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11:02 AM Thursday Sep 4, 2014
Are the hosts of the next year’s Rugby World Cup playing mind games with the All Blacks?
First we suffered the indignity of no All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup ad.
Now, it seems, the organisers of the World Cup are keen to pretend New Zealand doesn’t even exist.
An email promoting “21 Days before tickets go on sale” features a map of the world at the bottom that doesn’t include New Zealand.
Even though the map is a small part of the artwork, and only features at the foot of the email, it is a bit embarrassing seeing as The All Blacks are the holders of the cup and number one in International Rugby Board and that New Zealand hosted the last World Cup.
But before All Black fans get too excited: the map also leaves off the host nation: England and the rest of the UK are nowhere to be found.
Yesterday the World Cup organisers explained the lack of All Blacks in the ad, saying current and former players were approached to do it, but declined the offer.
We decided to even the score and redraw the map, according the IRB rankings:
1 All Blacks; 2 South Africa; 3 Australia; 4 England; 5 Ireland; 6 Wales; 7 France; 8 Scotland; 9 Samoa; 10 Japan.
Source : The New Zealand Herald
September 4, 2014 – 3:55AM
Regardless of local expectation, Belgium players insist they won’t be taking the Socceroos lightly in their friendly match.
Belgian media and fans have been talking up the World Cup quarter-finalists’ chances of a comfortable win in Liege on Thursday, despite the side missing several key men through injury.
Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini are among the big guns missing, while captain and centre-back Vincent Kompany looks highly likely to be ruled out with a calf problem.
Marc Wilmots’ squad still boasts a wealth of depth and talent and will start the match raging favourites but, like most observers, Belgium believe the Socceroos were much better at the World Cup than results showed.
“They were in a difficult group so it was quite hard,” Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen said on Wednesday.
“I think they did well, especially against Holland. I think it was maybe the toughest (group) game for Holland.
“We want a good game and hopefully build up to the (2016 Euro qualifiers) and Australia is a good opponent for us.”
Unsurprisingly, Belgium have identified Tim Cahill as their biggest threat, having been left in awe of his heroics for Australia in Brazil.
Vertonghen described the New York Red Bulls star as “one of the great strikers in the air” while central defender Toby Alderweireld also singled out the 34-year-old as the biggest attacking danger.
“I thought they (Australia) were very good at the World Cup, very physical,” recent Southampton signing Alderweireld said.
“They have a lot of quality in the front with Cahill, he scored an amazing goal against Holland, so I think it’s a good challenge for us.”
Belgium were to use the match as a tune-up for their first Euro qualifier, against Israel in Jerusalem five days later, however UEFA agreed to push back the match until March 31 next year due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Alderweireld denied the match had lost any of its importance for Belgium.
“At home we have to win, that’s our strategy,” he said.
“We have fantastic supporters and we want to give them something even though it’s a friendly game.”
Kompany missed training with the squad in Anderlecht on Wednesday after hurting his calf a day earlier.
In good news for his club Manchester City, scans confirmed the problem isn’t serious, however it appears highly unlikely he will be risked for a friendly match.
© 2014 AAP
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Source : The Sydney Morning Herald