by user Bobo

These days I'm fine with you guys mentioning the Ashes at every opportunity you get. Because whatever happens, you mention England in the same sentence. You're contractually obliged to. Can't you see that now? I could even stand you mentioning the name of Charles Bannerman. It was 128 years ago. Ancient history as far as I'm concerned. You should be too. Let bygones be bygones.

There's my bitterness showing through. Let's be honest, Australia will not have ever again such an easy route into the finals. From now on, they're not going to be classed as an Oceanian team, but as an Asian team. But, let's have a look at the situation as we stand. Remembering, of course, that Australia had to take on the fifth-placed South American team after giving New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands a good solid kick up the bottom.

Let's be clear about this at the moment. Tim Cahill still only has the joint-top Oceanian scoring record in the World Cup as of this moment. This shared honour goes to Varesa Toma, the 19-year-old from Fiji.

With today's rules, as outlined a couple of paragraphs ago, these days Australia's qualification is nothing like the shoo-in it could be if it tried hard enough. Uruguay have won the competition twice, let's not forget. And it was a great thing to see the World Cup itself visit Sydney on March 17th. But Australia are looking more promising coach-wise than they have for several years. Guus Hiddink's been everywhere, let's be honest. The Netherlands, the United States, Turkey, and now Australia, amongst other places. Yes, he's leaving in the summer (and for Russia, no less), but I'm happy to see him around.

For eleven players to play in front of 83,000 spectators in Uruguay is an experience the like of which half those players will never, ever believe occurred to them. But selling out a crowd of 98,000 for May 25th? Ouch. That said, we English have 12 of their current squad, including one player from Bristol City(?!) and one from Leeds United. Popovic, on the other hand, is a true star. Let's hope for them to top their 1974 performance, at least getting through to Round 2, if nowhere else, but, facing Brazil and Croatia, not forgetting Japan, I personally don't believe, however, this is possible. England nearly proved it was possible to beat Brazil back in Shizuoka in June 2002, but with Rivaldo and Ronaldinho in the opposing team, frankly we didn't stand a chance, did we...

For pride's sake, let's hope they perform to their expectations. Altogether now...

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong...

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