Other notable players: Dana Bloomquist, Brendan Deguela, Percy Eskridge, Ogechi Guttuso, Roger Hammers, Olivia Idoni, Natalie Instonenext, Lucas Kukiseso, Gary Maini, Saena Mathash, Steven Ruck, Martin Scallop, Rohit Sharma, Phillip Stings, Rube Tercer, Anatoly Trumper, Peter Vanderpent.
Eddie Barnes was a midfielder on the Zwangzug national football team, and later became the manager of Clube Comercial. A star at Dunboor FC, Barnes competed on the national team from World Cup 35 through World Cup 41 and is a member of the World Cup Hall of Fame.
A native of Arlington, Eddie was not the first Barnes to "play for" the national team; one or the other of his sisters, both passable instrumentalists, generally performed the national anthem before games (actually singing the thing is generally too patriotic for Zwangzug). Also unusual for Zwangzug was growing up watching and caring about football, as Eddie did; the excitement he expected was not present when he joined the team. Still, he was able to appreciate the significance of a victory against Rejistania; playing against the top teams brought out his best. That was never truer than in World Cup 36; with Zwangzug springing upset after upset, Barnes rose to every occasion. In the quarterfinal against the hosts Cafundeu, Barnes assisted on the winning goal and forced a mistakenly-disqualified own goal. It was enough to make him Man of the Match and make him famous in Cafundéu; he was named to the tournament's Best XXIII and signed with Dunboor after the tournament. They would win the title the next season, with Barnes named the league's third-best player despite playing in the offensive midfield, rather than defensively at the national level.
Barnes had made his way back to the defensive midfield and become the team's "idol" by the next season, when he was named second-best in the league despite Dunboor's mild dropoff. He scored his only international goal in Zwangzug's 7-1 demolition of Scotchpinestan during World Cup 38 qualification. By World Cup 39, Barnes' popularity in Dunboor had grown to the point that some fans rooted for Zwangzug as well as Cafundéu. He was part of the the Cafundelense League Best XI that was assembled to take on and defeat the Landau institute, and named second-best in the league for a second time after Dunboor finished second in Season 7. Once again competing as part of a representative team, he scored against Yafor 2 in a friendly match before World Cup 40. Barnes made the second teams-of-the-season for Seasons 8 and 9.
By World Cup 41, Barnes' penchant for rising to the occasion in big games had faded into a penchant for slacking off against weaker teams, and he spent the qualifiers on the bench. He returned to the starting lineup for the proper, but when he was beaten in the midfield to set up Starblaydia's only goal in the first knockout round, it seemed as if an era had ended. It hadn't quite. After his international retirement, Barnes won a second title with Dunboor in his final season there, being named fourth-best player overall. And despite not directly helping Zwangzug to qualify for World Cup 41, Barnes was awarded his country's third Hall of Fame slot.
In some ways, Cafundéu represented relative freedom to Barnes. Seeking to stay there and participate in an organization with as broad a scope and importance to the country as football, Barnes became a tax collector. In Season 16, however, he returned to football as the coach of Clube Comercial, then in the second division. They were promoted that season, and were surprising winners of the State Champions Cup in Season 17. Clube Comercial ultimately finished 13th in Season 17; Barnes was named the league's fifth-best coach. He earned that distinction again after the team's seventh-place finish in season 18. In Season 23, Clube Comercial won the league championship, and Barnes was named coach of the season. The next season, he was ranked second-best coach after Clube Comercial came second in the primeiro turno. Season 26 would see Barnes deemed fifth-best among coaches (''Mercenários'' were third in the regular season).
Andrew Card was a defender on the Zwangzug national football team. With a playing career spanning the team's first era of competition, from World Cup 33 through World Cup 42, Card was captain of the team during its second-place finish in the latter tournament, and played for Joseon FC at the domestic level. What he considered to be tactical innovation earned him a spot in the World Cup Hall of Fame.
A high school valedictorian, Card forewent college in favor of an early start with the national team. He quickly proved himself as offensive-minded for a right-back, scoring the only goal in a defeat of Dance 2 revolution during the World Cup 33 qualifiers. A strategic rule-breaker who was nevertheless concerned for others when the need arose, Card tried to cut down on, or at least move farther forward for, his favored technical fouls after throwing the rules of football out the window prior to World Cup 35. Though it was up to Rube Tercer, then the captain, to hammer out the symmetric details, Zwangzug's new 3-5-3 formation was Card's brainchild.
