AS the Women’s World Cup approaches the semi-final stage, I’m hopeful that Germany will be among the last four. Through the decades, German football teams have made it difficult for others to love them. The Diary shuns indulging in national stereotypes so we’ll just say that, well … German football teams at both club and international level have a formidable reputation for getting the job done regardless of how.

The only time we’ve found ourselves cheering a German triumph was in the 1974 European Cup final when Bayern Munich defeated the thugs of Atletico Madrid, who had kicked Celtic off the park in the semi-final. Since then we’ve seen them conspire to play out what looked like a pre-arranged draw with Austria at Spain in 1982. Later in the competition, Harald Schumacher avoided red after almost decapitated France’s Patrick Battiston.

At the Italia 90 and the Euro 1996, they repeatedly conned referees by feigning injury more often than Glasgow City Council’s workforce. This time the Diary is desperate for the German women to triumph. Admittedly, this is not all to do with the football. Our support mainly stems from the German women’s pre-tournament video which actually spoke for many of the teams competing here.

“We play for a nation that does not know our names,” the German women declared in their witty but uncompromising video. Their star striker, Alexandra Popp, looks directly at the camera and asks: “Do you know my name?” Stitched into the background action are some of their recent triumphs.

The narrator concludes the ad with: “It’s okay; you do not have to remember our name; only what we want: to play.”

The German squad, we feel, can take some solace from Scotland’s men’s international team: very few of us know who many of them are either and that clearly extends to some of the Scottish players themselves.

The National:

WE want to mention this now because more than two weeks into what has been a brilliant tournament, the English media appear not to know many of the German women’s names either … or indeed many of those from the other nations.

The BBC’s coverage of what will prove to be a breakthrough tournament for women’s football has been typically insular and biased in the extreme. Certainly, there are bite-sized segments most nights on catch-up chronicling that day’s goals. Such analysis and features there have been are almost entirely focused on Phil Neville’s England squad.

This wouldn’t be too much of a chore if the England women were exciting to watch. Neville’s squad are a decent outfit, if a little over-hyped. They have several good players including that promising newcomer VAR. But like their male English international counterparts, what individual flair possessed by this team has been sacrificed for a studied and risk-free approach which has made most of their matches dreary to watch, except when Scotland had them under the cosh for the last 20 minutes of their opening encounter.

Some of the most exciting moments have included Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva becoming the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer, man or woman, and Australia’s Sam Kerr scoring all four goals in the Matildas match against Jamaica.

Our own favourite was when Thailand captain Kanjana Sung-Ngoen scored her team’s only goal of the tournament against Sweden in their 5-1 defeat. This was just a few days after The Thai women had been skelped 13-0 by tournament favourites USA and brought tears of genuine joy to Sung-Ngoen’s colleagues and coaches on the bench.

Memo to the BBC: please increase your coverage of this great tournament and try to spend a little time on the other personalities and stories of France 2019.

Cameroon just showing desire
ONE of the biggest stories of the tournament is also one of its most regrettable. We’re talking here about the conduct of Cameroon in their 3-0 to England.

Look, no-one here is condoning ugly and belligerent behaviour on the field of play, but some of the predictable sanctimony from UK commentators, the England boss, Phil Neville and assorted Fifa panjandrums has been nauseating.

The Cameroon women, distressed at what they felt was unjust trial by VAR, had threatened to walk off the park and there were a couple of meaty challenges in the course of the game. We’re still not convinced that Augustine Ejangue actually spat on Toni Duggan; appearing rather to spit in the general vicinity.

Some of our top favourite moments of previous men’s World Cups have also been the most acrimonious. Again, we don’t condone belligerence, but it’s rather splendid when it happens nonetheless. The Cameroon players were like angels compared with some of their more celebrated male counterparts who were involved in running battles.

The men’s game has been refined through the decades into its present sterile – if technically immaculate – product. But it’s taken almost a century of disorder. Let’s cut the Cameroonian women some slack. It’s a passionate and fiery game and many of those taking part in this World Cup are playing for little more than their love for their country and their pride in their national jerseys.

The National:

SFA must join the revolution
A HEADY brew of euphoria mixed with the sense of experiencing history has suffused many of those participating in France 2019. The stadiums have begun to fill up as the tournament has progressed, and global viewing figures are spiking. In a traditional pub full of males last week I witnessed several of them talking with some authority on the match being played on the big screen in front of them.

Almost seven million watched England v Cameroon while hosts France, along with traditional male football super-powers Italy and Brazil, have also drawn record-breaking viewing figures for women’s football.

Music fans at Glastonbury got to see England’s match against Norway last night following a plea from the Lionesses’ midfield player Georgia Stanway, whose brother is attending the festival.

Fifa has just revealed too that France’s narrow and exciting triumph over Brazil attracted 35 Brazilian viewers and 10.6 million in France. Holland’s win against Japan was watched by 3.54 million – the fourth-highest TV rating for any sporting event in the country in 2019.

It seems that many countries are getting ready to embrace women’s football on its own merits. It would be great if Scotland’s football authorities and sponsors grasped this too.

The Diary is extremely doubtful. We are talking about an organisation that has specialised in incompetence almost since its inception. Perhaps an enlightened sponsor among the gambling conglomerates and alcohol tycoons who proliferate Scottish football could take a leap of faith with some serious money. Don’t bet on it, though.