World Cup fever
Well the World Cup draw
was pretty kind wasn't it and I'm bloody glad we're not stuck in Groups D or G. England have surprisingly never played Algeria, but we may well see both Madjid Bougherra and Hameur Bouazza line up against us in Polokwane. Algeria are rated at 500/1 and Slovenia at 175/1 so we have to be pleased with that and personally I am pretty thrilled to see the USA in our group, which has already allowed me some friendly banter across the water here.
Group's D and G are twin groups of death, D being particularly nightmarish and Group G already has me marking my calendar for 'working from home' days. Remember our 2nd Round match opponent will come out of Group D. Group A looks the easiest on paper, which is convenient for the hosts. One of South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France will represent a quarter final clash against England if we can get there.
Italy are notoriously slow starters but Group F looks a banker for them. Spain may come unstuck against Chile and Honduras in Group H and the Swiss who strolled through qualification will be quietly confident. South Korea could well cause Maradona another case of tourettes in Group B but Holland look like they have a nice path into the last 8.
I reckon all of the African Nations have a chance of 2nd Round qualification although it's two best sides Ivory Coast and Ghana would be legitimate winners if they can come through their 1st Round groups.
I thought usually the groups, and in particular the seeded teams are based around one or two locations to avoid the need to travel great distances but in South Africa it looks like the games in each group are spread all over. The BBC calculates that England have to travel over 1,300 miles from their starting point at Rustenburg (a beautiful platinum mining centre 1,850 metres above sea level high up in the countries north-west corner by the way) to their 2nd and 3rd group games.
Anyway, that has certainly wet the whistle, the excitement built quite nicely sat at my desk this afternoon and I can't way until June 11th.
Group's dates, times and venues here