Football's coming home
The World Cup
suddenly hit me today like a Talal El Karkouri free-kick. My son was at home wearing his new top, and putting the bunting up in his bedroom, I stuck my wallchart up in the office and did my predictions and scribbled each game into my diary so I could plan the next four weeks of my life accordingly.
44 years of hurt then but it's hard to see an England victory, in fact it's hard to see beyond Spain and Brazil although I do have England making the semi-finals along with Argentina.
I hope that the African countries proceed a long way through the competition. Nigeria look to have a decent path to the quarters and Cameroon led by Samuel Eto'o should be a threat in the 2nd Round.
Drogba needs to be fit for the Ivory Coast to live up to their billing, but they have a bloody tough group to navigate first and finishing 2nd in Group G will probably pair them with Spain. How's your luck? And you have Sven-Goran Eriksson as your manager too!
Ghana are bound to miss Michael Essien and I think Serbia will be too strong for the Black Stars in Group D, which like Group G has churned up a fantastic set of games.
I have 400/1 shots Slovakia qualifying from Group F and I think the USA may well toil to qualify from our group. Beyond the starting XI the American's look desperately light and goals may well be a problem. I have Slovenia joining England in the 2nd Round.
I also allowed my heart to rule my head and have the hosts make it into the last 16. South Africa will need beat Mexico to give themselves every opportunity but I reckon the French will choke under Raymond Domenech.
In Group H, Chile had a strong qualification and include the prolific Suazo and I expect they will join favourites Spain where they no doubt will face fellow South American's Brazil in the Round of 16.... when did it become the Round of 16, at the same time as winningest
Nani was the latest player to succumb to injury today
and I'm finding it disappointing that so many top players might be missing. The next four weeks is a football pitch sized catwalk of the world's best players. Some will end the tournament with their names etched in our memories forever as adults revere them and kids copy them up the park.
Others will be disappointments and won't live up to our expectations, whereas there will be a host of players that will come out of the shadows of squads and become household names and probably no doubt expensive Premier League signings by August.
Bring it on!