Aussies must be on guard

Geelong Advertiser - - SOCCER - RYAN REYNOLDS COM­MENT

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.

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