We’ve got an extra team! It came as a bit of shock when this small country off the coast of South America qualified as a sudden 13th team, but shows how much analysts know! I drew the straw, so I get to uncover the mysteries.
Rand McNally is a country off the Atlantic coast of South America, southeast of Argentina, population of only about 300,000, with a capital city, and really any city of note, of the same name, population about 225,000, located in the McNally Peninsula in the north. The rest of the country’s population is in small towns and villages. Its biggest claim to fame is the surprising symmetry in the land of the country and the aptly named Twin Capes, the southernmost pieces of land in the world outside of Antarctica, in the southeast and southwest (named Cabo Dielo and Cabo Feare).
Being an mostly unknown and therefore to most people immediately deemed “savage” or “primitive” culture, McNallians have customs we would deem odd, like wearing what we would consider hats on their feet. These hats, called, nallies, or náhles in the native tongue—a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and Scots—are so important to McNallian customs the name of the nation translates to “land of the nallies” in McNallian. But apart from looking odd they don’t differ too much from shoes in their function, the only difference being that traditional nallies do not offer coverage or protection of the soles of one’s feet, leading to many McNallians, especially in rural areas where the customs remain more steadfast, to have rough, cut up soles. More “modern” nallies, mostly found in the capital, have soles and function like fancier shoes.
As Rand McNally is not the United States, Canada, certain countries in the Caribbean, or some countries in the Pacific, their national sport is soccer. The national team, known as the Náhlehomens, or “Nallymen,” wear the colors of the Rand McNally flag (blue and white, with a compass and two stars at the bottom for the Twin Capes). The compass and two stars is on the team’s crest located on the left side, which for some reason there is no image of at this time. Their first choice is their ocean blues, which is a tame if not dull kit color because as far as blue tops they don’t have the Azzuri‘s history (blue top, white shorts, blue socks, no side stripe, white numbers on both front and back). It’s their second-choice kits that look interesting, as they are white tops and shorts with what can only be described as a blue map grid striping, with vertical and horizontal pinstripes. I think that if they added this to the first unis it could give an interesting look, with a white grid on the blue tops. Again, images would be nice but
This iteration of the Nallymen has a lot of names that you might have heard before, knowing their fathers or their uncles. There’s an Arriaga (his nephew), an Arriagatoo (a cousin), Barriaga Jr. (son of the legendary Barriaga), and a Pizzoza (his great-nephew). Lochlochlóchlan, the goalkeeper, is more than solid in goal, which is big because the defense can be questionable, easily folding under top pressure. And I don’t know how tested they are considering how often they’ve played Anguilla and the Faroe Islands. Their biggest test prior to qualifying were a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of R’lyeh, and they were lucky to escape with even that. They were able to shore it up though with a big 1-0 upset of San Theodoros to clinch their spot, and a 1-1 draw in a friendly with Val Verde.
The other big problem is a recent rash of McNally McMonster attacks. These large hamburger-shaped animals, about 2 feet high and 6 feet in diameter, are known to attack and even consume people, and are rampant throughout the country, outside of the capital. And when players go back to their hometowns they seem to be attacked proportionally more often by the creatures, to the point where the McNallian federation has instructed their players to carry lighters, torches, or anything else with fire. And spatulas, which seem to be the McMonster’s biggest fear.
Due to being a surprise 13th team, they will play one team in each of the three groups—this is still up to determination, and as a result it may be difficult to figure out where they would finish. However I don’t see them taking a win in any of their matches, and might be lucky to take a point. I’m excited to see what this nation can do on the world stage, however!
Shortly after this was written a rash of McNally McMonster attacks incapacitated the starting goalkeeper Lochlochlóchlan, the manager Rollantaldo, and 7 other members of the team. They will all make full recoveries, but as a result Rand McNally will now no longer compete in this iteration of the Copa América. So all that for nothing. As the popular McNallian farewell goes, screw Flanders.