Okay, we got sent home once again. Not to worry, two years from now we can all travel down to sunny Brazil, where we can all lose our wallets and our good health if we're not careful.
Two years from now is exactly what's on the minds of football associations worldwide, since yesterday saw the Spanish team rack up their third trophy in a row. Still, in 2014 they'll all be two years older, and so will our younger talents. Before that time, however, there are a few games to play still. England has been placed in Group H in the World Cup Qualifiers, along with the following footballing greats:
Both host teams from this year's Euros, both of whom got knocked out in the group stages. Whether their relative euphoria about their performances can be translated into a succesful qualifying run remains to be seen, but Ukraine saw themselves reaching the quarter finals back in Germany, 2006, where they were beaten by eventual champions Italy. Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino have never been active on the final stages of a tournament. The slight nuance there is that Montenegro has only been an independent nation since 2007, and the lovely detail in that San Marino has managed to collect an impressive 2 points across 5 previous world cup qualifying runs.
We do know for sure that only the 1st place finisher will travel down to South America directly, after wich the 8 best runners-up will face of against each other for the final four tickets. The qualifiers will take place over a little more than a year, with the first match for England being away in Moldova, September 7th, 2012, and the closing act at home against Poland, October 13th, 2013, for a total of 10 matches across the year.
Now, normally I'd make the remark that getting 30 points across the board should really prove to be simple, but I know that this is football and we support England, and nothing ever goes as we all expected. So, here's how I 'officially expect' this to turn out:
Ukraine will win the group, with England barely placing second over Poland. We'll win the play-offs against, let's say, Iceland with 1-0, and proceed to Brazil acting like we'll bring the cup home to the home of football. We proceed to be knocked out in the group stage by losing to Korea DPR, Nigeria and Chile.
I think that's rock solid, really. Thoughts?