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Where, what and why, bloody Schumacher!
Crystal Palace – Crewe 1-3
Crystal Palace – Nottingham Forrest 1-0
Check Republic, Holland, Romania, Finland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra
I hate Michael Schumacher. This Formula 1 driver is not a good man – for us Finnish people anyway. Not just has he been lately driven faster than Finnish drivers in the Formula 1 but he was also there last week drawing the next football World Cup qualification groups. With all respect to his sports achievements he was quite crap at lifting the balls from the cups. I am not happy at all about the draw.
The draw was not given much of an importance and attention here in England. Why? Probably because here it is not important. After all England is one of the greatest football nations. It has traditions, exciting and competitive leagues, loads of world class players and the quality to beat anyone. England has a good reason to be proud of their national team and they can trust them to do the business no matter what. So who England plays against is not a problem.
It is not quite the same for a Finnish footballer. It would be naïve to say that no matter who we get, we would win them all. For the small countries like Finland the draw is very important. This time our group is Check Republic, Holland, Romania, Finland, Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra. I think it is fair to say the luck and that German driver wasn’t favourable to us at this time. That is why I hate him. Although I am sure they wouldn’t have even finished the draw if it had been made by David Coulthard. Anyways qualifying now from this group is quite a tall order. And yet again quite a tour around the Europe.
That actually seems to be one of the only issues for English people in this draw, the geography. English people know their game but not their map. This time the luck was kind and interesting to the fans since there were two other British teams in the same group so it is bit easier to find them. However one of the ever so great tabloid papers didn’t do so well demonstrating England’s group with graphics. From European map they had managed to correctly find Northern Ireland and Wales but were struggling with two other teams in the group, Austria and Poland. Instead they had painted Germany and Switzerland. Hmmm, not quite the same. I hope none of the fans will book their tickets based on this information.
I am sure England will find their opponents. Finland instead is only recently starting to find itself from the football map at all. We are not considered anymore as guaranteed easy but cold three points. Obviously we are still going to be the underdogs, sometimes even not rated at all. Dutch national team manager Dick Advocaat summed it up by commenting the draw by saying that it is a hard group because even Iceland is a good team. I bet England is never been confused to Islands of Man. Maybe this ex-Rangers manager just lived too long in Britain to loose his geography as well.
The draw was made by using the seating system. All teams are ranked based on their results over recent years. So better you have been, the easier it will be. England has the luxury of getting only lower rated opponents because they are among the best 8 seated countries. Overall the luck gave England weaker sides from each seating as well. I would have actually wanted to be in English group. Not only that then I could net one at Anfield again but it is actually one of the easiest groups in my humble opinion. In modern football even big countries like England will have to be aware of all the Azerbaijans but I bet England is going to make it easy from this one.
Finland was left with not The Mount Everest but quite a big hill to climb anyway. I like to put the blame on Schumacher but it really is the system that is killing us. I feel that many weaker sides than us have so much better position to compete. We have now the best national team ever and we have got decent results over last few years. However the earlier results are still letting us down and we are seated only in the fourth category, which means that we will get three better-ranked teams. So making the World Cup we have to overachieve at least in six games plus we are expected to also win over the Macedonians and Armenians.
England is laughing by getting only weaker opponents. For all the middle and lower ranked nations the draw is always harder. And being better seated and so getting a better chance in a draw it requires good results over many years. That is not easy for small countries with limited amount of talents coming through simultaneously. Furthermore you always have to get the required results from good teams because your seating always gives you tougher groups.
However I still understand the reasons for this system. It keeps the level of the finals higher and more interesting when the most quality teams have better chance getting there and not cancelling each other out already at the qualifications stages. If the whole draw was completely arbitrary and everyone was seated the same it would make too big of an importance to luck. That couldn’t be right. It could mean that even countries like Samoa, Fidji and New Zealand could qualify to play for the World Championship, what kind of massive sport event that could be!
England can win the next World Cup, for Finland the championship would be even to get there. It is quite a long time to 2006 so we still have a plenty of time to think ways to make it work out. I actually think England should do some precautions already now. Since the family trees are such a loose thing here and getting the football citizenship is easy, England should make sure any dangerous connections to enemies wouldn’t happen. That would mean to prevent the promising youngsters choosing to be Welsh or Northern Irish. It is still three years to World Cup and you never know how good youngsters will turn out to be so it would be a kind of guarantee if all these talents would be given a full England cap by arranging training games against Tuvalu or something like that. Anyways there being three British sides at the same group is going to be interesting. It can work for them or against them.
Playing in the World Cup is a big dream for every footballer. It surely is my biggest dream. Since I was six I have always wanted to be there, play Finland and myself to the map of the world. I have so many times played that tournament at back gardens, in my head and in my dreams. Wearing my countries colours at the biggest sport event in the world, that dream is the sweetest of all feelings. Football is a great game at any level and day, but it is not the same to play against Burnley away than Brazil at the World Cup.
I am very grateful to all the clubs I have ever played for and I have lot of feelings to all of them. However there is no better feeling than putting the national team shirt on. And anybody who has not experienced it can’t understand what it feels like. To play for your country, to present the colours you are from, that is truly unbelievable. Even better it is if you can do it at the biggest sports competition in the world. I can’t imagine anything better.
However I still have to use only my imagination, because me, or Finland have never been there. English people don’t need to imagine. Almost every time England has qualified, been there, done it. In England it is considered normal, that is how it should be. No matter who is in the qualification group, leaving out would be the biggest disgrace here. In Finland it would be just another four years gone.
I don’t know if it also goes through any seating system but I am quite sure Finland will never host the World Cup. So my only hope is to qualify. And that would be easier if Michael Schumacher weren’t involved with the future draws. I think Mika Häkkinen should do it!
This time I recommend:
1. Geography lessons
- Just in case if You want to go somewhere to support Your team-
- A person without dreams is like a bird without wings -
I do not recommend:
1. Tabloid papers
- That is if you can read, otherwise they serve they purpose -
2. Group A in next World Cup qualifications
- It is hard task for anyone to try to get the second place behind Finland -
" Allea acta est "
-Ceasar, with Akis dodgy Latin