Soccer: Australia’s tough draw leaves me wondering what’s in store

By Tim Ivins

“The punishment an Almanacker and Socceroos tragic will put himself through,” I thought to myself as I turned off the alarm at 3.30am.

The kettle goes on and so does the TV as beautiful Cape Town streams in. It’s an exciting time, the World Cup Draw, and probably the closest I will ever come to winning lotto. That is of course if Australia get a favourable draw for the World Cup next year.

Introduced to the beautiful game by Les Murray as a seven-year-old for the 1991 Under-21 World Cup, where we finished an amazing third, I have been hooked on international football ever since. I was crestfallen after the 2006 draw, not by the fact that we drew Brazil but by the fact that we would face Italy, Ghana, USA or the Czech Republic should we make it to the Round of 16 (which we did but let’s not go there; it’s still raw).

Despite a dominant performance in qualifying, with three of the four pools sorted by geography, a treacherous draw was quite possible. Indeed, having run 10 simulated draws prior to writing, things looked dire for the Socceroos; I put them in a group of death on four occasions. Still I held out hope that David Beckham and all the other drawers would prove kinder than I was.

The coffee starts to kick in as the singing and dancing reverberate around the room. I cringe, hoping that the schmaltz and bonhomie will end and that the draw will begin.

One hour later…

WE’RE READY! In my sleep-deprived haze I’ve learned three things:

1. Charlize Theron is freakishly tall;
2. lions and wildebeest will happily play a game of football without the lions complaining about a foul and eating their opponent;
3. I’m terrified that my bitching about the ceremony will lead to us drawing a group of death.

The first round saw the seeds drawn into their groups. South Africa are automatically scheduled into Group A but I am keeping a close eye on Italy and Spain; Italy because revenge would be sweet, Spain because they are the scariest team in the world right now and any group they are in would surely mean a race for second place for the other three teams. The balls are drawn and the groups stand as follows:

The second round is where Australia fits in and I can barely watch as the balls are drawn. My pulse quickens and it is positively thumping as we draw Germany, just like 1974.

The third round sees the remaining African and South American teams drawn. I hope for Algeria or Uruguay. We avoid Cote D’Ivoire, which is a relief off of my shoulders, but that relief is short-lived as we land Ghana. It’s not the worst case scenario but it’s not good either, as they are arguably the second strongest team in Africa.

Finally, the remaining European teams are placed. There’s a big gap between the strongest team, Portugal, and the weakest (take your pick from Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland). Given our group my fingers and toes are crossed for one of these three countries starting with “s” . France, Greece and Slovenia are drawn. I shut my eyes. We get a country starting with “s”, but it is not the team I want as our final opponent is Serbia.

With the draw completed, the final line-up is as follows:

A. South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
B. Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria, Greece
C. England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
D. Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
E. Netherlands, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark
F. Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
G. Brazil, North Korea, Cote D’Ivoire, Portugal
H. Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland

At first glance, it’s a close fight between our group and Group G for the title of group of death. Groups C and F seem relatively weak.

So the draw is set. Australia have a tricky but not impossible group. Best of all, should we reach the second round a match-up against England or the USA would likely await. Further analysis can come later. For now, I stumble back to bed, wondering how it will all turn out.

Dream? Or nightmare?

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says:

    Agree Tim.

    England, Italy and Spain drew well. I love the ‘Group of Death’ moniker.

    If we make it through the group, we’ll probably play against England.

    Charlize (a glamour) appeared a fair bit taller than Haile Gebrselassie. Must have been some serious high heels going on.

  2. I also love the “Group of Life” moniker (Group F). It depresses me that New Zealand may do better than us.

    If we do get through we’ll get England which would be utterly massive (even bigger if we knocked them out) or USA, both of which would be great match ups.

    I think Charlize did have some serious high heels but it doesn’t help that Haile is 5ft 3″

  3. Martin Reeves says:

    Tim/Peter

    While Group D appears tough, I envisage a result in at least two of our games, possibly three.

    Stating the obvious, we need to get off to a good start. If the Nationalmannschaft have their way with us in the first game, it could all be over.

    A respectable loss first up could be offset by a win over Ghana or Serbia. Throw in an epic draw with either side and you have a similar script to 06 and a potentially mouth-watering showdown with England in the knock-out stages.

    The best headline of the weekend came from British rag, The Sun:

    “Best English Group Since the Beatles”.

    Pay that.

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