In all the fuss about Al Khawaja and the sectarian issues in the parliament (which all they've been good for is putting a good spectacle so that we don't get to bored; nothing of any usefulness has come out of them), one extremely important but unfotunately unnoticed event has occured: Bahrain now has more than a 50% chance of qualifying to the next football world cup!
We have been able to succesfully negotiate ourselves through the preliminary phases, emerging on top as well as unbeaten in our group. Yes, the opposition was Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and the main threat was Syria, but we're through none the less. Now comes the hard and more exciting part.
Eight teams have qualified to the final round: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and Iran. The format is as follows: The teams will be divided into two groups (the draw will occur early next month), where they play two-leg matches against each of the other teams on a home and away basis. Four of these teams automatically qualify to the next world cup (the top two teams from each group). Added to this, the third placed teams will play against each other in a play off, and the winner plays against the winner of the North and Central America playoffs winner. If that team should succeed, they advance to the world cup 2006 in Germany.
I don't know about you guys, but that's basically 4.5 teams out of eight that will qualify to Asia to the world cup. That gives us more than a 50% chance!!!! And what with our opposition being weaklings like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and North Korea (I'm sure they're saying the same thing about us)? We've never had a better chance!
A lot of our probability of succeeding depends on the luck of the draw, and we usually don't have much luck with that. The eight teams have been classified into 4 different levels (two teams in each level), and only one team from each level goes into each group. The levels are (in descending order): Japan and South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain and Kazakhstan, Kuwait and North Korea.
Although there is not much difference, I'd personally prefer to play against South Korea than Japan, since South Korea have been on bad form recently (they barely qualified). It would be nice to avenge our defeat to the Japanese in the Asian cup, but it's better to be pragmatic. How about Saudi Arabia and Iran? If someone wants to be pragmatic as well, then Saudi Arabia is the preferred opponent, since they've also had a torrid season, and it would be possible to go to the matches in Saudi! However, one would like to see both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain qualify, out of Gulf unity. As to Kuwait and North Korea, well, they're both shit at football, so it doesn't bother me, although, once again, it would be nice to see Kuwait qualify as well.
How great would it be if Bahrain qualified to the world cup? Sod the formula 1, who gives a toss about that compared to the greatest sporting event on earth (formula 1 has become boring nowadays anyway, the people who get the most kick out of it are computer geeks who like to discuss the latest electronic mechanisms ferrari have installed. The driving has taken second seat.) Maybe I should get my Schengen visa sorted from now.