Feb 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group C – Algeria 2 Slovenia 1

FT//31 comments • 1,022 views

With much of the attention on the England/USA clash, Group C’s second opening game is a fantastic opportunity for Algeria and Slovenia to make a strong opening to their campaign. Algeria is managed by Martin Skidmore, and Slovenia by veteran pop manager Kat Stevens.

Vote away! This match closes at midnight on February 22nd.

ALGERIA: Chaba Zahouania – “Sahr Liyali” The manager says – “This beautiful rai track, translated as ‘Nights Without Sleeping’ or ‘Going Out Every Night’, is an old favourite of mine. It’s a bit of a grower, so a risky pick, but I hope its loveliness will capture some hearts.”

SLOVENIA: Tinkara – “Ujeti Svet” The manager says – “After a last minute injury, Slovenia’s star player was forced to WITHDRAW until their kickdrum healed, throwing the team’s tactics into disarray. However one woman stepped into the breach wielding her flute aloft, her tales of internet romance spanning both the language divide and our hearts: Viva Tinkara!”

Group C Match 2: Which track did you like better?

  • Algeria: Chaba Zahouania 62%
  • Slovenia: Tinkara 38%

Total Voters: 69

Poll closes: 22 Feb 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis: “Bewitching movement and passing from the Algerian side, but do they have a plan B I wonder – hard to see them switching it up a gear if they need to. Slovenia are sloppier but more direct: a lot will depend on how their strikers are in front of goal.”

Results: France 2 Uruguay 3 A pulsating game watched by a record crowd – Uruguay took an early lead and never really looked like relinquishing it despite a fierce France fightback. “Uruguay are using old-fashioned tactics but are by no means conservative. They keep it tight, focussed and direct and crucially know where the goal is – “we want you to dance… all night long!”” “Fancy tricks from the French who seem to have their act together but are they hitting enough shots on target?” “Whoops, last minute – the French autotune puts it into its own net. Shot of Serge Gainsbourg and Zinedine Zidane sat in the posh seats, muttering gravely to each other.”

Coming Up! Group D on Thursday and Friday – first of all Germany take on Australia, and then Ghana’s opening game pits them against Serbia.


  1. 1
    Tom on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Love a bit of rai, me, without actually knowing anything about it, so Algeria gets my vote – that shimmer and the perpetual motion rhythm working beautifully against the mournful, clotted vocals.

    Good effort from Slovenia though and I think this one could be quite close.

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 Feb 2010 #

    The triumphant Slovenes appear to have the Algerian side running round in CIRCLES! :)

  3. 3
    Marna on 16 Feb 2010 #

    A quick question! Italy’s manager (that’s me!) is making their final selection, and cannot remember the rules on remixes. Many of Italy’s fine players have ambiguous origins.

  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 16 Feb 2010 #

    I think a song can be used if at least one member of the credited act, producer, remixer is from the country you’re managing. But surely the more tenuous the connection the greater the risk of being voted against. The fans do value authenticity to a fair extent.

  5. 5
    Matt DC on 16 Feb 2010 #

    The Algerian Pop Association appear to have made a canny decision here in appointing a manager with a deep-seated appreciation for the national game. It shows – this Algerian side are exquisite. So deft of touch and precise of passing that, despite the more restrained tempo of their game, the Slovenians can barely get the ball off them.

    The Slovenian entry isn’t bad at all – they can run and tackle and tackle and run but such is the quality of Algeria’s play that I’m predicting a comfortable win for the North Africans. Also, that flute player should probably have been left back in the departure lounge.

  6. 6
    Tom on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Remixes: at least ONE of the original artist or the remixer should be from the managed country. BUT play with caution – it’s the voters who decide and this tactic can be punished.

  7. 7
    Tim on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Overall I think I agree with Matt, but would like to add that:

    “You, you turn off the sun as you wish
    Like you switched out the light to a fish”

    is the kind of inspired play I rarely see in our national leagues and that’s one reason I love the PWC.

  8. 8
    tonya on 16 Feb 2010 #

    My goal for the day: working “teleprompter to perfection” into everyday conversation.

  9. 9
    Pete on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Is it “like you switched out the light to a fridge?”

    Slovenia are the fist smallish European nation we have had so far, and this is not far off what I would expect. A solid little pop song with enough of a bonkers chorus to be lovable. But, the Rai, the Rai, and part of me wants to see that win so we ge3t it out of the way for my match. Good teams, good managers, closeish I think.

  10. 10
    Steve Mannion on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Algeria FTW! I love those dicey flourishes from the…accordion-type thing. They might not keep a clean sheet against a fresh, plucky Slovenian team but they really are deadly on the break.

  11. 11
    Birdseed on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Oh I can’t be bothered to wrap this one up in hackneyed football metaphors so here goes:

    That post-punkish spirit in the Algeria track – with the power pop drums and the lovely pitch-bending synth part that lies somewhere between “Pipeline” and “Oh Bondage! Up Yours” – is fantastic, and totally belies the “Algeria’s disco” idea in favour of something much more complex and awkward-fitting. Best track so far in the competition for me, and a hands-down win against the listless Slovenian FM rock.

  12. 12
    koganbot on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Hackneyed football metaphors for me!, as the Algerians are both smooth and relentless even if somewhat unvarying in their back and center formations. The striker compensates with endless and subtle variety, leaving the Slovenians flatfooted. The only real way to defend this is to employ jiu jitsu tactics that use the Algerians’ own motion against them, but Slovenia lacks the dexterity so opts for the oomph of a Laura Branigan type. As we recall, Branigan flourished in nearby Italy, but her oomph was emphatic and had a Branigan dance, which the Slovenian effort lacks. Easy win for Algeria.