Card was often uneasy about visiting some of the multiverse's stranger countries, but Daehanjeiguk was more appealing; he signed with Joseon after their first season of play, and they won the title in Season 3. Back in Zwangzug, however, things were uneasy in the clubhouse. While captains and coaches changed, he remained in true charge but was content to let others lead, so long as his formation was the order of the day. Defensive-minded players in a new generation weren't all for it, so Card urged the official team leaders to rely on veteran players rather than bring in new blood. Some dissenters got through anyway; they learned to expect being told to shut up, or risk clipboards flying at their heads.
Card's failed pass to Natalie Instonenext became an own goal for Zwangzug in the first knockout round of World Cup 39. Nevertheless, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the slot Zwangzug had earned for their first seven qualification attempts. His leadership had certainly forged the team, even if his playing ability was unspectacular. The urge to maintain control over the team, with possible help from Han time-dilation technology, drove him back for cup after cup.
By World Cup 42, Card was the last remaining competitor from the Baptism of Fire team, and named captain. Ironically, though, his real power would vanish as soon as he received symbolic power; Saena Mathash enigmatically talked her way on the team before Card could realize she was a goalkeeper. Frustrated, Card retreated from yelling at his teammates to focus on blasting the 1-4-4-2 and trying to encourage the team's newest member without giving false hope. Despite a rough start, Zwangzug eventually made the final. When Deuce Zadora launched a brilliant attack with minutes to play, Card committed one last tactical foul, grudgingly putting the game in Mathash's hands and walking off the field before he could be sent off.
The second act of his career was almost as surprising as the first; he declined a coaching position in Daehanjeiguk in favor of collaborating with Mathash on a rather long-range effort to develop football at the grassroots level in Zwangzug, so that subsequent generations would not be put off by the demolition of the national sporting headquarters. After many years, the unlikely partnership bore fruit with Zwangzug's return to the World Cup.
Patricia Eliot was a defensive midfielder for the Zwangzug national football team. She was the only player to be a typical starter for the entirety of the "second era," World Cups 64 through 69. She played for Canbix Muses and Matthew City Rangers (Northern sunrise islands) domestically. After cycle 80, she was selected to the World Cup Hall of Fame.
Eliot became known as a pugnacious player early on, picking up her first yellow card in the new team's second match, against Petrus Mamilius of Saintland. With Zwangzug's defensive approach not always matching up to more experienced teams, a running joke would be "does any individual have more goals than Eliot has yellow cards?" Yet domestically, she would thrive with Canbix; the Muses were the dominant side at the founding of the 1./, winning the league's first three titles.
During the World Cup 66 cycle, Eliot transferred to the Matthew City Rangers, becoming one of the first foreigners to play in the NSI league. (Her compatriot Joan Gerland would become a crosstown rival with the Matthew City Senators.) Though the Rangers were sometimes overshadowed by their rivals near and far, Eliot's induction into the Hall of Fame was seen in some quarters as a way of returning them to the spotlight. She scored three goals during her career for the national team, and wore the #6 jersey for her entire stint.
Simon Ryne Olson, whose career can almost be summarized by the fact that he had two first names rather than a nice middle one like everyone else, was a forward on the Zwangzug national football team. The team's leading goalscorer, Olson was a genuine talent--though not quite to the degree he thought. He competed on the national team from World Cup 33 through World Cup 39, played for Marienburg United at the domestic level, and was Zwangzug's first nomination to the World Cup Hall of Fame.
A native of the western FTC, Olson recorded the team's first goal during their Baptism of Fire competition. The goal set the tone for years to come; the best player of the team's earliest years, he notched up goal after goal for Zwangzug. In the qualifiers for World Cup 34, Olson managed a stoppage-time goal to give Zwangzug a win against Qazox and complete a hat trick. He'd repeat the feat later in the campaign, against St pauls isle, as part of a 5-2 victory to clinch Zwangzug's first qualification. Olson also scored Zwangzug's first goal of the World Cup proper, paving the way for a 1-0 victory over Demot. Meanwhile, he'd signed with Marienburg United, becoming one of the first Zwangzugians to play abroad.
That experience would quickly come in handy, as Zwangzug were drawn against St samuel in the World Cup 35 qualifiers. By then the "darling of the St Samuel King's division", Olson scored both of each game's goals, refraining from celebrating the second out of respect for his club. His attack would continue unabated in the oncoming tournaments; he was named to the Best XXIII of World Cup 36. The finals of World Cup 37 provided the stage for yet another hat trick against the hosts Adihan, the later two goals coming in the final quarter-hour to help with a comeback victory. In the semifinals of the tournament, he scored Zwangzug's first (and the initial team's only) kick from the penalty mark. It turned out, in fact, that Olson had managed another achievement in World Cup 37; when Zwangzug clinched their fourth qualification, he was awarded their first Hall of Fame spot. This was not announced, however, until his retirement after World Cup 39.
