Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Get a load of this: there are World Cup qualifiers being played today!
Who knew? Not I!
The big guns of Asian football got their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaigns off to a flying start today with Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea all securing convincing wins.
But there were slow starts for two of the top Gulf teams, with Iran held to a disappointing goalless draw with part-timers Syria and Asian Cup holders Iraq sharing the points in their home Group One match with China.
Top-ranked Australia looked to have put last year's miserable Asian Cup debut behind them when they trounced Qatar 3-0 in Melbourne to make the early Group One headway, and Saudi Arabia set the pace in Group Five after beating Singapore 2-0 in Riyadh.
South Korea, Asia's most successful World Cup team, began their path towards their seventh successive finals with a 4-0 win over unfancied Turkmenistan, while Japan froze out their opponents from tropical Thailand with a 4-1 win in icy Saitama.
As the African Cup of Nations winds down, the winds of the soccer world shift to World Cup qualifying.
Did I mention I somehow want to make it to South Africa for the final game?
Before we head out, a word about the famed Busby Babes who tragically died 50 years ago today.
For those that don't know, the Babes were a group of Manchester United players who progressed from the club's youth team into the first team under Sir Matt Busby's management in the mid-1950's. They were notable not only for being young and gifted but for being developed by Manchester United, rather than bought from other clubs as was then in vogue.
Unfortunately, eight of the Babes died in an air disaster in Munich 1958. The accident took place 50 years ago today, February 6, 1958, when British Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at the Munich-Riem airport in Munich, West Germany after a European Cup match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The plane had landed in Munich to refuel.
On board the plane was the Manchester United football team along with a number of supporters and journalists. Twenty-three of the 44 passengers on board the aircraft died in the crash.
It is one of the gravest disasters in football history and still haunts many people today. Pundits have always wondered what could have been had the Babes stayed together and matured under Busby.
Busby nearly died but survived and resumed managerial duties the following season. He eventually built a second generation of Busby Babes, including the legendary George Best and Denis Law. They went on to win the European Cup a decade after the disaster in 1968, beating Benfica in the Final. Crash survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes played for the 1968 team as well.
Our prayers go out to the survivors and perished today, the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.