Aussies must be on guard
THERE is no divine right to be at a World Cup.
If you needed any proof of that then you only need to rewind back to yesterday.
Italy — a nation that has been at every World Cup since 1958 — will be sitting at home twiddling its thumbs when it’s time to head to Russia next year.
Surely that’s a once off? You know, most of the best teams getting around make the World Cup right? Not in 2018.
No Chile. No Netherlands. No USA.
And if you want further proof that no nation is certain of a World Cup spot then rewind to 2005.
It was Uruguayan striker Alvaro Recoba who famously muttered “we’re a big country with a big past and we’ve got a right to play” in the lead up to the second leg clash against Australia.
“Uruguay has a divine right to play,” he added. “Uruguay is Uruguay.” We all know what happened next.
Call it karma, call it luck, Uruguay got slapped in the face that night.
Ironically when Australia walks out against Honduras tonight it will be 12 years to the day since that famous penalty shootout win over Uruguay.
It’s a timely reminder that even though the Socceroos are well placed to progress through to Russia, nothing is certain.
The Hondurans showed little on their home deck on Saturday, but with perfect conditions and pace to burn they will cause the Australian defence problems.
There is an air of formality around tonight’s game. Are the fans getting too confident?
We all think Australia has the quality to progress and all things being equal should do so. But the Uruguayans, Italians, Dutch and the Yanks would all have been saying the same.
Russia 2018 is growing a reputation as the World Cup of upsets. The Socceroos can’t afford to be its next victim.