Last night's World Cup qualifiers threw up a set of very strange results; England losing to Northern Ireland - more commonly referred to as "Northern Ireland Nil" due to their inability to score, whilst Israel failed their usual mission to disappoint us by taking all 3 points against the Faroe Islands. It now appears that on current form, Israel's chances of qualifying are almost as good if not better than England's.
In the meantime I've found myself dismissing England's performance with the argument that "I'm only interested in cricket these days" - how the worm has turned (although at lunchtime on the first day of the final test I was looking for other excuses).
The truth however is somewhat more distressing - I find myself with an interest in the fates of two underachieving international teams; England, on paper, always seem to be on the verge of something special (Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Owen, Ferdinand, Neville (?)) but always manage to add to the 30 years of hurt. Israel meanwhile, will put in stellar performances against teams who should wipe the floor with them and then lose to a team of amateurs from an obscure republic the size of a postage stamp.
England are still up to their usual tricks with last night's loss leading to calls for manager Sven Goran Eriksson's dismissal. Israel on the other hand seem at last to have some steel in their backbone and fire in their belly with one unlikely result after another. The Faroe Islands (again) should prove a low hurdle to straddle but Israel will be hoping their closest rivals' results go the right way whilst England will find themselves up against their perennial nemesis - Poland. What odds on our cheering Benayoun rather than Beckham in Berlin?