Football: What's in a Nickname?
The Jogoos: SC Villa has lived up to it's nickname to dominate UG soccer.

Football: What's in a Nickname?

The Jogoos: SC Villa has lived up to it's nickname to dominate UG soccer.

By Ramathan Kasozi
more from author >>
First published: February 18, 2007

In 2006, one of Uganda's celebrated Sports writers at the Weekly Observer newspaper, Vianney Nsimbe had an article analyzing whether the success of a team is determined by its nickname. This boiled into a recurring hot debate within the Ultimate Media Consult newsroom. Kasozi Ramathan, analyses the nicknames of some teams visa vis their success.

In Uganda, whenever you utter out a word 'Jogoo' it is reserved for the Ugandan record champions SC Villa. Joogo is a Swahili word for a Big Cockerel, the emperor of the birds. Is it by coincidence that the Jogoos have lived to the tag and to dominate Ugandan Football?

SC Villa's local nemesis Express FC, go by the tag the Red Eagles, invoking the image of the bloodthirsty predator. It beats my understanding however, that the Eagles have for long been under the shadow of the cock.

The Ugandan national team is nicknamed the Cranes, a beautiful peaceful looking bird and if it was the identity determining the success of the team, the Cranes war cry is not enough to intimidate any one.

The Cranes
The Cranes.

But surprisingly we have seen the Cranes clobbering teams with intimidating identities. Lesotho Crocodiles, Malawi Flames, Kenya's Harambe Stars to mention but a few that have ever fell prey to the Cranes.

Does the Indomitable Lions tag, account for Cameroon's success? The West African giant foot balling nation has for long turned indomitable on the black man's continent, with four African Cup of Nations trophies in their archives.

Egypt's national team is tagged as The Pharaohs: The pharaohs were very powerful kings in ancient Egypt feared in foreign lands as much as at home. Although they are dead and buried in the Pyramids, some theories have it that it is the history surrounding these kings that inspires the team. It is little wonder they are the reigning African kings with five trophies at their disposal.

Manchester United, had to change its name from Angelic Babes to the Red Devils in the 1970s in the quest to spread fear in the soccer fraternity. By coincidence, despite not being one of the most successful clubs internationally, it remains one of the most feared teams in the word. When the Red Devils were eliminated by Portugal's underdogs Benfica in the 2005/ 2006 European Champions League, a strong Man U sympathizer attributed the loss to Benfica's playground- tagged as the stadium of light, arguing that devils always hate light.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid.

Real, the giants of Spanish Capital Madrid, recently adopted the name Los Galacticos (Galaxy of Stars) from their original identity Merengues [a delicious high end cake]. Interestingly, it is always hard for any team to go to the market and compete with the Spanish heavy weights over any player. For a long time, Real have lived to the nickname by assembling world-class players.

Talk about 'Magician' Zinadine Zidane, 'Goal Poacher' Ronaldo Dalima, 'Prince of Banabue' Raul Gonzalez, 'Lion Hearted' Roberto Carlos - - -

Camp Nou
Camp Nou.
Source: Wikipedia

Culés, (Buttocks) is the tag given to Real's local archrivals Barcelona. Surprisingly the name some years back haunted them, as fans while seated at the Camp Nou topmost terraces would expose their bums to the rival fans. Read more about Culers >>

In Italy, Juventus is tagged the Old lady and if we are to go by the saying that old brooms know all corners, isn't it enough to explain the Old lady's dominance of the Roman Empire despite all the malpractices that saw them being demoted to Serie -B?

However, going by the statistics, it will always remain a debate as whether the nickname has any impact on the success of the team. Little known Madagascar and Gambia tagged their national teams the Scorpions, hoping to scare opponents but despite the baptism, they can hardly even scare the Cranes.

In Argentina, Boca Juniors are nicknamed 'Bostros' which refers to people of the lower class but the name withstanding, Boca Juniors is one of the most respected teams in South America.

The world's best foot balling nations are Brazil and Italy with five and four world cups trophies respectively however non of them has a tag that can even scare a child. The Brazilians call themselves Samba Boys (from a popular Brazilian dance) and Italy the Azzuris, which means Blue.

All in all, it is hard to tell whether the success of the team has to do with their nickname but if it is the case, then Uganda should change its Cranes war-cry to something more intimidating. Maybe that's what is impeding them from reappearing in the African Cup of Nations finals since 1978.

By Ramathan Kasozi
more from author >>
First published: February 18, 2007
To learn more about Ultimate Media Consult go to

Ramathan Kasozi is a member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. . A graduate Journalist, Kasozi has more than 5 years experience reporting on sports in Uganda for different print and broadcast media houses.