The Greek national soccer team is heading to Brazil for the World Cup finals. On the way to the land of samba there will be a pit stop for a cigarette break and some tavli in Philadelphia and New York, where Karagounis and Co. will play 2 friendly games against Nigeria and Bolivia on June 3 and 6 respectively.

The World Cup finals are held once every four years (like the Olympics). In order to qualify each nation must go through a rigorous process of group play with other nations only to be allowed in the final 32 who compete for the most treasured trophy in team sports, the World Cup. Then there is a drawing (Greece is in the same group with Colombia, Japan and the Ivory Coast). More here.

When the “Road to Brazil” games were announced I couldn’t help but think how difficult it would be to find a Greek owned restaurant or pizza shop that’s opened that day or how hard it would be to find a cab in center city Philadelphia. It also reminded me of the Fiat commercial where once word spread that the “Italians were coming” all the pretty women started running to greet them. Here we go, dance groups, Greek society past and present board members all will go to the game to show some Greek pride on steroids. Greek events = tsamiko, gyro and Kalomoira, so you can have all three those two days.

Joking aside, there’s a good cause here and proceeds will go to the Greek American Heritage Foundation of Philadelphia. But I thought that it would be much more profitable if we set up a table with pirated music cd”s to sell to all the Nigerians. Besides it’s payback for all those blank cd”s I bought on a Greek island off a Nigerian a few years back.

So the day begins with a tailgate party, where massive amounts of ouzo and tsatsiki will be consumed and at 7 our “palikaria” take to the field. When the 90′ minutes of play are up we send our national soccer team off to Brazil for the World Cup and we Philly Greeks for $50 can go see kalomoira sing kaigomai kaigomai.

“I’m psyched for the game against Nigeria” said someone to me recently and I had to explain to him that from a soccer point of view the score is not all that important because the players will not give it their all and save their strength for Brazil. Coach Santos will also give the opportunity to second string athletes to show what they have and maybe even rest a few of his star players who may be nursing an injury or for whatever reason are not 100%.

I would like to point out that before my pseudo-writing career for Cosmos Philly, I was a pseudo DJ at a Greek radio station who covered sports which as a Greek in the 80’s meant covering soccer and basketball (Galis and the Greek league and not the NBA). So if we Greeks lose say 2-nil (nil is zero to those that want to show some soccer knowledge) it will mean absolutely nothing.

As for our chances to advance to the round of 16 don’t hold your breath. We have an aging midfield and our star forward (Mitroglou) most likely will not play due to injury and I think it’s gonna be three and out.

So use this once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy a soccer match and as my good friend Vasili Psarra said to “give them a dose of some Greek culture”.

As for me, when I sellout my CDs outside the stadium all I want to do is stand and hear from the loudspeakers:

Se gnorizo apo tin kopsi tou spathiou tin tromeri.
Se gnorizo apo tin opsi pou me via metra tin yi.
Ap ta kokkala vgalmeni ton ellinon ta iera.
Ke san prot’ anthriomeni haire o hair’eleftheria.
Ke san prot’ anthriomeni haire o hair’eleftheria,
Ke san prot’ anthriomeni haire o hair’eleftheria.