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Learn English Through Football Podcast: World Cup Qualifiers October 2016

Welcome to the podcast for fans of football who wish to improve their English language skills. This week we take a look at the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and focus on the phrases ‘caretaker manager’ and ‘comprehensive victory.’ You can read the transcript for the show in our post below (Damian = DF, Damon = DB).

Learn English Through Football Podcast: World Cup Qualifiers October 2016

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Transcript of the show

DF: You’re listening to languagecaster’s football podcast. Hello everybody, my name is Damian and I’m in a very sunny though slightly chilly London and hopefully Damon is there on the other end of the line in Tokyo, Japan. Damon, how are you doing?

DB: Very well indeed, Damian!

DF: Now today is Sunday and we are a little bit later than usual with the podcast as we wanted to see how the World Cup qualifiers were getting on and especially how the new England manager got on in his debut game in charge – the caretaker manager Gareth Southgate.

DB: Yes, lots of games going on around the world this week. There were games in Asia last Thursday – Japan managed to beat Iraq 2-1 with a late, late goal and Saudi Arabia and Australia played out a 2-2 draw among them.

DF: Yes, last Thursday also saw the first of six days of European qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Perhaps the biggest game so far was the match in Turin between hosts Italy and Spain which finished 1-1 and this meant that the Italians have not lost a qualifying game at home in either European or World Cup qualifiers in 52 games – amazing.

DB: It is indeed amazing. Now, how did Ireland do?

DF: Well, Damon they managed to beat Georgia 1-0 at home but they were lucky to claim all three points. This is a tough group with Wales, Austria and Serbia all vying with Ireland to make the top spot and direct qualification for Russia 2018.

DB: Yes, lots of games still to come over the next couple of days for the European sides and this will be their third game (of 10) in the qualifying tournament. African teams, meanwhile, have started their qualification process this weekend – there are five groups of four teams and with only the winners going through to the finals this makes it very competitive indeed. In South America they’ve already been playing for a year and teams have played nine times in the league system they use to decide qualification there.

Line up

DF: Yes, Damon, loads of football going on around the world. Now, we will be looking at some of the stories that have emerged from those qualifiers in our football review of the week – that’s the good, the bad and the ugly. After that, we will be looking at a couple of football language phrases from the week including the phrase ‘caretaker manager‘ and ‘comprehensive‘. As we don’t have any Premier League games this week, we don’t have our usual predictions battle but we have picked out a big game for us to predict from this week’s World Cup games: Slovenia versus England.

Right, let’s start with our football review. Damon, what was good this week?


DB: Well, it’s been a good weekend so far for some of the big guns – the powerhouses – of international football. Brazil thrashed Bolivia 5-0, Germany cruised to victory over the Czech Republic – that was 2-0 – and there were big wins for France (4-1 vs Bulgaria), Portugal (6-0 against Andorra) , Belgium (4-0 winners over Bosnia) and Holland who defeated Belarus 4-1. How about bad Damian?


DF: Well Damon the last two Copa America finals have seen Chile overcoming Argentina (both times on penalties) but neither side is playing particularly well at the moment with Argentina drawing their last game 2-2 away in Peru to find themselves in 5th place – that’s outside the direct qualification spots. But Chile are faring much worse. They were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Ecuador at the weekend and they are now in 7th place in the CONMEBOL or South American league – 8 points, that is, behind the leaders Uruguay. Bad times for the Copa America champions.

DB: How about ugly?


DF: Not so much ugly itself but win ugly. As we know teams cannot always play beautiful attacking football to win games and sometimes they have to grind out a result – they win ugly. Ireland’s win over Georgia on Thursday night was exactly that; as they were outplayed for much of the game – the visitors hit the woodwork twice – and the Irish goal was a scrappy one after a scramble in the box. Ireland won ugly but if I’m honest I’d be happy if they did that in every qualifier!

DB: Indeed!

Quiz question

DF: We have been talking about all things World Cup qualifiers on this week’s show and for our quiz today we want to know how many qualification spots or places there are for European sides? How many teams from Europe will qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup? We’ll have the answer at the end of the show.

DB: Yes, you are listening to – do you know what language that was? It was Polish of course and if you’d like to send in a ‘you are listening to’ link in your own language, please do so by sending your audio file with your name to

Right, next up we take a look at some of the football language from the week. And we’re going to start with caretaker manager.

Football Language – Caretaker Manager

DF: OK, well, a caretaker is someone who looks after someone or something, for example a school usually employs a caretaker to look after or take care of the school. A caretaker manager in football is someone who is looking after the position until someone else takes over which means that the caretaker position is a temporary one – it’s not permanent. Now, thanks to the recent resignation of Sam Allardyce (after only one match) England needed someone to take charge of the team for this week’s World Cup qualifiers so they turned to former player and under-21 manager Gareth Southgate. He was appointed caretaker manager of the national side and will look after the team for the next four matches. He may well be offered the job on a permanent basis after that or maybe the FA will look elsewhere for its new manager.

DF: Damon, any other language from this week?

Comprehensive (defeat/victory)

DB: Yes, you mentioned earlier that some of the big sides won easily this week and so I’m going to talk a little bit about an adjective that can be used to describe a big defeat or victory – comprehensive. If we say that a team has had a comprehensive victory it means that they have easily won the game and that the opposition has had no chance at all. We can also use the adjective to describe a defeat – a comprehensive defeat is one where a team has lost heavily. If a team was comprehensively beaten it means that the team was outplayed in the defeat – it is the sense of being completely defeated. So, for example, in an earlier example you said that Chile had been comprehensively defeated by Ecuador in their World Cup qualifier.

DF: Damon, can I say ‘ a comprehensive performance‘ when describing how a team plays?

DB: Yes, but it would need to be describing a winning performance – there has to be a sense of completion – to play very well and to win easily.

Follow us

DF: Great stuff. Now before we look at some predictions, we’d just like to remind you that you can contact us here at, please leave a comment on our site at You can also follow us on twitter, just search for @languagecaster, or by coming along to our Facebook page Learn English Through Football, you can let us know if there is any football language that you would like us to explain or add to our huge football language glossary.

DB: And don’t forget our instagram account as well! If you have any football photos you’d like to share then come along to our facebook or instagram site.

DF: OK Damon, it’s time for this week’s predictions.


DB: Yes indeed. Now regular listeners to the show will know that we have a Premier League predictions competition where you can take us on each week. You sign up for that by coming along to our site at, log in and you can see the predictions competition at the top of the menu bar on our website. Now, as there are no Premier League matches this week we are going to take a break from that competition but we thought we’d take a look at one game from the World Cup qualifiers that will take place over the next couple of days.

DF: Yes, caretaker England manager Gareth Southgate’s second game in charge away at Slovenia. Damon, what do you think?

DB: Slovenia have four points from their opening two games – a draw at Lithuania and an impressive home victory over Slovakia last night. But I think it’s going to be a 1-0 win for England. What do you think?

DF: I’m going for a comfortable, though not comprehensive, win for England – 2-0 for me. Now remember, we’ll have our predictions competition next week so sign up now.

Quiz Answer

DB: Damian, what about the quiz question?

DF: Yes, we asked how many teams qualify from the European section of the World Cup qualifiers. Nine group winners qualify directly and then the best eight runners-up play off to decide another four teams which make 13 in total – Russia, of course, do not count as they have qualified as hosts. So, well done if you got that one right.

Good bye

DB: Bye everyone. Enjoy the rest of the international games and we’ll be back next week when we will be looking at one of the biggest games in the English football season: Manchester United versus Liverpool – come on you Reds!

DF: Bye!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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