SportsProf

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Northern Ireland 1, England 0

(Original Post: 6:00 p.m. September 7, 2005; updated below).

Read all about it.

The struggling English team now has to beat Austria and Poland to qualify for World Cup 2006. In their next game they'll have to do so without their young striker, Wayne Rooney, who got his second yellow card in as many games and, as a result, has to sit out the next match.

Northern Ireland was ranked #116 in the world at the time of the match. (U.S. sports fans should view this upset akin to say Temple's beating Miami in Philadelphia).

The English coached might get sacked (or tossed or pitched, depending on whose vernacular you use) if the team doesn't fare better on the pitch -- and soon.

The best teams in the world blend together tons of talent to create the superpowers that are Real Madrid, Chelsea, AC Milan, etc. It's a harder challenge for national teams, some of whom who have to try to blend together amazing talent, when that talent actual has real jobs -- the teams that pay them tons of Euros to ply their craft. Many countries have tons of talent, so before you say that the talent will always win, they have to work to play well together.

There are many powers in the world of soccer, the established ones like Brazil, Argentina, England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and the up-and-coming ones, like the United States and, down the road, China, by virtue of population alone. Those who make the final eight aren't always the most talented teams, but they are the teams that are playing the best soccer at the moment. That's a tribute to both the coach and the players, all of whom take great pride in winning this tournament. It's just that they don't have the time to choreograph their efforts for their countries the way they do in the premier leagues in Europe.

I can only imagine the headlines in the English papers tomorrow morning, but they'll be for the ages. Somehow, I think that many a Northern Irelander will still be up to greet his morning paper delivery person, as the celebrations will go on through the night.

They'll be talking about this one in London -- and Londonderry -- for a long time.

Update: Click here for what the English papers had to say about last night's game. I spoke with an acquaintance in London today, and I asked how brutal the headlines were on the back pages (i.e., the sports pages). His reply: "Back pages? Are you kidding me? This is front-page stuff. And it's brutal." First time England lost to Northern Ireland on the road in 72 years.

1 Comments:

Blogger steveh2 said...

Not to be too picky, but England doesn't actually need to win both to qualify. They need to win both to AUTOMATICALLY qualify. They have already clinched at least a spot in the playoffs, and according to an ESPN Soccernet article, they may also automatically qualify (as one of the top two second-place teams) if they get four points from their last two matches.

11:52 AM  

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