Apr 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group C – USA vs Algeria

FT/28 comments • 721 views

This group’s as tight as anything. Any of the four could go through, any of the four could go out. This is not time for letting up or blooding the weaker squad members. This is a time for giving it everything and worrying the knockout rounds if and when it comes to that.

This match closes at midnight on Tuesday 13th April

USA: Mascott – “Oh Peggy!” The Manager Says: “If I have one rule about selecting tracks for the Pop World Cup it is to only keep half an eye on the opposition. And after considering the possible run-ins with the copyright police for a number of tracks I might choose, I decided instead to take my favourite US musical memory of last year to play direct but pretty football for me. Mascott, Kendall Meade’s short sharp pop song making MACHINE represent for the native USA with the string heavy UK only bonus track from their Art Project album of last year, which was also their set opener on their live dates in London. As a statement of intent you don’t get any better, Kendall’s terrific singing voice strapped to a supple but sweet song. This feels like a must win game for me, Algeria are strong, but I have a sneaky suspicion that they are going to play to their strengths which may also equal lengths. Can beauty soothe the savage Algerian beast and put us into the final sixteen? I hope so. Mascott Website

Algeria: Cheb Khaled – “Hada Raykoum” The Manager Says: “After mighty Algeria disappointed everyone by losing to the pop minnows of England, the papers back in Algeria are calling for me to be sacked, but thankfully we have a chance to redeem ourselves against little USA, a match our press expects us to stroll through. But I’ve been around long enough to know there are no easy games in Pop World Cup, and I respect all opponents, however inexperienced in big games, so I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve brought in veteran star Cheb Khaled for this, arguably Africa’s greatest ever player, hoping his extraordinarily sinuous movement will be too much for the USA, who might well be intimidated by playing at this level. I’m putting my job on the line – if the USA manage to pull off a giant-killing act against us, I will offer my resignation, but I am optimistic of leading my team into the second round.”

Group C Match 6: Which of these tracks do you prefer?

  • USA - Mascott 51%
  • ALGERIA - Cheb Khaled 49%

Total Voters: 61

Poll closes: 13 Apr 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis: This Algerian side is mighty strong, if a little slow to get going at the first whistle: “extraordinarily sinuous movement” the manager called for and the team delivers. The press conferences before the game had some suggesting the US manager was displaying a previously-unsuspected sentimental side, but this may turn out to be an inspired choice. Pop piquancy may be the best answer to Algeria on this form, and it all adds up to an intriguing match.

Coming up: Onwards, onwards to group D, where Germany will be looking for a win to secure a place in the next round, against an already-qualified Ghana team with a 100% record. Will Ghana be resting key players?


  1. 1
    Martin Skidmore on 8 Apr 2010 #

    It’s obviously an easy choice for me, as I am supporting my boy Cheb. Also it’s one of my favourite tracks ever. I do like the USA track, though – it would have won my vote in maybe three-quarters of the matches played so far – so I am concerned our less familiar style of play may struggle to find favour. I hope people at least listen to it all, as I think it keeps getting better.

  2. 2
    jeff w on 8 Apr 2010 #

    And another Poptimists League of Pop veteran debuts on a more global stage. Mind you, as soon as I saw that Martin was managing Algeria I knew Cheb would be stripping off sooner or later. This track is also on my best of the LoP CDs, so I must like it though can’t remember how it goes offhand.

  3. 3
    FC Ljubljana but logged out innit on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Working out the maths here – assuming I win against ENG (otherwise I don’t have a chance!) then a win for USA will definitely put me through. If it’s a draw though, I’d need a higher percentage than ALG. Sorry Martin! I know who I’m going to have to vote for :)

  4. 4
    Pete on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Rightly predicted that Algeria will play the long song game, so brevity was the way to go. Though I do love Cheb Khaled, and a draw would put us both through I think this is an interesting match up. The Algerian track is a grower though and needs a fair few listens so that may play in my favour too. One of the sweeter matches of the tourney perhaps

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 8 Apr 2010 #

    There’s no doubting the skill and passion of the Algerian side but USA seem fresher and more focused on getting the ball into the net. A win for the Yanks for me

  6. 6
    Matt DC on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah I was going to say the USA manager had done a good job of second-guessing Algerian tactics and fielding a side full of simplicity and brevity. Unfortunately its also a bit mimsy and annoying while the Algerian track is sublime, it really does get better as it goes along and is one of the best things I’ve heard this tournament. A victory for mesmerising, patient passing over zippy wing-play.

  7. 7
    mm on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Love the Algerian track, love it.

  8. 8
    Tom on 8 Apr 2010 #

    A delightful early goal from the US striker – a simple passing move crisply executed while the Algerians still look like they’re warming up.

    But they’ve scored too early – for veterans like this Algerian side the first ten yards are in the head and for all their pace the US just can’t keep possession. Four minutes into the Algerian track you’ve forgotten the US one completely – the Africans have equalised and are camped in the American penalty area. Can the USA possibly withstand the pressure?

  9. 9
    ledge on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Reluctant as I am to be such a creature of habit, the US side is playing the kind of game I have long admired, and they’re the first ones to actually make me consider following them full time.

  10. 10
    CarsmileSteve on 8 Apr 2010 #


    USA are through with a win or draw and if they lose and England lose and Slovenia don’t beat the 18% margin

    Algeria are through with a win, as are England, but if both matches are draws there are only FOUR percentage points between them, so that’s going to get pretty gnarly for who is second in the group.

