Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blogger's Cup Wrap after a draining Qualifier, Australia v Iraq 1:0

The lead headline on the ABC News site at this time is Australian troops begin Iraq pullout: report. It was posted at 6.03pm, short minutes before Harry Kewell all but finished Iraq's chances to get to the 2010 World Cup. Irony? I don't know. It really doesn't matter.

Funny old game that. I really thought it would be wet and weathery, but it wasn't really. It was pretty packed out, but still over 5000 empty seats. Jacob and his mate Stav were waylaid in a food queue for a few minutes after half time so they missed the goal. The moment of the goal was jubilant and you'd have to say the atmosphere was 'up', but the crowded pedestrian processsions and train ride home were far more subdued than any victorious crowd I'd ever seen. It's not like it was late or anything, even if it is Sunday night.

Overall I'd say it was the result I expected but I was very worried about Australia's inexperienced defence beforehand, and rightly so from what we witnessed. As Eamonn points out, there was a good dose of luck in that win. I truly hope Neil is back from his family duties for the away game on Saturday or I will expect us to concede our first goal under Verbeek.

Furthermore, this is where we actually need Craig Moore to make himself available if needed. Like really, World Cups are the real written history of our country's game, it is warfare between nations for the greatest sporting prize there is. 'Retiring on a high point' is all very well, but if the country actually needs you, there's a certain moral pressure I reckon. Craig, we need you, even if just to help Australia get there. My hardly technical or emperical observations tonight were that our defenders have fine skills but require experienced leadership in the middle - someone who can play and position himself well and scream instructions to the younger blokes at the same time. It's Moore's experience that the Socceroos need back there, especially if Neil is out. And it wouldn't hurt his game with the Roar to get a few extra good games either.

In other World Cup news the Africa Confederation started their huge 12-Group Round 2 of qualifiers yesterday and continue as I write. Togo and Camaroon won their first games as expected (against Zambia and Caper Verde Islands respectively), but my disapointment was Kenya being beaten away by Namibia. I started following Kenya's progress because my housemate John, an excellent and knowledgeable football compatriot, is from Kenya. According to him they are in the easiest possible group (Namibia, Guinea and Zimbabwe) but they really should have beaten Namibia. John was devastated.

In late March a few heads rolled. The Cayman Islands, The British Virgin Islands, Aruba, Dominica and Turks and Caicos Islands, all from the North, Central American and Caribbean Federation, were all knocked from contention for World Cup 2010.

As I've been writing James Brown has put up an analysis of the Socceroos game. It was over a year ago, after James had had an uncharacteristically long lapse from writing, that I jibed in a comment, "Have you got a girlfriend James?" Well... ahem.

And my apologies for being so slack. The most important thing I have failed to do of course is wrap up the Blogger's Cup.

Mike only won by a point (and congrats to Neil for such a close second), but he did so even though he'd absented himself from the country and the competition for several weeks. It can only be called a well-deserved win, and especially deserved, in a gold-watch sort of way, as he has farewelled the blogging world for a season. Hope to see you around in comments Mike and hope you come back before too long. Your prize, not Irish whiskey as promised because I couldn't find a good single malt, but scotch, is on its way. Drink one to Australia's humble but developing football blogging fraternity.

I don't know if I'll do the Blogger's Cup this season, but I'll definitely be blogging more as the A-League gets going again. It's the Roar's year.

PS. John over at A Seat at the A-League has just posted a good account of tonight's game, as has Tony The Round Ball Analyst.

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