It was December 6th and the tension was mounting. All over the world, nations who had qualified for Brazil 2014 saw their fate being decided by a few sharp-suited footballing legends of yesteryear back in the limelight once again.
Although the BBC had managed to spare us most of the tedious build up, the hosts still managed to reach dangerously high levels of irritation, leaving us screaming at the TV.
However, when they did get down to business they did so swiftly and we didn’t have to wait long before we started to cry.
When it came to picking the last teams in the groups I moved to the edge of my seat waiting to see where England would be drawn.
As the draw reached Group D I prayed that England’s name wouldn’t be in that tiny football….but it was, and we joined Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, with our first game to be played in the Amazon rainforest where humidity is consistently around 99%.
My thoughts at that moment? Bloody hell.
After literally hearing the collective groan up and down the country (and the cheers from Scotland) we all began to digest the situation. The overwhelming and only sentiment being “Will we even get to the second round?”
Who knows the answer to that question? Personally, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. The tricky first game in Manaus will see Italy in the same boat as us with regards to the intense weather, so there will be no clear advantage there, except that the Italians are much better than us.
Had that game been against Uruguay, it would have been a different story, with the South Americans being used to the humidity AND being much better than us.
The minnows of the group, Costa Rica, are the only team that we should beat on paper, but that means absolutely nothing when it comes to England.
To sum up, the nation has zero expectations of our boys now. But this could be the key, as this lack of pressure may prove to be the secret to our success.
Having to play two of the best countries in the world (with no extra burdens) from the outset could possibly work in our favour.
Here’s hoping it will force Roy’s boys to have that winning mindset from the very first game…to the very last game. Otherwise known as the World Cup final.
Written by Umarah Naz