Contributed by: Brett Northey
It's now just a few days before the opening function for the fourth AFL International Cup and some of the teams have begun arriving. South Africa lead the way, touching down in Perth the Friday before last, whilst Sweden had their jumper presentation event in Melbourne last Monday.
The first official duties will be the Captains Launch in Sydney on Friday morning, followed by a Welcome Function at Luna Park beside Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge.
The next morning is Game Day 1 at Blacktown International Sportspark Sydney (BISS). The men's competition kicks off with all sides grouped into 6 pools of 3 teams (based on the AFL's seedings, mostly from IC08 finishing positions). They play a match against each of the other 2 teams in their pool. The games are shortened, 2 halves of 15 minutes, and at the conclusion the bottom side from each pool will form Division Two and the top two teams from each pool will form Division One.
Each Division will be seeded based on the results of this opening day and Division One re-grouped into 4 groups of 3, which will play off amongst themselves (2 matches over 3 game days). Division Two, with 6 teams, has a similar but slightly different pattern.
Meanwhile the Women's Division will get underway Monday 15th August (the second day of men's matches) and have a launch function that evening at BISS. It's a busy day with representatives from each nation starting the day with Morning Tea at the Prime Minister's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House.
But on to the important part - who wins? For a bit of fun the worldfootynews.com crew have come up with their predictions for the final ladder positions for both the men's and women's, and combined the results of all the writers to come up with a consolidated prediction of where the nations will finish. Read on to see who we predict to win the 2011 International Cup.
Six months ago Papua New Guinea were probably red hot favourites to go back-to-back, but after seeing the squad that Ireland have named the WFN writers have been swayed. The combination of 7 writers has Ireland becoming the first nation to twice win the Cup (currently Ireland, New Zealand and PNG all sit on one title each).
In the Women's Division the reality is that we're all flying blind. Most countries have very new female footy programs with very little cross-country matches played. And to add to the difficulty the Australian side is not intended as elite, rather it is drawn from a mix of experienced and brand new players from indigenous and multicultural backgrounds, so even they are an unknown quantity. Nevertheless we've fearlessly had a go, and here is our consolidated view (based on 7 writers contributing):
World Footy News