At this point, one should consider several pertinent facts about the Zwangzug team. As part of the Baptism of Fire class, Olson made his debut in a time when football was not very popular in the country. There were relatively few players coming along to challenge him for a position on the team; training at high altitudes stressed endurance and meant that substitutions were relatively rare even when Zwangzug had a full roster. Furthermore, the team's unfamiliarity with normal football tactics meant that they were forced to rely on their own stereotypes about different positions' highly rigid demands; center forwards like Olson were expected to contribute the bulk of the goals. With this in mind, and Hanlon's razor close at hand, please accept that Olson scored ninety-one international goals and move along. Despite resenting missed opportunities in countries that cared more about football, Olson stuck with a once-hapless team and helped lead them to success. While at his worst, his arrogance drove a wedge between him and his teammates, at his best he was fiercely loyal to club and country alike.
Martina Ruan was an attacking midfielder for the Zwangzug national football team during its "second era," from World Cup 64 through 69. The captain in cycles 67-69, Ruan represented FTC United at club level. After cycle 80, she was selected to the World Cup Hall of Fame.
The daughter of a Ianix father and Peridune mother, Ruan represented both sides of the FTC with equal pride (and even wore the baseball caps of both the metropolis' teams). She was an early advocate of diversifying the country's home games beyond Wayr Stadium, which eventually came to pass in the second half of World Cup 65 qualifiers. Ruan was also outspokenly proud of Zwangzug and all its eccentricities, wanting to show them off rather than be just another country. During Cup of Harmony 57 (post WC-65), she was promoted to the starting XI, swapping her #14 for a #10.
Upon Zwangzug's return to the proper in World Cup 66, Ruan scored the new team's first goal in the finals, in a 2-1 defeat to Alasdair I Frosticus on Matchday One. In World Cup 67, she would succeed Brett Chrowder as captain, becoming the first woman to wear the armband for the national team. The ensuing responsibility of playing nearly every game was something she welcomed, and she could occasionally coax strong performances out of her domestic teammate Arlo Rais-Sonnen.
Despite a strong group performance in the World Cup 68 qualifiers, Zwangzug floundered in the playoffs, and as a result went to the Cup of Harmony in Kinitaria while that nation was in severe domestic turmoil. Despite the precarious situation, Ruan thought little of rattling off the national team's history to teammate Sara Hale-Barnard, and ran off after Zwangzug's quick elimination as if to get involved in the Kinitar crisis. Shula Bachchan-Laum would take the initiative of writing up a nomination for Ruan for the "Cup of Harmony XI;" though the all-star team in question never materialized, those efforts at tracking Ruan down did result in her safe return in time for the ninth 1./ season. At the helm of the "Oxen," she led FTC United from ninth place the previous season to a tie for second.
World Cup 69 saw the arrival of Earental Reaven Laynee as the manager of the team. While laboring to understand her, Martina continued to try to lead the team on the field. At the end of the qualifiers, however, she confused many reporters by expressing her disappointment about Zwangzug's performance, genuinely believing that they had failed to qualify. Only after a long ramble did she realize that Zwangzug had in fact made the playoffs, a mistake she attributed to not remembering that the World Cup Committee (and almost everywhere else) award three points for a win, in contrast to Zwangzug's idiosyncratic 1-.5-0 system. Ruan took full responsibility for the misunderstanding, despite skepticism that maybe Laynee didn't know what she was talking about in any language.
Ruan scored 18 goals for the national team. Due to cultural factors in Zwangzug influencing the relationship between gender and position, as well as changing tactics and diversity over time, this is still the record for Zwangzug women. She was succeeded by Denise Palss as captain of the Oxen when the 1./ returned from hiatus.
Dana Bloomquist was a defender on the Zwangzug national team in World Cups 38-39 as well as 42. After being cut the first time around, she enjoyed a domestic career in Turks' Club and then Marquez-Onwere in Candelaria And Marquez; her consistency earned her a return to the national side.
On Matchday 24 of season XXIII, Bloomquist bizarrely scored at both ends, though Turks Club salvaged the victory. Three games later she would tally in the correct net. In the end-of-season broadcasts, she would take the brunt of some objectifying commentary from pundit Rich Stevens. The following season she scored one goal, and Turks Club fans named her their player of the season.
