We are clinging to the hope that the Irish Central website was jesting when it reported that there is a tune by the name of ‘Fairytale of Qatar’ doing the TikTok rounds, its lyrics going something like this:
“They’ve got calves big as cars, they’ve got rivers of Stones; Harry Kane goes right through you and heads for the goal.
“When they first qualified on that cold Wembley, they promised me Grealish was waiting for me.
“He’s handsome, he’s pretty, he plays for Man City, when the crowd finish singing they call out for Shaw.
“Saka was winning, Conor Coady was chillin’, they embody the spirit of old Bobby Moore.
“The boys of Southgate’s England team are sat upon a throne, and the crowd are singing out: ‘It’s coming home’.”
“Germany have a problem in defence – Sule is not world-class, he is the German Harry Maguire.”— Former Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart offending both Niklas Sule and poor Harry all in the one sentence.
Sun not setting on Chesney Hawke’s World Cup just yet
Superstition is quite a common theme in The Sun’s coverage of England’s World Cup campaign, their latest concern on that front the fact that Chesney Hawkes is booked to play in Butlins in Skegness this weekend.
That is a problem because Chesney played his hit-parade-topping tune ‘The One and Only’ at half-time in the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium last Tuesday, before England scored three times in their second half against Wales.
The Sun, then, have decided that Chesney is England’s lucky charm, so they need him to perform at half-time in Sunday’s game against Senegal if they are to progress. So, they’ve launched Operation Sun and Only – they’re going to get him from Skegness to Qatar in time for the game.
Chesney is up for it. “I’ve a long-standing gig arranged at Butlins in Skegness and I don’t want to disappoint my fans there. But as soon as the curtain comes down I’ll start heading back – and if the Sun’s operation goes to plan I’ll be there and, if Fifa let me, I’ll perform again.”
You’ll note a slight issue here – Fifa haven’t actually invited him to perform yet, so he could end up busking outside the stadium.
Hopefully it’ll work out, though, because Chesney had a ball at the Wales game, his highlight getting to meet Declan Rice after. Alas, Rice “initially had no idea who he was”.
“I walked into the changing room and one of the kit men went ‘Chesney Hawkes is outside with your shirt on’,” said Rice. “I was like ‘I don’t know who he is’.”
In fairness, Rice wasn’t born until 1999 ... a whole eight years after ‘The One and Only’ made Chesney famous. Strewth.
“I’m underwhelmed by Declan Rice. There’s a rumour going around that eventually he is going to pass the ball forward in this tournament.”— talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan being quite rude about England’s midfield maestro.
Turkish commentator subbed off in record time
Come the end of the World Cup the list of sackings will be a lengthy one, primarily made up of gaffers whose teams had hardly arrived in Qatar when they were heading home.
Perhaps the most striking (alleged) firing thus far, though, was that of Turkish commentator Alper Bakırcıgil who claims he was taken off state broadcaster TRT’s coverage of the game between Morocco and Canada at half-time.
Why? Because during the first half he mentioned that Turkish legend Hakan Şükür held the record for the fastest goal in World Cup history (scored after 11 seconds against South Korea in 2022).
Nobody disputes this fact, but since leaving Turkey for the United States in 2017, after being charged with insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and being accused of terrorist connections after he moved in to politics, Şükür has fallen in to ‘he who cannot be named’ territory.
Opposition MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was dumbfounded by the episode, asking in parliament, with a large dollop of sarcasm: “From whom did Bakırcıgil get the information that Hakan Şükür scored the fastest goal in the World Cup? Is there an ongoing investigation on this issue? Will your government apply to Fifa to remove the fastest goal statistic of World Cup?”
“He said something the other day about his mum still making his bed – no word of a lie.”— Conor Coady on Jude Bellingham’s gobsmacking revelation. Bless him.
In numbers: 17.7
That’s the percentage possession Japan had in their win over Spain, the lowest figure in a World Cup victory since records began, according to the Opta folk.
“We’d really prefer to talk about their cheese and find their weak spots – the holes – to get the result.”— Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic on being asked ahead of Friday evening’s game against Switzerland if he was worried they’d be facing a side “ticking over with the precision of Swiss watches”. It’s a wonder that Toblerone didn’t get a mention.