Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Eight Sleeps

With only 8 sleeps now to the opening game (Germany v Costa Rica) and one practice match under our belts, like the Socceroos we can start fine tuning our training (“tapering” the Olympians call it). This Sunday night, Australia play the Netherlands which has an 11P kick-off, of course on SBS.
In truth I think the Aussies will struggle (the Guus factor notwithstanding). The Netherlands are playing their farewell game that night (as Australia did against Greece) and will want a positive result for their home fans; the Netherlands are playing in the World Cup finals (unlike Greece) and so they have a real reason for playing well (“tapering”); the Netherlands are ranked #3 in the FIFA World Rankings (Australia are #44) which means they can play a bit and “friendly” practice match or no, will shake their Orange booty to demonstrate that. Of course, football is a funny old game and don’t forget Guus.
Every article or column I have read that talks about Australia’s chances at the World Cup scratch around for some positives and then play their one and only big card : Guus. He has a phenomenal record, and the Australian players and officials are very impressed by him so who knows ? Let’s take them on, have a win and play Italy in the second round. Why not ? It might happen.
The following Wednesday night (Thursday morning), Australia play the 124th ranked Liechtenstein, 330A. I deeply suspect that I will be taping this sporting engagement and get up at a World-Cup-Approved-Start-Time (11P, 2A or 5A) to watch a replay of the tape. Those quick on the draw will know that a 330A start game means a 515A finish so it might on this occasion be a 530A start but whatever ! Let’s not get hung up on these sorts of details. I intend to watch. Leave me be. I’ll be “tapering.”
SBS announced on Tuesday that they were now covering the two remaining practice matches live which made me wonder if they either never were or are just re-releasing the information to generate some publicity. It should be noted also that SBS are commencing their broadcasts half an hour before kick-off for each game but I for one will not be getting up extra early just for that honour.

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