  13. 13
    JimD on 16 Feb 2010 #

    Algeria score straight from kick off, with that gorgeous riff. But they seem happy to sit on their lead and don’t really push forward after those opening minutes. Slovenia look uninspiring to begin with, and their chorus is disappointing, but there’s a trick up their sleeve – that’s not a chorus, it’s a bridge! The real chorus springs through and blasts on into the back of the net. 1-1 at half time.

    The second half is painful to watch though, both teams failing to come up with anything to match their earlier flair. And Algeria’s real problems come just as they think they’re safe: 3 minutes of injury time. In those closing minutes they’re just worn out, and Slovenia take advantage with a last minute substitution…it’s only Jethro bleeding Tull! He dances round the Algerian keeper and pops in the winner. 2-1 to Slovenia!

  14. 14
    jeff w on 17 Feb 2010 #

    I’m with Jim here, Brian. Slovenia look like Rymans Leaguers at the start, with only that occasional synth flourish indicating there’s any spark to their play. But then they bring on an import from the prog league! The flute solo totally redeems the track. But did this come too late for the Slovenes? It may only give them a draw at best.

    How about some BOSH next time though Kat, eh?

  15. 15
    Kat but logged out innit on 17 Feb 2010 #

    Player no. 808 is currently undergoing some vigorous 4-to-the-floor physio on the bench.

  16. 16
    Martin Skidmore on 17 Feb 2010 #

    I am very pleased with my team’s performance here, and we have some different things to come in the rest of the group games – and even a list of choice tracks leading all the way to the final, since I don’t want to be caught out if my squad can pull off a miraculous run from the toughest of groups.

  17. 17
    CarsmileSteve on 17 Feb 2010 #

    it sounds like fish not fridge to me…

    i thought the slovenes were just about holding there own here, but last minute own-goal with the flute to my mind.

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 17 Feb 2010 #

    uh? the flute is good! am pro-flute in general tho.

    they must be talking about those deep sea fish with the bulbs coming out of their heads. marvellous.

  19. 19
    Kat but logged out innit on 17 Feb 2010 #

    The Slovenian management would like to point out that ‘Ujeti Svet’ directly translates to ‘TRAMMEL THE WORLD”. Fish or no fish we will TRIUMPH AT THE END.

  20. 20
    weej on 18 Feb 2010 #

    A lacklustre performance from Slovenia. The Algerians may also have their weaknesses, but against this competition they look like world-beaters.

  21. 21
    Martin Skidmore on 18 Feb 2010 #

    We might be resting our best players in anticipation of the two games against the giants of the pop world cup ahead. We might not, though, since we were not sure how strong Slovenia would be and we were worried about a very boshing attack.

  22. 22
    Jonathan Bogart on 19 Feb 2010 #

    Algeria’s game is certainly consistent! They attack strongly, but seem never to vary in that strength, which might mean a slippery, trickier competitor could walk over them.

    Slovenia, on the other hand… perhaps it’s just my own personal dislike for their style of play, but there’s something very late-90s Lilith Fair about it, and I don’t mean that in a complimentary sense. (As for the Jethro Tullism, that’s a strong strike against them in my book. Flutes are one thing; low-end riffs that bring to mind a middle-aged man on one foot are something else entirely.) They’ve got the imagination, but I don’t think they have the strength to take it away from a uniformly, even boringly dominant Algeria.

  23. 23
    Tom on 22 Feb 2010 #

    Voting on this closes tonight – it’s lagging behind in votes a bit so go back to it!

  24. 24
    lex on 22 Feb 2010 #

    One of the best matches so far! Have downloaded both.

    I know v. little about rai but it’s on my shortlist of “genres to get into when I am old”; commentators complaining that it’s unvarying or whatevz need to understand that not everything is a 3-minute verse-chorus-verse pop song, and to stop being so bloody conservative in their demands. The virtues of length and repetition are plentiful, and there’s so much detail in the arrangement, different instruments working with and against each other; it seduces by hypnotising.

    The SLO track has a great chorus but it’s the kind of MOR-pop track that stands or falls on its lyrics; it’s got many English-language counterparts, some of which I’ve loved and some of which I’ve hated, but when I don’t get any sense of narrative or lyrical detail it’s not something I can care about either way. That said there is a point in the chorus where it sounds suddenly like she slips into English to sing “you turn off the sun as you wish / like a switched-off light to a fish” – I assume she doesn’t actually do this.

    ALG it is.

  25. 25
    Pete on 22 Feb 2010 #

    Oh no Lex, she certainly does sing that, and it makes prefect sense within the context of the song too (if you consider that to a tropical fish in a fish tank, the fish tank light is their “sun”).

    Both were terrific, but when I found myself singing said fish / sun couplet to myself the other day I knew it had to be Slovenia.

  26. 26
    lex on 22 Feb 2010 #

    But why would she slip into English for one line only, especially if the line is that!

  27. 27
    Kat but logged out innit on 22 Feb 2010 #

    I have no idea – Tinkara is known to be rather eccentric. There’s a version fully in Slovenian too, but for obvious reasons I went for the version that mentioned the fish.

  28. 28
    Steve Mannion on 22 Feb 2010 #

    How much is the fish?

  29. 29
    Kat but logged out innit on 22 Feb 2010 #

    How does she get off the bus?

  30. 30
    thefatgit on 22 Feb 2010 #

    The flute clinched it for me! Straight out of nowhere, a full-on screaming 30 yarder reminiscent of Iain Anderson in his full pomp! Fish with lights? Well that’s DEEP!

  31. 31
    Pete on 23 Feb 2010 #

    Excellent play from both sides, Algeria for the win , though good to see Slovenia running them so close. I am not looking forward to playing these two at all, its not as if Martin will run ouyt of Rai, or Kat has even started to uncover all of the Bosh in Slovenia. V.glad I have a win under my belt.

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