After rejoining the national side, she transferred to Marquez-Onwere. Season XXXII saw her score an own goal in minute 90+3 of the seventh matchday. Bloomquist was named captain for season XXXII, where she scored another goal, and ended her career by lifting the CMS cup.
A strong all-around athlete with good field coverage, Deguela played baseball through his first two years of college, then discovered foosball. He was part of the generation that became "bandwagon" fans during Zwangzug's World Cup 36 semifinal run and stuck with it, being recruited by coach Doodlypants Mcgimpy. Deguela's skills would be praised by Dancougarite pundits during World Cup 41. He scored six goals during his national team career.
Off the field, he was related to Carlito Digüella, a contemporary midfielder for Deportivo Peralta in Aguazul. He was also close friends with domestic teammate Pierre Sebard; they would become brothers-in-law when Sebard married Brendan's sister Audrey. They were in turn the parents of Sara, Mia, Tara, Rae, Audrey Jr., and Austin Sebard-Deguela.
Percy Eskridge was a midfielder on the Zwangzug national football team in World Cup cycles 68 and 69. He played for Spenson Suburbia at domestic level, and would later become manager of Ephesian FC. Unfortunately, his spirited leadership in the football world would be marred by his later life, as his anti-government "resistance" sentiment gave way to violence in the Anniversary Incident.
Eskridge's tenure on the national team was relatively sedate; he did not crack the starting lineup, although he did engage in speculation about the potential for werewolves. After World Cup 69, Zwangzug temporarily ceased to exist; they returned later, with various cities having been plagued by bizarre, and potentially board game-related, crises. Accusations of lycantrophy ran high in the FTC; anti-establishment "resistance" feeling was common in Zwischen, and Eskridge was praised as prophetic. Though Spenson were only thirteeth in Season 11 (the first after the hiatus), he became an icon among fans. By season 13, Spenson were qualifying for UICA play. A season later, he would move to Zwischen and become a coach. Season 15 saw Ephesian come fourth, defeating Spenson on the final day but still trailing them on goal difference.
On what may have been the tenth anniversary of Zwangzug's emergence into the international community (time dilation is hard), a group of seven members of Parliament began a furtive series of missions that pitted resistance members fighting to expose the government's secrets against spies battling to preserve them. Ultimately, the "spies" prevailed, though further developments during later World Baseball Classics would see some of the resistance's hopes of transparency realized as well. Things came to a head at the landmark Ziggurat, where the spies took two of the resistance parliamentarians captive. Eskridge got wind of the plot in time to try to rescue them, alongside Javi, a mysterious ally from the Shell Shock Troop Clan. Despite the tense circumstances, Javi chose to save the life of loyalist representative Virginia Tosla; Eskridge, furious at what he saw as a betrayal, retaliated by murdering Javi with a crossbow. He then reset the bomb that had been disabled by the spies, hoping to single-handedly detonate the Ziggurat. However, this was identified as a threat to the capital by the sophisticated Project Zeitnot technology, which had the effect of dumping him back in time so that it, and he, exploded simultaneously with the Lilliputian Freedom Fighters terrorist attack of some time prior. (The existence of this time-altering technology, of course, was one of the secrets the loyalists were trying to protect.)
The football federation of Zwangzug wishes to assure you that we respect the Narrative Desensitization Quota and that the vast majority of our players will not have silly plotlines like this, but every once in a while, stuff happens.
Ogechukwukama "Ogechi" Guttuso was a defensive midfielder for the Zwangzug national football team during Eagles Cup 6, which Zwangzug won. Domestically, she played for the Bassabook Old Boys and was part of the team that went undefeated in season 16, before reaching the Champions' Cup 64 final.
Guttuso was born in Ossidiacqua, but her family fled the country's second timewall crisis when she was young. Many Rushmori nations opened their doors to Acquan migrants, but the Guttusos migrated farther afield; despite the capital's relative hostility to timewall-centric events, they found welcome in Beldere District, near Nuel. There, Guttuso met a young native Zwangzugian named Olivia Idoni, who would turn out to be an impressive midfield partner all the way to the national team.
Bassabook surged from eighth place in season 14 to win the title the next year, with Guttuso and Idoni at the heart of their midfield. The following season, they went undefeated, which is still without equal in 1./ history. While winning a third title in the ensuing season, they made it to the final of Champions' Cup 64, but lost to Starling, who had had quite a title campaign of their own in Nephara.
