) or one-shot wonders (’92 U.S. men’s basketball Dream Team). Names come from FIFA (Federation International Football Association), FIBA (Federation International of Basketball), and World Rugby (founded as the International Rugby Football Board) teams.
Contrasting names make The Serene / Rainbow Warriors match-up intriguing. It also pits the lowest ranked FIFA teams as of the Covid-19 initial stoppage. Amazingly, San Marino stays Serene.
Both sides take names from homeland music. Soca, or soulful calypso, emphasizes rhythmic energy and electronics over the storytelling found in calypso songs. Soca promotes dancing; calypso watching. Gombey Bermuda is dance and music. The dance mixes elements of British, West African and indigenous cultures. Other soccer teams also sport names that marry soccer and music: The Reggae Boyz (Jamaica), Wadadi Boyz (Antigua & Barbuda), Rake and Scrape Boys (Bahamas), and Bhangra Boys (India, also called Blue Tigers).
8. Powerpuff Girls (Columbia) Vs. Golden Girls (Vietnam)
Television would brand this the Generations Cup. The Columbia women’s team is called the Powerpuff Girls, though the country’s men are called the Coffeemakers. The Vietnam women’s team is the Golden Girls. Since both Powerpuff Girls and Golden Girls have U.S. television connotations, the match-up would be a classic: Under Tens vs. Over Sixties?
7. Sakura 15 (Japan) Vs. Red Roses (England)
Sakura 15, Japan’s women’s rugby team, sounds like Seven Samurai or Ocean’s 11. Though a winner in Asia, the Sakura 15 has not distinguished itself internationally. It’s matched against England’s Red Roses, with two World Cup wins and five runner-up finishes. Ironically, the Japanese men’s team might have the better name, Brave Blossoms, and resume for this match-up that would promise the opposite of rugged, rugby scrum clashes.
6. 12 Giant Men (Turkey) Vs. Team of Cedars (Lebanon)
Truth-in-advertising? This match-up stands tall. Cedars can grow over 130 feet. And, who knows, maybe the Philippines’ Monkey-eating Eagles could perch in the Team of Cedars and the 12 Giant Men could ride to battle on China’s Team Dragon or Cote d’Ivoire’s Elephants.
5. Yellow Dragons (Bhutan) Vs. Little Canary (Brazil)
Both match-up sides wear yellow, though they contrast size-wise, itself reversing team quality. Bhutan hovers near the bottom of international ratings. Conversely, the real dragon of international soccer has always been the Brazilians.
In a similar vein, it might be fun to see friendlies between Egypt’s Pharaohs and Mozambique’s Mambas, Panama’s Red Tide and the Blue Land Crabs of the Northern Mariana Islands, or even the Welsh Dragons against Malta’s Knights of St. John.
4. Indomitable Lions (Cameroon) Vs. War Elephants (Thailand)
The Indomitable Lions twice won the African Cup of Nations and became the first African team to advance to the World Cup semifinals in 1990. The War Elephants of Thailand have not fared as well. They did manage to win an Asian Cup in 1972, and FIFA ranked them 43rd internationally in 1998, a dream ranking of late.And, speaking of the animal kingdom, wouldn’t it be colorful to match Bahrain’s Red Wolves, Mongolia’s Blue Wolves and Uzbekistan’s White Wolves or the White Eagles of Serbia, the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Eagles of Carthage?
3. Opals (Australia) Vs. Tall Ferns (New Zealand)
This women’s basketball match-up illustrates the creativity of nations individuating national team names among sports. New Zealand’s famed men’s rugby team is the All Blacks; its female counterpart, the Black Ferns. So too, the Aussies match the Kiwis with the Boomers in basketball, the Wallabies and Wallaroos in rugby, and the Socceroos and Matildas in soccer. Oy, Oy, Oy!
2. Steinbocke (Austria) Vs. Springboks (South Africa)
Austria’s Steinbocke, a mountain goat, provides the perfect name match-up with South Africa’s Springboks (an antelope). Neither preys on other animals. Austria’s rugby team doesn’t prey on foes. Springboks, though, are quite able. The male, noted for “pronking,” leaps into the air with four feet off the ground. Fittingly then, South Africa has “pronked” its way to three rugby World Cups after its international apartheid boycott.
1. The Dodos (Mauritius) Vs. Crescent Stars (Turkey)
Also called Club M., the Dodos represent the island nation off the African continent’s southeast coast. Flightless Dodo birds, extinct, were native to Mauritius. Soccer’s been played in Turkey, of the Ottoman Empire, for over a century. Moreover, the Crescent Stars are also a major Turkish social force.
Other noteworthy international soccer names? How about a myriad of boys’ names: Nature Boys (British Virgin Islands); Sugar Boyz (St. Kitts and Nevis); and Spice Boyz (Grenada)? Or, great female names: Congo’s Red She-Devils; Maldives’ Daughters of the Waves; and Rwanda’s She-Wasps? Soccer creature names of note would include Algeria’s Desert Foxes, Ethiopia’s Wild Goats, Mali’s Hippos or even the Scottish Terriers.
Catchy people names include Jordan’s Chivalrous, Czech Republic’s Locomotive, Swaziland’s Shield of the Majesty, Denmark’s Dynamite and Zambia’s Copper Bullets. And, to conclude with another great match-up: Myanmar’s White Angels versus Belgium’s Red Devils.