from Kazakhstan to Croatia, Andorra and
England in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers: half of all three teams' Euro 2008 qualifying group have been drawn against each other again for their next outing
. Their new opponents include Ukraine, Belarus, and of course the reluctant homeland of Mr Sagdiyev. (With dozens of Staines Town fans dressing as Sasha Baron Cohen's other character Ali G
last week to cheer their team to a shock FA Cup win over Stockport County, expect a run on the moustache market before the Kazakhs arrive at Wembley.)
It'll mean another guaranteed encounter for British comedian Russell Brand with the 'terrifyingly simplistic call-and-response mantra
' that put the wind up him
at Wednesday night's game - Brand thinks of it as 'a needlessly fascistic form of chanting
', and the Gazette
suspects it knows it better as 'U boj, u boj, za narod svoj!
Chances are, it'll also mean another excuse for the Croatian team to put three goals past an overrated western-European rival, and increase their chances to have another verse of the country's unofficial footballing anthem Neka pati koga smeta
named after them.
Baruni's 9-year-old hit has been dusted down for every tournament since 1998, when their manager Miroslav Rus wrote the song to celebrate Croatia's World Cup run where the Vatreni
(including one Slaven Bilić
) knocked Germany out 3-0 in the quarter-finals. Or as they remembered it:
'Rekli su nam da smo spori, pa su Njemce poslali
A mi smo im dali tricu, pa su kući otišli
('They said we were slow, so they sent the Germans
But we scored three against them and they went home
Almost a decade later, the song has become a rather less self-deprecating equivalent of England's Three Lions
- although the latter never had occasion to metamorphose into a handball version
(Croatia took gold in the 2003 World Championships), a Davis Cup final anthem, or a tribute to skiing siblings Janica and Ivica Kostelić. As the Gazette
is sure to be reminded, that's probably because England hasn't even been in a position to sing one. Indeed, if a version about 'pa su došli Englezi
' ('so the English came'
) isn't in the works yet, it's only a matter of time.
Literally, 'Neka pati koga smeta
' translates as 'Whosoever it troubles, let him suffer
' - but, football being football, 'F*** you if you're bothered
' might be more like it.
Musicologists could point to 'Neka pati koga smeta
' as the point where Baruni (formed as a neo-tamburica band on the model of Rus's previous project Gazde) cast off the folk waistcoats and crossed whole-heartedly into electrification. For the fans, it's proof that Croatian World Cup campaigns get the anthems they deserve: '98 is legendary on both counts, but Croatia's underwhelming follow-up at World Cup 2002 was accompanied by a just as underwhelming anthem involving pop singers Claudia Beni and Ivana Banfić. 'Hrvatice vas vole
' ('Croatian women love you
') might have lent credence to the saying that football is a continuation of war by other means (insofar as in both cases women kiss men goodbye to go to a far-off country, pray for them, and cry until they come back), but didn't inspire anything more than an early exit in the group stage.
A new generation of players in 2006, and a new generation of music: rapper Nered was brought in to sing 'Srce vatreno
' (Fiery heart
) with the Zaprešić Boys collective. Croatia... well, that's where the theory falls down, since they didn't make it through the group stage then either.
Nonetheless, they'd better have a good one lined up for 2010...
Labels: baruni, croatia, football, music, sport