WFN Poll #5 - "Who will win the 2005 International Cup"
Monday, April 11 2005 @ 11:31 pm ACST
Contributed by: Matthew Guthrie
There was a total of 431 responses to this poll with results indicating that USA (24%), Ireland (19%), New Zealand (16%) and Papua New Guinea (13%) and Canada (11%) will go into the tournament rated highly among WFN readers and their peers.
The USA has shown the strongest support in this poll. The USA finished 5th in the Inaugural Cup. WFN has a large readership of Americans, with support from home and abroad, indications for 2005 are that the improvement made over the past few years have been significant and there is a belief that the USA will be contenders for the title this year.
Ireland and Papua New Guinea were the finalists in 2002 and appear to still show strong support from the International football community as contenders for the title while New Zealand, Canada and Denmark appear to have developed their leagues and players to a level that has evoked considerable backing in this WFN poll.
Ireland came out of the last International Cup as the surprise team that went through undefeated to win. Results from this poll suggest that they won’t have this "unknown" luxury this time around with 19% of respondents predicting another big tournament from the Irish. With a strong background in Gaelic Football and another couple of seasons of Australian Rules under their belt pollsters have voted in support of another strong showing.
Strong support also for Papua New Guinea who went very close to winning last time. The junior program is very active and they probably have the largest numbers in the world (outside of Australia), with reports of around 20,000! An effective talent identification program has already seen several teenage players have seasons in the Cairns AFL (in far north Queensland).
New Zealand have several players in Australian leagues, and good exposure to AFL in their country so expectations among respondents for the Kiwi’s to perform well are high with 16% of voters predicting a New Zealand win.
There appears to be some confidence shown with the Canadians to win this tournament also. They have been training regularly and have the advantage of having most players based around Ontario to train together for the National squad.
Other nations to register votes in this poll Denmark (5%), Great Britain (4%), Japan (2%), Spain (3%), Nauru (0.5%), Samoa (1%) and South Africa (2%) all have their followers who have hopes of lifting the cup. It's interesting to compare all these numbers with the rankings of the World Footy News writers, who earlier this year collectively put PNG as favourites over Ireland, with NZ and the USA close behind.