    Slovenia must win and hope the USA don’t win (there are currently only 5 points between SLO and ALG so if this match is a draw but USA are the higher they’re through, if ALG are higher it’ll be every vote counting again!!!)

  11. 11
    koganbot on 8 Apr 2010 #

    The previous time this Algerian eleven competed, back in the Championships League, they had to contend with Bobbie Gentry and My Chemical Romance and the Staples Singers and Fox (!) and Aaviko, and despite the obvious quality of the squad, the long-running slow-burning style didn’t score them enough points. This time they’re facing an American aggregation that feel at a distant from the game, as if it were someone else’s and, while they can gleefully approximate kicking balls and defending goals and the like, the actual doing of such is well beyond them. Not awful to watch, but from my vantage point they’re getting creamed by the Algerians, who cut through them as if they were so much cream.

  12. 12
    koganbot on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Slovenia must win and hope the USA don’t win

    This seems incorrect. If Slovenia and USA win then Slovenia is in second with 4 points to Algeria’s and England’s 3. If Slovenia win and this match draws then it’s a battle of percentages between Slovenia and Algeria for second. If Algeria and Slovenia win it’s a battle of percentages between USA and Slovenia for second. (Assuming that what’s currently posted as the standings and points is correct.)

  13. 13
    jeff w on 9 Apr 2010 #

    Have now dug out the Cheb Khaled track from my pile of CDs and it is a majestic thing. On the other hand, I’m a bit of a sucker for female-fronted twee pop from New York (Chairlift, Au Revoir Simone, etc.) and this pushes all the right buttons. Genuinely torn here.

  14. 14
    tonya on 9 Apr 2010 #

    You want comments, you get comments. I voted for Algeria because the US manager used the wrong “its”.

  15. 15
    Pete on 9 Apr 2010 #


    But I suppose fair.

  16. 16
    CarsmileSteve on 9 Apr 2010 #

    Frank, you’re entirely correct, in all my excitement i’d forgotten to look at how many points the teams had scored already!

  17. 17
    Erithian on 9 Apr 2010 #

    You couldn’t wish for a more diverse pair of playing styles – the US perky and sparky (the string theme reminds me a bit of Secret Affair from back in the day, although they can’t have been influenced by that surely?), Algeria sedate and assured – but maybe a bit too much. The Algerian track has barely started by the time the US track has finished, so their team are out on the pitch stroking it around and thinking about maybe having a shot on goal at some stage, while their opponents are in the dressing room, out of the showers and turning their thoughts to the knockout stage already.

  18. 18
    Birdseed on 12 Apr 2010 #

    Oooooh, such a conflict of ears vs heart for me. The US play excellent, beautiful pop football, the Algerians lumber but they’re so right at the same time, while the US is a fair bit wrong. I may have to log in to two browsers and cross-vote on this one!

  19. 19
    Tatiana Stravinsky on 12 Apr 2010 #

    USA! USA! – that is pure pop sweetness it is! and this is POP world cup. Short, sharp, pop. Algeria is making me rather sad, before it starts picking up. The nice graceful kick from the USA makes the goal here!

  20. 20
    Steve Mannion on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Have to go with ALG for a sound that must be unique in this tournament and an emotional performance brimming with passion but steady as a ship. I’ve found much to enjoy with both of USA’s previous efforts but the back-to-basics approach here does little for me. Having a much harder time deciding who I’d rather join Algeria in the 2nd round (I voted for them twice so feel it’s deserved) but probably the Americans and their wide-ass I mean wise-ass dimensions.

  21. 21
    Tim on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Last call for votes in this group!

  22. 22
    Tim on 14 Apr 2010 #

    As close as close can be – just one vote in it, honours even.

  23. 23
    Tom on 14 Apr 2010 #

    A late surge of votes for Mascott did for Algeria I fear. Very sorry to see them go – I think they stuck to their principles throughout and the manager’s expertise was an asset to the tournament. Commiserations to England too – that tactical misstep in the first game cost them very dear in the end.

    Congratulations to USA, who had a certain amount of luck to run into an underpowered England but then rode it well to top the group – they’re a formidable opponent. And big up Slovenia, written off after the first game by many but they richly deserve a place in the last 16.

  24. 24
    Lex on 14 Apr 2010 #

    AARGH this match is over already? Haven’t they, like, just gone up? I’d have voted for ALG, easily, not even a contest. Kid Sister apart I must express some intense disapproval of the USA manager’s fielding strategy.

  25. 25
    Tom on 14 Apr 2010 #

    The voting time was reduced to 6 days not 7 because a) bank holiday monday and b) the PWC has a week-long break starting this Friday.

    (There WILL be radically trunctated voting times in some of the knockout rounds – I think the quarter-finals will need to be 3 days so people know if they’re through or not.)

  26. 26
    Matt DC on 14 Apr 2010 #

    Can’t we have longer quarter finals with everyone advised to plan for victory?

  27. 27
    Tom on 14 Apr 2010 #

    I’ll see what we can do – we’re already going to run the semis on that basis, but there all the tracks get used.

  28. 28
    Martin Skidmore on 16 Apr 2010 #

    Ah, disappointing to go out on goal difference – I am convinced I was faced with England’s only good performance in the group, which is what cost me.

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