Although Zwangzug's national team was not competing at WCC level, they got invited to the Eagles Club, and Guttuso became a starter. Though usually taciturn about her childhood, she proved a leader in the clubhouse, able to motivate teammates old and new. She scored a goal in the quarterfinal against Chromatika, and, in the final against Osarius, she would assist Idoni on the winner in extra time. While the timing of her career did not allow her to participate in WCC-sanctioned tournaments, she remains a historic figure in the 1./ and a witness to the diversity of the national team.
Roger Hammers was a midfielder on the Zwangzug national football team from Baptism of Fire 25 (pre-World Cup 33) through World Cup 37. Domestically, he played for Seojang.
Hammers hailed from the western FTC. He was usually in the center of the midfield right-left as well as forward-back, which was difficult in the 3-4-3 formation that Zwangzug first played. Such movement away from the center eventually forced him to admit that he had as many unique quirks as anybody else (perfect pitch, for one), because if he was truly average, that would be exceptionally strange. (It made sense that late at night.) He would, however, thrive in the center of the midfield "X" once the national team adopted that formation. He was the first foreigner to score a hat trick in the Daehanjeiguk league.
In the World Cup 37 semifinal, Zwangzug and Demot went to a penalty shootout. Hammers would assist his longtime midfield comrade, Jacob Barons, on an insightful "sing really loudly and distract your opponents" strategy. The fact that one penalty was indeed missed is still a celebrated moral victory in Zwangzug's sporting history.
Olivia Idoni was an attacking midfielder for the Zwangzug national football team during Eagles Cup 6, which Zwangzug won. Domestically, she played for the Bassabook Old Boys and was part of the team that went undefeated in season 16, before reaching the Champions' Cup 64 final.
Idoni grew up in a religiously conservative "first-generation" city near Nuel, in Beldere District. Despite her family's lack of technological connectivity, her worldview broadened when refugees from the second Ossidiacqua crisis moved there, finding Beldere's culture much more welcoming than some of the larger cities. One of those, Ogechi Guttuso, would turn out to be a phenomenal midfield partner with Idoni, from the playground to the national team.
The irony of having two "young girls" at the heart of the Bassabook midfield was not lost on fans or pundits, but the Old Boys would surge from eighth to first place in season 15, followed by an undefeated 16th campaign; this achievement remains unique in 1./ history. The following season, they would not only win another title, but become the first Zwangzug side to make it to the final of the Champions' Cup, where they fell to the narratively-gifted Starling side of Nephara.
Though Zwangzug's national team had yet to return to World Cup competition after World Cup 69, they were nevertheless invited to the sixth Eagles Cup. Idoni would be named a starter, and despite the long histories of the teams Zwangzug matched up against, they more than held their own. In extra time of the final against Osarius, Idoni scored the winning goal on--what else--a Guttuso pass, one of three goals she notched overall in the campaign.
Olivia's brother, Tim, was a member of the Arlington Collective. While the timing of her career did not allow her to participate in WCC-sanctioned tournaments, she remains a historic figure in the 1./.
Natalie Instonenext was a defender for the Zwangzug national football team in World Cups 37-41. Domestically, she played for Port of Clotaire of Candelaria And Marquez.
In season XXVII, she was named defender of the season in the CMSC, succeeding her Clotaire teammate Tom Redway and emerging as a studious tactician as well as a vocal leader in the clubhouse. (This included texting Redway to confirm his whereabouts during an excursion involving a gnome, one of many supernatural adventures censored from the human-centric Candelariasian press.) At the national team level, however, she was much quieter, plagued by insecurities about whether she deserved to speak out, and easily distracted by the tiresome job of being a Zwangzug center-back.
Instonenext became Clotaire's captain in season XXVIII; in just her second game, she scored a first-minute goal against Castillo FC. She would record two other goals in her domestic career, and was the club's fans' player of the season in both seasons XXVII and XXVIII.
Lucas Kukiseso was a midfielder on the Zwangzug national football team in World Cup cycles 80 and 82-84. Domestically, he played for Spenson Suburbia. He was the captain of the World Cup 84 and IAC 9 team, and one of the Galacticos XI in the post-IFCF 1 cycle.
