If there was one FIFA men’s World Cup finals tournament to miss (well, maybe aside from the one after), perhaps it would be this coming one in Russia. Borrowing a apt word from the great Joe Biden, it will likely become the biggest stage of them all on which Vlad the Vicious Narcissist will attempt to aggrandise his power more than ever before. I mean, he looked insufferable enough during the Confederations Cup. Imagine how boorish he will be next year. The USA probably had the right idea in butchering their campaign. (I’m joking, sort of).
And sorry, but being an utter curmudgeon I just cannot for the life of me see how we will ever beat Peru- over either leg. Peru have a world ranking of twelve. That is for a solid reason. It didn’t just get drawn out like that suddenly from a box of Skippy’s. Japan are ranked twenty-eight places lower than Peru. Meanwhile, we are ranked quite a bit below nations like India and Madagascar. Even the teeny, tiny, wind-swept, desolate Faroe Islands sit twenty places higher, good grief.
Unfortunately, in English football parlance against Japan we looked like a League One team trying to stay with a team from the Premiership. We need to get real; we offered very little on attack in that match in Nagoya and our defenders (including the fabled and feted Winston) were made to look like Easter Island statues on several occasions. The Japanese should have stuffed, basted and roasted us.
And the main problem? We just do not play quality opposition enough and nowadays never, ever put the same side out on the park on consecutive occasions. Fact: Our three best players: Reid, Wood and Thomas have NEVER been together on the same pitch before.
Peru have just finished an intense campaign in the most multi-skilled confederation on earth. And what was the All Whites’ World Cup road? Oh hang on, the kingdom of seven-a-side rugby, Fiji, New Caledonia. and that international king-hitting heavyweight of world football, The Solomon Islands.
And even after using every spare sinew and trying to fight off cramp that we happen to scrape some form of result over here, the lads have to then board the big silver bird a matter of HOURS later and try to somehow do the same over in Lima- in front of a charged-up crowd who haven’t seen their team at a World Cup finals since 1982. How hungry their side will be to qualify is almost unthinkable.
I tend to think the best way to approach the Wellywood clash is just to soak up the atmosphere and the colour of the occasion. Enjoy the pageantry and fun of the stands because there could be a hammering taking place out in the middle. We have about as much chance of winning as a Parliamentary press reporter has of gaining the upper-hand in an argument against Winston- next to nothing.
But I will be watching and hoping like hell that we don’t make a pig’s ear of it. Apart from the fact that it will make a refreshing change from the diet of Refrigerator Bullrush aka the national game (albeit it’s played with great skill and dexterity).
Dare to dream. Fair enough. As long as we don’t end up seeing a true life nightmare.