The UEFA Nations League

I tried to understand what a UEFA Nations League is and how it worked.

Firstly, I went to the UEFA website: horse’s mouth and all that. And then, when my brain exploded thanks to lines like this:

Due to excessive travel restrictions, any group could not contain a maximum of one of these pairs: Andorra & Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Azerbaijan

I asked online for assistance, which came in the form of a link from The Guru. Thanks, The Guru.

Because yes, Football365 seem to have done a good job in attempting to simplify a rather complex format. And am I alone in thinking that UEFA might actually be onto something here? It actually looks quite good.

And there’s more great news for me too: Supersport – who failed to secure the rights for the English League Cup or the Championship – have managed to scrape some cash together to buy some UEFA Nations League goodness.

Tonight kicks off (quite literally) with the following fixtures:

Kazakhstan v Georgia
SS3 HD (4pm)

Armenia v Liechtenstein
SS3 HD (6pm)

Wales v Rep. Ireland
SS6 HD (8.45pm)

Germany v France
SS3 HD (8.45pm)

Slovenia v Bulgaria
SS11 HD (8.45pm)

Czech Republic v Ukraine
SS7 HD (8.45pm)

I know what I’ll be doing at 1800.

Draft night

Being a football manager is easy money, right?

Pick your best 11 players each week, spout a cliché to the cameras in the tunnel after the match, carefully grumble about the standard of refereeing in the press conference, and then head home to your massive mansion and relax on a pile of large denomination banknotes.

I’m about to prove this theory by managing my fantasy football team – the Regal Beagles – to glory in our (now) regular draft league, starting tonight.

At least, we get to pick the players this evening. It’s a social event, with participants amassing at a secret Sea Point venue and others dialling in from the USA and Indonesia. There will be beer and pizza (in Sea Point, at least).

The actual league only begins on Friday, and I think I have a pretty formidable first XI (+ five subs) lined up. Sadly, there are 13 other players in the league, and I’m guessing that they will be after some (or more) of my team.

The way to sort this out amicably is the draft system, whereby everyone takes turns to choose a player. The draft system works by randomly assigning a draft number to each participant and then running through 1-14, and then 14-1. And repeat.
So essentially, manager 1 (who happens to be The Mexican) gets to choose the best player, but then only gets to choose the 28th best player as well. Manager 14 (The Ginger Ninja), might only get the 14th best player on offer, but then he also gets to choose the 15th best as well.

Last year, I got the first draft pick and I chose brilliantly: Mo Salah, no less. Sadly, by the time the 28th and 29th picks came around, the bottom of the fantasy barrel was already clearly on show and things went badly from there on in. I thought I was terrible at being a football manager, but some of the stats nerds on the team actually did some calculations and worked out that I was just very, very unlucky.

And lightning surely can’t strike twice, right?

This year, I got pick number 7, and I think I’ve already worked out who will be choosing whom in front of me. Obviously, I can’t reveal just who my first choices will be, for reasons of tactical security. But I think we can probably say that Mo Salah will be plying his trade somewhere away from Los Beaglez this year.

Of course, it’s not serious (but it is); it’s just for fun (but it matters); it’s all about the banter (and the points… always the points).

More news on the state of play once the teams have been picked and once the season has started.

Slip in a quickie

Careful now.

It’s been a great Father’s Day. We skyped my Dad, we did lunch, I sat on the couch and watched the World Cup all afternoon with a beer and a beagle for company.

I hope your day was equally good.

And, because I’m about to enjoy Brazil v Switzerland, here’s a quick quota photo to fill up the gap between yesterday and tomorrow.

Ethereal background, striking, but weird red and white post thing, perfectly positioned crescent moon. Not much to dislike here.

And now, football.

Thanks Jamie

World Cup pundits

If you’re overseas (as in not in SA) and are watching the World Cup, how good are your TV pundits?

Supersport have gone big with our hard-earned Randelas and brought in Gianfranco Zola and Andy Townsend, but the only effect of this input of foreign talent has been to make the local guys look distinctly average.

Andre Arendse’s comment that Peru would struggle in the Denmark game “because they hadn’t been at the World Cup for 56 years” came about 20 minutes after Iceland – who have never been the the World Cup before – got a draw with one of the big tournament favourites, Argentina.

And what does it matter if “the game’s moved on” since 1962? None of the Peru players were even alive then, were they? I was half expecting them to turn out in baggy shorts and with a hugely heavy leather football with huge stitching for the warm up.

Oh, and in black and white, obviously.

But that sort of comment is sadly par for the course.

I’m not saying that the guys in the studio don’t know about football: not at all. All I’m saying is that they’re not very good at talking on TV about what they know about football.

Still, what you can’t see, can’t hurt you:

Sometimes I’m glad that the internet here is as bad as the pundits.

All about today

The difficulties in accessing the back end of the blog continue, and the worst bit is that there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to them. Once there’s a pattern, you can start working out the problem, but at the moment, one device will work on one network, but not another, while another device will work on the the second network but not the first. And then, suddenly, it all changes around.

This post is being written on gmail on a computer that won’t connect to the blog, and then I’m going to cut and paste it into 6000 miles… from my phone, which is connected to the same network but which can see the blog and I don’t know how or why or even who.

Caches have been refreshed, blog plugins have been poked, help has been sought.
It hasn’t made a lot of difference.

Tonight, having enjoyed a lot of football since I arrived, I’m going to watch some football. It’s my daughter’s first ever footy match and it’s a big one. I’m guessing/hoping that we’ll see close on 30,000 at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane for the visit of Wolves. A far cry from the 105 who turned up at Sandygate last night to see some woeful refereeing and a 0-2 defeat for The Countrymen, then.
With a late night on the cards, we’ve been taking it easy today, helping Granddad out in the garden and sorting out some shopping, but I still feel like I’m ready for bed. Is there time for a pre-dinner nap? Hmm… possibly.

Oh, and I’ve also tried to upload some photos, but I’m of the mind to do a HUGE upload once I’m back in Cape Town, with LightRoom at my disposal.
There’s some stuff happening on Instagram if you don’t feel that you can wait for my return.