Kukiseso learned Algebraic English as his native dialect (like most Zwangzugians, he would default to Descriptive in international conversations), as well as the language isolate Duodesi from his grandmother. Known for his intelligent play, he was named a regular starter when the "third generation" team formed for World Cup 80. In the final minutes of a 4-0 defeat to HUElavia near the midpoint of the qualifiers, he was concussed and gave fans as well as his captain a scare. He came to, however, with no visible signs of injury other than foreign accent syndrome; he dropped his Rs in the "northeastern" style associated with Arlington and Zwischen, and even slurred his consonants like a native Picksall Islander. (The team actually had one of those, reserve goalkeeper Kim Higden, who appreciated having someone to "natively" converse with.) By the end of qualifiers, his fluke condition had gone away on its own.
Kukiseso had a variety of off-field interests, from modding video games to better demonstrate the ability of equine footballers to quoting the poetry of Isaac, Prince Imperial of the Holy Empire. During World Cup 83, broadcaster Jaina McHammel mentioned him as a likely candidate to succeed Martin Scallop as captain. Despite the criticism she faced from booth partner Emmylou Brighton, this proved to be prescient on McHammel's part, as Kukiseso took up the armband for World Cup 84. His leadership took the form of cautiously worrying whether Zwangzug's Jewish residents ought to observe Hanukkah as a major festival and/or invite their counterparts of other or no faiths to join them, much to the annoyance of teammates who were less concerned about cultural appropriation.
As his international career wound down, he was honored as one of the Galacticos XI by KarlingSport in recognition of his multifaceted talents during cycle 75. He scored nine goals in his tenure on the national team. He continued playing for Spenson, and was named to the Galacticos long list in cycle 76.
Gary Maini was a forward for the Zwangzug national football team in World Cups 37-41. Domestically, he played for Albrecht Turkish of Candelaria And Marquez.
Maini's unselfish attacking play and willingness to pass rather than shoot made him a clear contrast to Simon Ryne Olson early in his national team career, and later Trent Gerson. His starkest friendly rivalry, however, would be with Peter Vanderpent of crosstown Albrecht FC. In season XXVI, Maini's 19 goals earned him the Golden Boot; while the "Millermen"'s title chase fell just short, he was a key player and swept the Players' Player, Sportswriters' Player, Foreigner, and Forward of the season awards. In season XXVII, he scored 14 goals as Turkish did win the title; the following campaign he would rack up 15 and set up plenty from Samuel Taha. Turkish were a very well-rounded side in season XXIX, winning both the league and the third Champions Cup, but he still made a case for being considered "probably...the key man" with ten goals. He would score forty-two for the national team.
Saena Mathash was a goalkeeper on the Zwangzug national football team during World Cup 42. Domestically, she played for Namiri Forest.
Like Zwangzug as a whole, the Namiri region became much more avid about football during the national team's semifinal run in World Cup 36. Even more than the rest of the country, the Namirites were impressed by the environmentalist/left-wing tactics of haimaidu's Errinundera and Cassie Lee's Ariddia, while also being cognizant of how more defensively-minded players might bring welcome traits to their nation. Forest, in Guariday, adopted an unrelenting defensive, "green" outlook when they began to play in the MUFN. (The larger 1./ would not exist until twenty-four cycles later. By then Sharag, the "gateway to the southwest," had given rise to Namiri Independent. In their tendency to a "neutral" tactics and a more universalist image, they might well be said to be closer heirs of Mathash's legacy than the Guariday club, but identifying her with them too far is anachronistic.)
Mathash, though a child then, was one of many caught up in the dreams of the young team. By World Cup 42, she was Miranda Chen's backup at Forest. Talking her way onto the national team would require some subtlety about her true aims (a task at which Luke Mandell had failed three cycles prior), but she was able to in turn convince Doodlypants Mcgimpy and Andrew Card that defensive "specialization" would help the team. The latter, who had newly been appointed captain, was furious once he realized the truth. An opening loss to microstate An blascaod mor, followed by a draw against unheralded Kosovoe, did little to help matters.
Yet as Card attempted to strike a balance between bolstering Mathash's confidence and lowering her expectations, she and the team quickly found their footing. Zwangzug went undefeated the rest of the qualifiers, topped Group F in the proper, and reached the final at the Obelisco Monumental. With minutes remaining in a tied game, Mathash proved she'd made a difference in dramatic if unexpected fashion; Card's tactical foul against an obvious Deuce Zadora goalscoring opportunity put the game in her hands, but Kiso Night would convert the penalty for Valanora's title.
The Zwangzug teammates' unlikely trust led to a further camaraderie; Mathash and Card would partner to revitalize football at the grassroots level, as it once had been in Namiri, after the demolition of the national sporting headquarters. Though it took years, Zwangzug did return to the World Cup, and have boasted legal formations ever since.
