From the rodents of Pokemon to the Elephants, Group C will have no shortage of animal mascots. Columbia may miss their El Tigre Falcao, but the coach has other plans to retain their sharpness while Greeceís Pirate Ship look to scupper the best laid plans.
Japan: An animated cheer
Miss watching the famous cartoon series Pokemon? The wait is going to get over. No, no there wonít be any re-runs on any of the kidsíchannels and the Japanese are not even thinking to make a sequel either.
Switch channels on your television at any time of the day, and youíre sure to bump into an animated character with distinctly Oriental features indulging in screechy exchanges in English or a regional language, all dubbed of course. Now, get ready to see a lot more of them.
For, over the next month and a half, they will be invading your World Cup viewing experience, at least whenever the Japanese football team, or the Blue Samurais, take the field. While itís not unique for a World Cup-bound team to choose a cartoon character as their mascot, Japan will have the super-powered Pikachu, the yellow-coloured rodent star of Pokemon fame, cheering them on. In true Pokemon tradition, Pikachu will be accompained by 10 other comrades, one for each member of the playing XI of course, in their pursuit to bring glory for the Samurais. The rest of the army will be made up of Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Meowth, Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie, Pancham, Helioptile and Litleo. The initiative to have an anime legend as the mascot was designed by team sponsor Adidas in collaboration with renowned Japanese games manufacturing company Nintendo.
The Pokemons, pocket monsters for the uninitiated, are believed to possess unique powers and fight gallantly for their leader, Pikachu. The passionate Japanese followers can only hope that the Samurais take a cue from their good-luck charms and rally around the experienced of Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.
In the Pokemon world, Pikachus can store electricity in their bodies and use them to strike, just like the electrifying duo of Yasuhito Endo and Shinji Okazaki.
Itíll also be interesting to see whether the Samurais are inspired enough by Pikachu to use their mascotís signature offense move, the Volt Tackle, which can paralyze opponents. Though the referees might have something to say about that.
Pikachu itself will face competition from Fuleco, a yellow and blue armadillo, who is the official mascot of