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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Blogger Cecilia said...

I told you I'd do badly! :)

June 04, 2008 10:41 pm  
Anonymous wes said...

Good to see another post from you Hamish. But yeah sometimes in these qualifying matches all you need is a win and at worst a draw but not the chain of draws that China is now having.

Its interesting you mentioned the Namibia/Kenya match. I think Kenya and Namibia are nearly of equal strength and you can tell from their ranking which is very close.

Namibia qualified for the last Africa Nations Cup but Kenya didn't and so I think Namibia are sort of on the up.

In terms of being an easy group, yes I think it looks like an easy one with Guinea being the strongest team in there and ranked 6th in Africa compared to Kenya's 30 plus and so I should expect them to top that group but the next strongest team would be Zimbabwe and they managed to draw Guinea away and so it could be an interesting group for your friend John.

June 05, 2008 2:20 pm  
Anonymous Ed Vegas said...

Agree with you assesment of the game H, even the goal was a bit of a non event - prawn sandwich crowd??

As for Mr Moore - leave him out of it, North and Niel will do fine and we need our captain fresh for the Roar.

Speaking of, are you exited about Mezenga?

June 25, 2008 2:27 pm  
Anonymous Ed Vegas said...

OK, cancel that about Mezenga :(

This dutch guy better be good....

June 26, 2008 11:11 am  

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