Thursday, December 03, 2009

 

Before the Draw

The pots for the World Cup draw on Friday are now official, and it is likely that the groups will be fairly even in terms of playing strength.

The only real anomalies are South Africa's elevation to a seeding as hosts, France lurking as a non-seeded team in Pot 4, and, dare I say, the presence of New Zealand in Pot 2. There's little doubt, with all respect to Ricki Herbert's side, that they will be the team everyone is hoping to meet.

One of the striking things about the complement of teams for this World Cup is that most of the African "giants" made it through...unlike in 2006. No Togo or Angola for European or South American teams to hope for in their section. Algeria are perhaps not as daunting as the other four in Pot 3, but any team that can knock off the twice African champions is worthy of respect.

I mention France because, despite their decline under the tragicomic tutelage of Raymond Domenech, they still possess quality players in abundance, and they are surely the team that all the seeds are hoping to avoid. It is strange, in fact, that a side which came within a penalty kick of the title last time around finds itself in with the European miscellany.

From Pot 2, the USA are probably the dangermen. Their Confederations Cup performances, and the relative ease with which they qualified from CONCACAF, have marked them out as a much improved unit, and a repeat of their 2002 exploits is quite a strong possibility. Along with New Zealand, North Korea will probably be the preferred companion in Pot 2, shall we say.

So what of Australia's chances?

A group comprising the Socceroos plus South Africa, Uruguay and Slovenia would be nice, but part of me hopes that we can test ourselves against one of the big boys. Spain are going into the tournament as favourites for once, but Brazil and Argentina will be a threat as always, and one can never discount the eternal European achievers, Italy and Germany. England have improved under Fabio Capello, but I don't think they really have the quality to be a serious threat.

A clash with one of the real contenders, plus a manageable other two, would suit me fine.

Comments:
Hey Mate,

good to see the blogosphere bristling with anticipation. I think you are right about Algeria- they showed real fight to see off Egypt, and South Africa could be a dark horse if the crowds carry them like South Korea in 2002. Real shame that Aus and NZ ae not likely to meet, barring a miracle. Although AUS would be favourites, we all know Kiwis lift when we play you.

All the best, so looking forward to Saturday morning's draw. live on terrestial TV here at 6pm, just in time for porridge, coffee and nappy changes.

Craig-Football Tragic NZ
 
"I mention France because, despite their decline under the tragicomic tutelage of Raymond Domenech, they still possess quality players in abundance, and they are surely the team that all the seeds are hoping to avoid. It is strange, in fact, that a side which came within a penalty kick of the title last time around finds itself in with the European miscellany."

They have shown glimpses of still being a major power when most needing to perform. Otherwise they look incredibly laboured, not just because of Domenech's lack of inspiration but a constant shortage of invention and drive deep in midfield.

I think they'll again start very slowly before playing far more urgently in a must-win situation in the second or third game. Whether they qualify will depend on the strength of their group, whether it's fairly manageable like 2006 or tougher like 2002 when they left themselves needing to win in the third game against the best team in the group in Denmark.
 
Your "best possible scenario" group would be nice, but I want England. To beat England at a World Cup would have such massive positive social and footballing ramifications. It really is a no-lose situation. If England win, it's expected and the world goes on. A loss to Australia at a World Cup and they can no longer hide behind the "2003 was a friendly" excuse and would force many others to acknowledge the how far we have come. I just can't think of a negative.
 
Irieeye: hoping to combine an early morning bottle feed with the draw myself. :-)
 
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