Monday, March 26, 2007

Aussies pummel South Africa; Ireland back in business in Euro 2008 qualification!

I can't believe that on Saturday night I made the decision to not watch this game and instead just get up for the Wales - Republic of Ireland Euro 2008 qualifier at 3am. However thankfully I did end watching from the start! A text message woke me up at about 1:15am - being too busy chewing the fat to go back to sleep I decided to get up and watch the start of the match, only to see a brutal opening stand by Hayden and Gilchrist set up a huge total of 377-6. Hayden, although riding his luck on occasion, was simply sublime scoring the fastest ever hundred in a world cup (beating John Davison by 1 ball thanks to an emphatic six down the ground). To think that 18 months previously he appeared on the outer of the Australian side!

At 3am I did switch over to watch the football (flicking back to cricket now and again naturally) !With Ireland being my favourite international football side (behind the All Whites of course!) I'm always very keen to watch them. Of course it also helped my frame of mind that Johnny Douglas was selected in the team. Douglas is of course a Leeds Utd midfielder who recently became captain after the messy Nicholls saga. He's not much of a player but he's tenacious and useful. And its nice to watch a fairly good international side employ a player from the start who plays for the Championship's bottom club (by god it pains me to say that!). Unfortunately his playing on Saturday against Wales and then on Wednesday against Slovakia is not good for Leeds as our game against Preston is on Friday. So it would be nice if he didn't start on Wednesday! Anyway - the Ireland Wales game wasn't the most rip roaring affair but it was satisfying to see Stephen Ireland score the winning goal. It keeps us in with a shot at qualification. With Germany beating the Czechs, we now see Germany top with 13 points with the Czechs and us on 10 (although we have played the extra game). And then we have Slovakia only one point behind us, and with the game in hand! This makes our match up with Slovakia huge! As the match wound up it was great to hear the commentator inform us of a late Scotland goal to take a 2-1 win over Georgia. Hopefully the Scots can avoid defeat against the Italians, keeping them in good shape to secure a surprise qualification.

Who finds it strange that I'm referring to Ireland as us? Well although I'm English I do have a smidgeon of Irish in me. My Mum's Dad's Father was Irish so I guess that makes me 1/16 Irish. And as I feel great affinity with my grandfather on that side, and my mum's maiden name, I feel a strong pull towards Ireland. I feel more patriotic towards them than I do England. I feel a pull towards England but I guess that's more directed towards Yorkshire where I was brought up. Anyway - when I found out that England Israel had been a draw, I wasn't overly concerned and certainly managed to see a bit of the funny side. Steve McClaren is useless by the way. The sooner the FA see that the better for England. I support all the so called home nations! I love Ireland and want to see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do well! I do support England too although its hard to support a football team that containst the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville!

I didn't watch the South Africa innings. Bed came a calling. If the unbelievable game at the Wanderers a year before was anything to go by then the match certainly wasn't over. And the opening stand of 160 odd proved that. However a collapse eventuated and although South Africa made a very good 294, this was still an 83 run loss.

And thankfully I could have a weekend without the stress of Leeds Utd playing!

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