Socceroos, England will be an epic encounter
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Could June 26, 2010, be the biggest day in Australian sporting history? The Americas Cup win in 1983, Cathy Freeman’s run at the Olympics in 2000, and Kieren Perkins 1500 meter triumph in the pool at the Atlanta games, could soon be joined or even surpassed in Australian sporting lore.
The venue for the biggest event in the nation’s sporting history? Not the MCG or Flemington Raceway, but the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, on the outskirts of Rustenburg, South Africa.
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek or any of his media savvy players will tell you they are only focused their group matches or even first-up opponent Germany. But as fans, we can contemplate what might lie ahead and salivate at the prospect of a meeting with the old enemy, England.
The equation is simple.
If England tops group C, as expected, and Australia can book a place in the round of 16 behind the Germans, the stage will be set.
Two nations a world apart, but eternally linked, will stop. Citizens will collectively draw breath and every Ashes match will pale in significance.
Both countries are mesmerized by the now constant stream of Ashes series, but a knockout game at the World Cup presents a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance to strike a devastating blow to the pride of ‘the mother country’.
The English have made public their desire, above all else, to beat Australia: in particular, at the London 2012 games, but even that would not redeem a World Cup defeat in the game of their creation.
Last time the two sides met, in a 2003 ‘friendly’ international at London’s Upton Park, the Aussies triumphed 3-1, but the English shrugged off the result as meaningless.
There would be no escaping the result in South Africa.
Historically, that match saw the debut of England’s youngest ever international – Wayne Rooney, who would later turn villain in 2006 after being sent off as the English exited yet another World Cup.
He will again carry their hopes in 2010.
As a spectacle, the match-up would capture the country’s imagination like nothing else. As a conquest, it would be Australia’s greatest of all time.
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