Saturday, December 10, 2005

Where's the Isle of Man?

Viewing the 2006 World Cup draw made yesterday is a quite bizarre experience. First of all, for my American friends, that’s football; the game played with feet and a ball. And the World Cup is not like the World Series you have with your rounders thing, it involves er…the World. You hosted it a few years back, remember? You’re actually playing in this one as well. No, it's not a women's tournament, although that's open to debate.

Back to business. Years ago the competing teams would have reflected the old world order at the time (without the USA because they only ever play games that they can make up as they go along). There would be loads of Iron Curtain countries souped up on steroids; the South American chopping giants such as Argentina and Uruguay and then West Germany, Holland, Italy and inevitably Scotland. England would invariably have forgotten to qualify and the hopes of a nation would rest on the shoulders of the gallant Scots. There would be a single comedy third world team of mildly talented players of indeterminate age who would need the rules explained to them before kick-off but who would then proceed to beat the crap out of the Jocks, sending them home at the end of the first week. Holland or Italy would be the favourites but would get beaten by a late penalty in the final by West Germany or Brazil after leading it for 85 minutes.

Now we’ve got the likes of the mighty Australia, Iran, USA, Japan, Ghana, Tunisia and Angola fighting for the trophy. The break up of Yugoslavia into its constituent streets has provided us with Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia while the former USSR bequeaths us only Ukraine. Former winners France will have to overcome Togo and England will probably need to heavily beat Trinidad and Tobago to go through on goal difference after having Wayne Rooney sent off in the first minute of the first game. Is this really a true test of the overpaid balletic divas of the beautiful game? Where are the Russians? And the East Germans, trained by having live rounds fired at their heels by Stasi operatives? No Columbian fright wigs and idiot goalkeepers playing under death threats issued by Medellin’s finest this year either. I pity the average English punter whose knowledge of geography usually extends to which end of the ground the pie van is.

At least Scotland can rest easy this time round. Failing to qualify has saved them the ignominy of going out after beating Brazil 8-0 and then going down 1-0 to the Ivory Coast.

0 Vegetable peelings:

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