Ruck was the youngest child of a large family, and his birth parents divorced when he was a year old. He would adopt the surname of his mother's second husband, Isaac Ruck, who he always considered his father figure. This contributed to the awkwardness of his relationship with his older brother, Ulysses Stael, who was a teammate of his for the national team's first two cycles.
In World Cup 39, Ruck was surprised to be named the captain upon the retirement of Jacob Barons; his longevity of service and willingness to not rock the boat while letting the team's oddball "tacticians" do their own thing surely played into this. He scored four goals for the national team.
He coached IYC Kaharan of Yafor 2 for one season, during which they finished an astonishing third, with excellent performances from their midfield in particular. He would be further astonished to be approached as the midfield coach for the Golden Wolves.
Martin Scallop was a defender on the Zwangzug national football team in World Cup cycles 80, 82, and 83. Domestically, he played for Keppal Cosmos. He was the captain of the World Cup 83 team, and named to the "team of the qualifiers" for World Cup 80.
Scallop was a regular starter when the "third generation" team reconstituted for World Cup 80. He was not afraid to toot his own horn, recognizing that in media around the world, defenders often find it more difficult than attacking players to make headlines. He would go on to assert the "law of conservation of quantification"--that because there are more defenders than forwards on most teams, they more easily blend into a unit and have their contributions harder to distinguish. (Goalkeepers, being usually one to a team, form the "discontinuity corollary" to this law.) Despite, or perhaps because of, this self-awareness, he was one of two defenders named to the reserve all-star team among nations that did not qualify, alongside Jai Mauryan of The Sherpa Empire.
Zwangzug were absent from cycle 81, but Scallop and the team returned in cycle 82. In the following cycle, he was named captain, succeeding Kendra Jover. Despite concerns that the federation would be uncreative enough to nominate him yet again, he was instead forced to deal with the talent and attitude problems of fellow defender Sydney Stefred. Zwangzug qualified for the proper, after which Scallop retired from international play, having scored five goals for the national team. He would continue to expound "Scallop's law" and its applications to the international transfer market.
Rohit Sharma was a forward on the Zwangzug national football team from World Cup 40 through 42. Domestically, he played for Namiri Forest and Chelmar FC.
Namiri Forest were and are a club as proud of their unrelenting defensive style as of their environmentalism, which is to say, extremely proud. They traditionally play a (1)-6-3-1, with Sharma the lone striker up front. The adjustment to the international scene (to say nothing of Zwangzug's eccentricties) took some time, though many identity-politics conscious journalists cut him some slack, not wanting to offend the team's first ethnically Namirite player. (Many others would follow in his cleats, both in the short and long term.)
After his first cycle, Sharma would transfer to Yafor 2, which shared both a cultural history and a penchant for defense with the Namiri region. In Chelmar he broke several scoring records. After the season's first "triad" he was second in the LIDYT with 13 goals. In four games in a tour of the Cafundelense league, he scored two hat-tricks, and added another such performance against Uharan FC in the league.
Sharma was similarly prolific on the international level, recording a hat-trick against Dancougar in the World Cup 41 group stage, and another against the Golden Wolves in the second round of World Cup 42. He finished his international career with 35 goals.
Stings hailed from the eastern FTC, which during Zwangzug's early years in the international scene was known for its relative levels of crime almost as much as its impenetrable dialect. His lower-class background (by socialist standards, anyway) may have influenced his tendency for physical, relentless play; more positively, he was gifted with lots of speed. He benefited from the assists (and possibly off-field affection, but that storyline never really went anywhere) of Yul Maughum, a fellow east FTC-based forward who was significantly more slow-footed and well-off.
Upon his transfer to IYC Uharan, he reverted to his foul-heavy ways. Aging and declining in speed, he was benched from the starting XI in World Cup 39. The first matchday of the proper, however, would see him dazzle as a substitute; with Alasdair I Frosticus leading 2-1, he came on and scored two goals in the final ten minutes to secure a 3-2 win for Zwangzug. The performance was hailed in Guillermo B. Yeatses' "Towards the Final Whistle." Having matured enough to foul slightly less often, Stings returned to the starting lineup for World Cup 40, finishing his international career with 83 goals.
Rube Tercer was a defender on the Zwangzug national football team. The side's first captain, he played internationally from the Baptism of Fire preceding World Cup 33 through World Cup 35.
Tercer could be eloquent and kind to teammates and opponents alike, though his idealistic attitudes became fairly nauseating to a great deal of the team. During Zwangzug's first qualifying campaign, he attempted to come to terms with the multiverse and its confusing history, which did not always make a lot of sense to the mostly-isolationist nation. He was also a deep admirer both of Ariddia's socialism and successful football team, and found he had much in common with Hannah Angstrom, Zwangzug's ambassador there; they would eventually marry after his playing career.
