Anagram Derbies

My inspiration jumps from topic to topic–don’t know how or at what point I’ll talk about ongoings in my normal sport. Until such occasion, look at…

A week and a day ago there was an exciting matchup between Netherlands and Denmark in the Euro 2012 tournament. Did I get excited to see the strong Dutch team, or because Denmark pulled an upset? Well…no…

I just liked the fact that NED-DEN in the scoreboard graphic was an anagram.

So, I set off to see what other FIFA-recognized anagram matchups there have been in history. It turns out that NED versus DEN is the most frequently-played rivalry of this sort. Saturday was the teams’ 30th meeting, and the Netherlands (despite losing) still lead the all-time series with 10 wins, 12 draws, and 8 losses. They have scored 58 to Denmark’s 41 in these meetings.

Next we have IDN versus IND. Indonesia have won 9 matches of 17, there have been 2 draws, and India have won 6. Indonesia have scored 35, India 23.

It’s a close matchup between ANG and NGA. Two wins each for Angola and Nigeria, with six draws. 7 goals for Angola, 8 for Nigeria.

GER and GRE have met eight times…so far, as Germany and Greece play on Friday in the quarterfinals! Germany have five wins and three draws so far, scoring 17 to Greece’s 7.

Another close series between USA and AUStralia. One win, one draw, and one loss in their three meetings. USA has scored 3 and Australia 2.

There was only one match between BRU and BUR. Brunei defeated Burma (now MYAnmar) 3-2 on May 29, 1983.

Things weren’t so close when ARM met MAR. Morocco defeated Armenia 6-0 on January 17, 1996.

What about more than two teams at a time? This is possible! We have DMA, MAD, and MDA all in use for Dominica, Madagascar, and Moldova. Unfortunately, none of them have met each other…yet.

There’s also RUS, SUR, and URS for Russia, Suriname, and the Soviet Union (pre-1992). None of them have played each other, either, although in one case there are understandable reasons.

Going back to pairs for a moment, there are still some more rivalries that could yet arise as soon as the teams play each other:

  • ATG/TGA (Antigua and Barbuda/Tonga)
  • BLR/LBR (Belarus/Liberia)
  • CAM/MAC (Cambodia/Macau)
  • CAN/NCA (Canada/Nicaragua)
  • CTA/TCA (Central African Republic/Turks and Caicos Islands)
  • GUA/UGA (Guatemala/Uganda)
  • IRN/NIR (Iran/Northern Ireland)
  • LES/SLE (Lesotho/Sierra Leone)
  • MAS/SAM (Malaysia/Samoa)
  • MSR/SMR (Montserrat, area 39 square miles, versus San Marino, area 24 square miles. Why have these teams never met? 😦 )
  • TAH/THA (Tahiti/Thailand)

Alas, some anagram matches not only have never occurred yet but possibly never will, due to geopolitical changes and reassignment of country codes.

  • ANT/TAN (Netherlands Antilles, dissolved in 2010, and Tanzania)
  • ASA/SAA (American Samoa, losers in the most-lopsided international football game ever, and Saar, 1950-1956. Again, really a shame this rivalry will likely never develop.)
  • BHO/BOH (British Honduras, now Belize, and Bohemia, now the Czech Republic)
  • CGO/GCO (Congo, which first played  in 1960, and Gold Coast, known as Ghana since 1957)
  • ERI/EIR (Eritrea, which first played in 1992, and the pre-1950 Ireland team)
  • GUY/YUG (Guyana/Yugoslavia)
  • ITA/TAI (Italy/Taiwan, now TPE or Chinese Taipei)

In the meantime, enjoy Germany vs. Greece, whether you like the sport, the economic ramifications, or just the wordplay.


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