Over the next week there's going to be alot of column inches taken up by the 2010 FIFA World Cup draw, which took place in Cape Town on Friday evening. At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, The Cynical Challenge is going to be no exception.
Much of the fallout from the draw has revolved around a limited number of topics. Will Brazil emerge unscathed from their "Group of Death"? Will France wilt in the face of a partisan South African crowd in their final group game? Will there ever again be a drawmaster as attractive and brilliantly irreverent as Charlize Theron?
But even though this blog is essentially covering the same story as every other sporting publication on the planet, The Cynical Challenge likes to be a bit different. So below is a list (they're all the rage at the moment) of some of the more alternative questions to be asked following the draw.
Will Honduras have another Football War?
Back in 1969 Honduras and El Salvador went to war in the immediate aftermath of a World Cup play-off match, a conflict which was dubbed the Football War. Not that it's surprising that sport can spark off military conflict - for instance, some writers, among them Jonathan Wilson in his superb Behind the Curtain, have suggested that the war in the Former Yugoslavia really begun after fans of Partizan Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb clashed during a league match in 1990. Still, Honduras have been drawn alongside fellow Spanish-speaking nations Chile and Spain, a rivalry which is being stoked up by the Honduran media. "The Spanish think we are Cinderella...the weakest team in their group," Honduran newspaper La Prensa reported on Saturday. There could be fireworks.
Will anyone have any national loyalties in Group D?
Germany, Serbia, Australia, Ghana. Four proud nations with well-defined national identities. Pity some of these countries' players, though, who must have a few divided loyalties as a result of the draw. Germany's Jérome Boateng, born in Berlin, is of dual Ghanaian-German nationality. The parents of Australia's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer emigrated from Germany in the 1960s, while his compatriot Danny Vukovic is of Serbian descent. Serbia's Neven Subotic was born in Banja Luka but brought up in Baden-Württemburg, Germany. And Ghana's national coach is Milovan Rajevac, who is from...Serbia. Phew.
How many goals will be scored in the Ivory Coast - Brazil game?
20th June 2010, Johannesburg. Mark the date in your diary. The attacking might of Brazil versus the power of Ivory Coast's forward line. Kaká, Luis Fabiano, Robinho, Alexandre Pato. Didier Drogba, Bakari Koné, Salomon Kalou, Abdel-Kader Keïta. It could conceivably finish 4-4. Making predictions is a tricky business, but it would be a real surprise if this wasn't one of the most entertaining group games in South Africa.
How many Air Miles will Holland's fans clock up?
Johannesburg on 14th June, Durban five days later, and then over to Cape Town on 24th June. Approximate travelling distance 2100km. That's after the 12 hour plane journey to actually reach South Africa. The Dutch tend to bring a jovial travelling support, but anyone would be forgiven for getting crabby on such a long trip.
And finally...will Ireland ever stop talking about the Henry handball incident?