Exactly 45 years after England lifted the World Cup the draw was made for the 2014 incarnation in Brazil. It was long and boring but could it ever be memorable?
It’s official. We can all book our holidays and schedule a wax for 12th June 2014 because England are going to the World Cup. After last nights draw the results were predicted by pundits then minutes later decided by punters as England just about top a group containing Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and the mighty San Marino in Harry Redknapp’s first World Cup qualifying campaign. All that’s left to do is congratulate the boys on making it to Rio and speculate after 46 years of hurt can the Three Lions get their hands on the replacement Jules Rimet trophy.
Or so you’d think looking at the reaction to last night’s draw for the qualifying stages of the 2014 Wold Cup. Rio reckons, "England WC qualifying group is similar to most qualifying campaigns, some tricky away games but have to be looking to qualify top." The Sun is over the moon England didn’t meet France calling the draw a victory for the ‘Glee Lions’. Even Mr On-the-fence Sir Trevor Brooking made his most decisive statement in 20 years saying "We can't complain at the draw. We could have had a lot worse. I [think] we will qualify."
So that’s England sorted then.
The other home nations chances of qualifying for the first time this century look difficult with Scotland and Wales grouped together with heavy weights Serbia, Belgium and Croatia while Northern Ireland are in a tricky group containing Portugal, Russia and Israel. Meanwhile the Republic of Ireland need to finish above Germany, Sweden and Austria if they’re going to make their first appearance in the finals since 2002.
As it stands it’ll be the usual suspects making it to the finals in Brazil through a qualifying campaign as long and as boring as the draw. The tension around whether England would end up in the same group as France was the only thing keeping the blood pumping and your eyelids open. Rio de Janeiro's city and state government spent a reported £13 million on the draw and it was still as dull as dishwater. No wonder there was protests outside. For that money and a bit of imagination they could add a bit more excitement and take a leaf out of the book of some of history’s more memorable draws like…
Getting Someone Unexpected To The Make The Picks
For a World Cup draw in Brazil you’d expect to see some Samba stars picking the balls. Cafu, Neymar, Zico, Lucas (not that one), Bebeto, Mario Zagallo, Fellipe Bastos, Ganso and the pie loving bucktooth goal machine Ronaldo were all obvious choices. It’s always nice to see Ronny’s round face and cheeky smile but the Fifa delegates could do worse than ask Saint and Greavsie for a bit of advise. The grandfathers of the light hearted football show inexplicably roped Donald Trump in to do the draw for the 1992 Rumbelows Cup quarterfinal (skip to 2:43). The result? The syrup wearing business magnate helped set up a tie between Man U and Leeds kicking the tournament right off. Fifa definitely missed a trick here. How hard would it have been to get Pippa Middleton to walk out backwards and do the draw over her shoulder or Simon Cowell to make disparaging remarks about Solomon Islands chances of making it out Oceania qualifying group B. If it’s good enough for the League Cup…
Fill The Stage With Swooning Ladies
An example Fifa could lift from the 2006 Champions League quarterfinal draw. It’s very easy to set up.
1 pretty European woman called on stage to do some boring link.
1 old man delegate.
1 international footablling behemoth at the peak of his physical powers.
Feed the pretty European a single Rivita and a glass of water over 12 hours.
Make her stand up all day with the rarefied company of grey haired men in suits for several hours.
Turn the heat up to 90 degrees.
Stand back and watch her fall over on live TV when you (yes you Steven Gerrard) are clearly in a position to help.
Laugh until snot comes out of your eyes.
Rig the Draw By Making The Numbers Up
This entertaining idea came from JJB Irish Cup draw in January. Somehow Challenge Cup Committee Chairman Robert Cupples mistakes the number six for the number ten throwing the whole drawing process out of whack. We suspect old Bobby Cupples didn’t do it on purpose but this idea coupled with the sourcing unexpected people to do the draw could result in the Murdoch boys being invited on stage to manipulate the balls until their beloved Australia gets a virtual bye to the final. Unfortunately it’s too late for the creative accountants that crashed the world’s economy to find a way for the Republic of Ireland to play in the last World Cup while nobody noticed just by sticking their hand in a velvet bag and fudging the numbers.
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