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Five nicknames with history

Five nicknames with history

Bafana Bafana (South Africa)
In 1992, when the South African national team returned to international competition following the abolition of apartheid, the South African Football Association was keen to follow the example of other African national sides and come up with a nickname. Sbu Mseleku, a journalist working for a newspaper in Soweto, stole a march by calling the team “Bafana Bafana” (The Boys) after a Zulu term meaning “young men” or “adolescents”. The South African FA were initially not very taken with the name because its translation did not fully evoke the physically imposing nature of the South African senior side. Nevertheless, the popularity of the epithet helped to overcome the association’s initial misgivings and it was eventually accepted as the official nickname.

A Canarinha (Brazil)
After the country’s failure in 1950 FIFA World Cup TM and the famous “maracanzo” inflicted by Uruguay on Brazil in beating them in Rio de Janeiro – a match in which the Brazilians played in white – the Brazilian football association launched a competition to find a new kit design. The competition, which stipulated that the new kit had to incorporate the colors of the Brazilian flag, was eventually won by southern Brazilian engineer Aldyr Garcia Schlea, whose design consisted of white socks, blue shorts, and a yellow shirt with green cuffs, collar and numbering. Brazil wore this kit for the first time in Santiago (Chile) on 28 February 1954 in qualifying match for the 1954 FIFA World Cup TM in Switzerland, in which they beat the home side 2- 0 thanks to a brace from Baltazar. The nicknames “Scratch de Ouro” (“the Golden Team”) and “Selecao Canarinha” (“the Canary Yellows”) date from that period, but did not become popular until 1970 when they were used by the famous commentator from Sao Paolo, Geraldo Jose de Almeida, during the first World Cup to be televised.

Danish Dynamite (Denmark)
The nickname “Danish Dynamite” took root when the Danish national team secured a famous victory over England at the mytical Wmbley Stadium on 21 September 1983, with Allan Simonsen scoring the only goal. This win set the Danes on the road to qualification for EURO 1984 in France, where they reached the semi-finals. Three weeks before the match against England, a Dansih newspaper launched a competition to choose a song for the Danish national team. The chorus “We are red, we are white, we are Danish dynamite” became very popular, to the extern that part of it stuck as the team’s nickname.

Les Lions Indomptables (Cameroon)
This nickname was the brainchild of the Cameroonia Ministry of Sport in 1972. Following Cameroon’s failure to qualify for that year’s African Cup of Nations, head of state Ahmadou Ahidjo ordered a wholesale reform of the country’s footballing infrastructure. One of the changes introduced was a nickname for the national side. The Ministry of Sport met with various figures from the world of football and sport in general, one of whom came up with the idea for the name. The initial idea was to call the team “lions”, but it was later considered advisable to use an adjective to differentiate Cameroon from other African “lions”, whereupon “indomitable” was added.

The Socceroos (Australia)
The creation of the word “Socceroos” a hybrid of the words “soccer” and “kangaroos” used to refer to the Australian football team is attributed to “Sydney Daily Mirror” editor Tony Horstead, who coined it during a tour of Vietnam in 1967. Australia’s victory over Korea Republic in the final in this eight-team tournament (3 – 2) secured them their first ever international trophy. Soon after, the team Socceroos caught on quickly among fans and players alike.