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What's in a Name?

The latest edition of FIFA Magazine has a wonderful section about national team nicknames. We all know Italy is the Azzurri, Mexico is El Tri, South Africa is Bafana Bafana and Australia is the Socceroos, but some of the smallest countries provide the most colorful monikers. Here are some of my favorites:

Bhutan: Yellow Dragons
Iraq: Osod Al Rafideen (Lions of Two Rivers)
North Korea: Chollima (ancient horse)
Philippines: Azkals (Stray Dogs)
Yemen: Al Yemen al Saeed (Happy Yemen)
Benin: les Ecureuils (Squirrels)
Comoros: les Coelecantes (prehistoric fish)
Djibouti: les Riverains de la Mer Rouge (Young Red Sea)
Egypt: Pharaohs
Equatorial Guinea: la Nzalang Nacional (National Lightning)
Ethiopia: Walyas (wild goat)
Mauritius: Club M or les Dodos (dodo bird)
Anguilla: Soccer Dolphins
Bahamas: Rake and Scrape Boys
Grenada: Spice Boys
Azerbaijan: Odlar Yurdu Komandasi (Team from Land of Fire)
Kazakhstan: Kazakhstanskie barsy (Snow Leopards)
And of course, San Marino: le Serenissima (Most Serene)

By Steve Goff  |  April 17, 2007; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  World  
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Cute nicknames, for sure. However, I'd argue with the translation of "Les Coelecantes" as "prehistoric fish." The Coelacanth *is* an ancient fish that was thought to be extinct until a specimen was caught in the 1930s. By most measures it's older than the dinosaurs.

So the nickname is kinda like "The Tigers" or "The Dolphins"; it's "The Coelacanths". Odd? Definitely. I'd hate to see their logo. That's one ugly fish!!

Posted by: Beaker | April 17, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

All very interesting, but none hold a candle to the most interesting and clever nickname in the world - the USMNT. Does it get any better?

Posted by: KDB | April 17, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The Nats!

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Yanks

Posted by: DC United Fan | April 17, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Or the Conquistadors, for all the people and countries that we have conquered throughout our history.

Posted by: DC United Fan | April 17, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

And suddenly the conversation turns to politics...


Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

What happened to this new soccer stadium.

Posted by: Speaking of Politics | April 17, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | April 17, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse


(just one, lower case)

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm partial to Cameroon - "Indomitable Lions". It is a wonder they ever lose ...

Posted by: tmc | April 17, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I favor Los Imperialistas. But Conquistadores works for me too. I'm no fan of US foreign policy, esp. when it comes to Central America, but think of all the added insult to go into a place like Saprissa or even Azteca with a nickname like that and to come out with a win.

As someone smart once wrote, history occurs first time as tragedy and second time as farce :)

Posted by: Mark | April 17, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Philippines Stray Dogs??! Was cockroaches already taken? Ha!

African countries have the best nicknames - added to the above list, I love Angola (Palancas Negras, or Black Antelopes) and Ghana (Black Stars). Then there's the Low-Ubangui Fawns of CAR (??)

Posted by: Kev | April 17, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Best club names?

I offer...

Hearts of Oak (Ghana)

Runner-Up: Instant Dict (Hong Kong)

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

fyi, Instant Dict is now known as Double Flower

Posted by: Goff | April 17, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Djibouti is not nicknamed "Shake"?

Posted by: KC and the Sunshine Band | April 17, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Best club names?

I like The Strongest FC of Bolivia

Posted by: Kev | April 17, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I believe it was Senegal that are the Teranga Lions, which sounds really fierce and all until you realize that "teranga" is translated to mean "hospitality"

Posted by: I-66 | April 17, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Hearts of Oak should probably take this one, but I've always been a fan of the name of Argentina's "Newell's Old Boys" of Rosario. I believe the club is named after its former coach, Newell (an Englishman), who taught at the English school in Rosario. Plus Dynamo Kiev always seemed bad ass. Red Star Belgrade too.

Certainly, no MLS team belongs on this list (with the long list of atrocious names in the league).

Posted by: tmc | April 17, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

KC - nicely done!

Posted by: JSF | April 17, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

A certain Mr. Brother needs to visit Benin and take on the squirrels!

Posted by: ff | April 17, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh NO!, not the Yanks thing again.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | April 18, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I think the US men's team should be called the White Buffalo. It has some folkloric resonance.

Posted by: Zach | April 18, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

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