Sunday, 15 June 2008

Socceroos one step closer to South Africa 2010

With the win in the early morning (my time) over Qatar (with the final score being 3-1), the Socceroos have secured a place in the 4th round of the AFC qualification campaign for South Africa 2010. The reassuring aspect about being in the position is that the result of Australia's next match against China does not affect their qualification. Of course it would be better if they won, but with Qatar and Iraq both currently on 7 points, and playing each other next, the best they can do is to equal the points Australia is currently on - and only one of them will advance.

As long as the Socceroos do not "fall asleep at the wheel", there is a good chance they will qualify for South Africa 2010. Currently, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC - which Australia is now apart of), has 4.5 spots at the next World Cup. The reason for the 0.5 place is that the 3rd place teams from the 4th round of qualification (in the AFC) will compete against each other to challenge the champion of qualification of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC - which Australia used to be apart of). The place from the APC-OFC play-off will not be determined until November 2009.

This leads me to ask - why is there an OFC at all? It's always been very difficult to qualify from the region, as the competition has been low, and the first real taste of competition is when the OFC champion competes against the "best of the losers" from some other confederation. Australia was talented and lucky enough to beat Uruguay in 2005 (via penalty shoot-out) to qualify for Germany 2006, but I don't understand why it has to be that way. The team coming out of the OFC will always be under prepared compared to any other teams coming out of the AFC or Confederaci├│n Sudamericana de F├║tbol (CONMEBOL - South American Football Confederation). My suggestion is to merge the OFC into the AFC. Then the AOFC could be allocated the 5th place at the World Cup qualifications going forward.

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