With the nominal "manager" a not-very-smart robot, it would fall to Tercer to creatively lead team strategy. Prior to World Cup 35, he would iron out the details of the highly symmetric, if audacious, 3-2-1-2-3 formation that became the team's new trademark. The early stages of Zwangzug's post-isolationist era were fairly anti-theist by the later standards of the secular state, and Tercer kept his Lutheran faith fairly quiet from the team. He admired Jacob Barons' serious-minded religiosity, however, and wound up choosing him as his successor in the armband.
Anatoly Trumper was a goalkeeper on the Zwangzug national football team in World Cups 33 and 34.
Some of the early team's history was sketchy and nebulous at the time due to football's relative unpopularity in the country, and ensuing events did little to clarify. From what can be plausibly ascertained:
-he was fairly idealistic and opposed to corporate sponsorship in sports; he may have taken steps to prevent the team's first (robotic) coach from having naming rights sold to a company, though this is also likely to have been a governmental decision
-he could be very competitive and take defeat hard; though Andrew was younger than him and the rest of the team, the latter was somewhat protective of him even from the Baptism of Fire
-he was into fractals before they were cool, and also wore glasses
-his nerves were rattled by a 4-0 defeat to Squornshelous in the WC34 qualifiers, though he performed admirably against Demot on Matchday One in the proper
-Zwangzug were first-time qualifiers in that tournament, and arguably overachieved, topping the group after two days
-the tournament was hosted by Alasdair I Frosticus and Ariddia, using finicky and poorly-tested software provided by Zwangzugian programmers/broadcasters
-while some Grumpy Old Fogeys were rightly outsourcing technical blame to Zwangzug, others were storming off the international scene (even if temporarily)
-rumors of the Oneiromancer and the Glimmung were higher-than-average in the Dreamed Realm during this time
-Zwangzug lost 4-0 to Cafundéu and were eliminated on Matchday Three
-Card and Rube Tercer would unveil the 3-2-1-2-3 formation the next cycle.
In the interests of full disclosure, it should also be noted that:
-Aguazul's first qualification to the World Cup proper occurred during (Western) Easter in The Holy Empire sixteen cycles later, and coincided with some interdimensional "spring cleaning"
-the partnership forged by Andrew and Saena Mathash would ultimately lead to Zwangzug's return to the World Cup in cycle 64.
Some sacrifices have a way of leading to unexpected victories.
Vanderpent was one of the leading players of the "bandwagon" generation that followed Zwangzug's unexpected WC36 semifinal run; many of his fellow young starters would join him in the up-and-coming CMSC. A gifted spatial thinker, he was usually aware of the correct position to be in and almost as frequently able to get there. In season XXVI, he scored 17 goals, second only to his compatriot and crosstown rival Gary Maini. He would come second in the Players' Player of the Season and Foreigner of the Season votes, hailed for both his positioning and his ability to unify the "Scorpions" clubhouse. The following season, he would weather criticism of his weight, perhaps spurred by the celebrated kebabs of Albrecht; his 16 goals would be joint-third in the league. Though mostly content to let his results speak for him, he could occasionally be seen trying to calm tensions at the national team level as well.
In season XXVIII, Vanderpent was the subject of some controversy in the early days of the Champions' Cup; against United Trilan of Kura-pelland, he appeared to wear fake plastic pointy ears in an effort to distract Kilu Shu of Valanora. His league fom would continue unabated, with a hat trick against KT Hotspur on Matchday 15, and then four goals against Highland Park of Acapais. In the 92nd minute of the final matchday, he scored his eighteenth goal of the season to tie for the golden boot. Vanderpent was second in the Sportswriters' Player and Forward of the Season ballots, both to Careca of Marquez-Onwere.
Season XXIX would be Vanderpent's last as a professional. His sixteen goals were second in the league, and he was second in the Foreigner of the Season category to Espy va Drake. He was also acclaimed as the Forward and Sportswriters' Player of the Season; despite Albrecht's disappointing second half, he continued to win favor from the pundits.
Vanderpent scored 61 goals for the national team. After his playing career, he is believed to have attempted to start his own kebab store in Zwischen, but the capital's difficult geography (and/or the somewhat-surreal "tappers" phenomena) made it poorly-trafficked. His replica kits continued to be popular among the youth of Albrecht.