Kickers at odds over Cup

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

Forget pouring over extra game film for the next month because there is too much excitement on cable television.

Both Burke Dales and Sandro DeAngelis will be getting their kicks tuning into the world's biggest sporting event.

The CFL will take a back seat as the Calgary Stampeders kicking duo will be passionately following their favourite teams in the World Cup, which starts tomorrow.

Dales, the punter, has been a huge Netherlands fan since childhood, while placekicker DeAngelis, of course, roots for his family's home country of Italy.

Because few Stampeders are into soccer, the players couldn't even get a World Cup pool started. So they decided if Dales' team goes further than DeAngelis' -- or vice versa -- the other kicker will win bragging rights.

And with plenty of free time on their hands watching practice, the trash talk was in full gear during training camp.

"I've told him Italy will likely get beat out in the first round," said Dales. "If history repeats itself, they're probably done right away.

"I can't see the Italians going very far this year ... They care more about how they look than they do about the ball."

Of course, DeAngelis disagrees.

"The Netherlands seem to have all the talent in the world but don't seem to make it happen," he said.

"Italy has a tougher group than the Netherlands but they will still go further this year. This is Italy's year."

Both kickers credit soccer for the basis of their professional football careers. It was through kicking a soccer ball they realized they could adapt those skills to football.

Dales played on several competitive teams before choosing to attend Concordia University for Canadian football.

"Soccer was at one point my favourite sport," Dales said. "I've been waiting for four years for the World Cup to come around."

DeAngelis actually spent four years on Team Ontario as a striker and likely could have pursued the game at the pro level.

"Eventually I hit the fork in the road between football and soccer and I took football," DeAngelis said. "I was 17 the last time I played a competitive game."

So for the next month, the kickers will ride a rollercoaster of emotion for their teams.

Unfortunately for them, the only time Italy would meet the Netherlands would be in the championship game July 9.

"I wait every four years for this and Italy gives me an ulcer every time," DeAngelis said. "I look forward to it and dread it at the same time."


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