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Australia are as much as two games away from contesting the Unofficial Football World Championships.
Running in parallel and within the looming 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the Unofficial Football World Championships (UFWC) will most likely transfer to a new title holder before the FIFA World Cup Final on 15 July.
You would be forgiven for thinking such a championship came about over a pub discussion and it could very well have begun as such.
Journalist Paul Brown defined the rules of the contest in 2003 for an article in FourFourTwo magazine after much discussion on who the original world champions were.
While this revolved around Scottish fans claiming the ‘Unofficial World Champions’ tag after inflicting England’s first defeat after their 1966 World Cup triumph, Brown took it right back to the first full international match – which just happened to be between England and Scotland – as the epoch for the title.
Much of Brown’s work is found on the official website of the Unofficial Football World Championships which details that England were the first to claim the title after defeating Scotland 4-2 in 1873 (the second ever full international after the first between the two was a 0-0 draw).
It is well worth a look but to bring you back to why Australia is in contention, the current title holder is Peru.
That’s right: Australia’s Group C opponent are the current champions.
Peru have held the CW Alcock Cup – named after an FA secretary with a role in developing international football – since end of August 2017 where they gained the title with a 2-1 defeat of Bolivia in Lima.
Styled after knock-out boxing matches, the champion country holds the title until defeated meaning draws also help retain the title.
Peru’s unbeaten run since August 2017 has taken in CONMEBOL and intercontinental World Cup qualification, and ‘exhibition’ (friendly) matches.
Their latest game result on 09 June, 0-0 against fellow FIFA World Cup contestants Sweden, allowed Peru to enter the tournament as reigning champions.
With Peru considered dark horses for Round of 16 they can potential hold the title for a few more matches at least.
In coming up against Denmark in their opening Group C match on 16 June, Peru’s first title defence will decide whether Australia will contest for the championship against Denmark in their second Group C game on 21 June, should Peru falter at the first hurdle.
Otherwise Australia will be hoping Peru can topple or hold out one of the FIFA World Cup tournament favourites in France in their second Group C game. This will be Australia’s only other chance of gaining the CW Alcock Cup for the second time in it’s history when they would meet in the final Group C game on 27 June.
Australia’s first and only time they were champions was in 13 June 1992, where the Socceroos defeated USA via the games only goal by Warren Spink.
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Australia lost their first UFWC title defence in their next game against Argentina on 18 June, losing 2-0.
Australia would next get to compete for the tile against the Netherlands in October 2009 (‘lost’ with a 0-all draw), while another notable game was against North Korea in December 2012 (‘lost’ with a 1-all draw in the East Asian Cup Semi Final Competition).
But the most famous of all contests for Australia was the 2011 Asian Cup Final where the Socceroos lost 1-0 to Japan with that 109th minute strike by Tadanari Lee. This was the first time in the UFWC’s 139-year history the Asian and Unofficial World Football Champion titles became jointly contested in the same match.
While written off by many pundits, Australia has a great chance of progressing in the FIFA World Cup, and becoming the latest Unofficial Football World Champions.