Thursday, June 14, 2007
Eurolyroos - update
But not, as some have implied, an impossible one. Yes, Iraq's Under 23s knocked a misfiring 2004 Olyroo side out of the previous tournament. Yes, North Korea pumps ridiculous amounts of money into its youth sport program, largely (well, entirely) for propaganda purposes.
There are some hopeful signs, however; the most salient of which is the fact that this time, all the matches fall on FIFA designated dates (although August 22 is only a "friendly" one). Thus, it should be easier to secure the participation of our European-based Under 23 contingent. Iraq and Lebanon are both far closer to Europe than to Australia, and the Euro brigade will surely be crucial in those two away encounters.
None of the other three nations in the group will be particularly comfortable places to visit, but those who have made much of the Matildas' travails in Pyongyang should remember that the Matildas were beaten fair and square at home too. North Korea have always been a force to be reckoned with in women's football, but their men's teams, after the glorious blip of 1966, have been underwhelming.
Perhaps (one might cynically suggest) Rob Baan has chosen the right time to jump ship. But his successor should still be able to face the final round of qualifiers with significant hope of progressing.