Friday, December 6, 2013

Korea draws Belgium, Russia, and Algeria for the 2014 World Cup

This was my first time actually watching the World Cup draw, and though it was confusing as hell, I was completely spellbound when they started drawing from Pot 3. I thought it'd be cool if Korea got drawn into Group A because we'd get all the added exposure of playing the host nation, Brazil. But that's probably too much pressure against too talented a team, though this is probably one of the most uncertain (though laden with potential) Brazilian teams in quite a while.

I was anxiously hoping to avoid Group D because it already had Uruguay and Italy and looked certain to be a Group of Death. When the paper was unrolled and I saw that the name of the country consisted of more than one word, I was ready to shout out some curses. But thankfully, it turned out to be Costa Rica. Considering that the other team in that group turned out to be England, it is a huge relief that Korea managed to stay out of that group.

I have to feel bad for Australia, though I have a grudge against that team because I remember when they joined the Asian Football Confederation from the Oceania Football Conference back in 2007 and they were all cocky as shit for no real good reason, thinking they'd run roughshod over their Asian opponents. The fact that they've won absolutely zero continental tournaments since then has greatly humbled them, but I still sort of enjoy watching them struggle. Still, it's a death sentence to be grouped with Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile, so I do feel for them. This randomized process can be really unfair and ruin years of hard work.

I'm delighted that Japan is in a relatively easy group as well with Colombia, Greece, and Côte d'Ivoire. Both Korea and Japan progressed to the Round of 16 in 2010, and that helped build up the respect and credibility of Asian football. I hope the two leading Asian teams can do it once again.

And let's not forget about Iran! They actually drew into a group that greatly resembles the group Korea was in 4 years ago, with Argentina and Nigeria. Greece has been swapped for Bosnia & Herzegovina, which likely makes the group stronger considered how bad Greece was in South Africa. As in the last tournament, Argentina should be clear favourites (especially since Maradona is nowhere near the team), but 2nd place should be up for grabs.

Brazil appears to have drawn a relatively easy group that has no peer threat. But Croatia, Mexico, and Cameroon are all quality sides and there's no obvious minnow. However, that often makes groups easier, I think, because without a team that's basically a free victory for everyone, you can count on your opponents cancelling each other out. But if I were Brazil, I'd be worried about the fact that I'd very likely have to play either Spain or the Netherlands in the first knockout match.

It seems awfully convenient that both Switzerland and France drew into arguably the easiest group in the tournament with Ecuador and Honduras. Do I smell a Blatter-Platini conspiracy? This gets even more suspect once you realize how screwed the Anglophone countries of England, the U.S.A., and Australia got in the draw.

The amount of contempt and distrust that people have for Sepp Blatter makes James Dolan
look like Art Rooney

I'm really happy with Korea's draw in a group with Belgium, Russia, and Algeria. No group is ever easy, but considering that we could've easily been Australia or the U.S., we lucked out. Bad news is that if we do make it out alive, we're going to likely have to face either Germany or Portugal. But I think having the chance to slay a giant on the world stage should be relished, because if your team can't win the World Cup, the next best thing is to make a splash by playing spoiler and breaking hearts. I would love Korea to be the team that further delays/prevents the ultimate deification of Cristiano Ronaldo by keeping "World Cup champion" off his resume. Also, it's interesting how this group is almost identical to Japan's group in the 2002 World Cup, except instead of Tunisia, there's Algeria.

And needless to say, the U.S. got the worst draw of them all. Not only do they have to play Germany and Portugal, but the "easy" opponent in their group is Ghana, the team that's knocked the U.S. out in the last 2 World Cups. In fact, Ghana continues to haunt former U.S. manager Bill Bradley as they knocked out Bradley's Egypt in the African qualifiers. I often get irritated by the arrogance of some American fans, such as when they say things like, "The World Cup won't become popular in the U.S. until we win one," as if they're so entitled to a World Cup that they feel that they can grab the trophy without even really caring. Mind you, there are nations, like the Netherlands and Mexico and Portugal and Cameroon and Colombia and Ecuador, who have cared A LOT for a LONG time who have never won one. These fans seem to have cause and effect backwards. I also think that some Americans are hesitant to fully embrace a team sport in which countries like Ghana are legitimate peers, even perhaps superiors at times. Nah, they'd prefer to stick with American football and call themselves "world champions" even though nobody else plays the sport.

The undisputed best QB in the world, beating out all those talented
Russian, Egyptian, and Chinese QBs. Amirite?
But that aside, no national team deserves to be in such a difficult group with such arduous travel conditions in a comfy little place called the Amazon rainforest. But on the bright side, if the U.S. does manage to advance, it'll be a huge story.

No comments :

Post a Comment