Contributed by: Brett Northey
With the 2011 AFL International Cup still fresh in our minds this author has reviewed each of the 23 competing teams, offering some brief personal thoughts on how each side went relative to expectations.
The article also summarises the finishing position and seeding of each nation, and compared it with the worldfootynews.com staff consolidated prediction (votes of the authors) published just prior to the tournament.
The finishing positions for the men's 2011 AFL International Cup. On average we were out by exactly 1 position, with the worst prediction being Canada, which finished 10th rather than our consolidated tip of 7th. Note that the WFN rank includes Australia at number one and was prior to the tournament.
|Finished||Seeded||WFN Tip||WFN Rank||Team||Comment|
|1||4||1||4||Ireland||Supplanted PNG as favourites when teams were announced, players based in Australia strengthened them considerably, deserved undefeated winners, first nation to win twice.|
|2||1||2||2||Papua New Guinea||Seeded 1st, grand finalists at every IC, rocked by tragedy on tournament eve. Would've been worthy winners and now having lost 3 of 4 grand finals tough to take. Still an excellent effort.|
|3||2||3||3||New Zealand||A little off the top pace, will be disappointed not to make top 2. Most worrying would be the size of semi-final loss to Ireland. Seemed less reliable in structure. Good junior program should see a quick rebound.|
|4||7||6||6||USA||Excellent and surprising result to make semi-finals, improvement has come not through juniors or strong growth but experience of players in Australia. Need more juniors or elite athlete recruitment to go all the way.|
|5||3||4||8||South Africa||Suspicion pre-tournament that their rapid rise would stop, will be very disappointed to have slipped backwards relative to its peers. Next generation will need to step up, and players will need experience in Australia to crack the top 2.|
|6||5||5||5||Nauru||Impressive 2008 meant big expectations, but started slowly. Finished well but never threatened the top 4. A very good team but small population may limit ability to go all the way.|
|7||9||8||10||Great Britain||An inexperienced side that was inconsistent but ultimately finished well including a dynamic burst against Denmark. Should be pleased with the result and look to be slowly building, will need to keep a focus on speed.|
|8||10||9||7||Denmark||Very much a European style that doesn't seem able to keep up with the faster running nature of some teams. Never really fired but would be happy to finish higher than 2008. May have expected better as the Farum youth come into their prime.|
|9||12||10||-||Tonga||On debut any win would be a bonus, to finish clear of bottom in Division 1 was impressive and these explosive athletes look set to move up the ladder rapidly.|
|10||6||7||12||Canada||A disappointing outcome given solid growth at home. Seem to lack a real weapon such as pace or power, and experience playing in Australia would be helpful. Will particularly feel aggreived to finish so far adrift of their North American neighbours.|
|11||11||11||11||Sweden||A solid performance and clearly played better than 2008, but the competition standard continues to rise rapidly.|
|12||8||13||14||Japan||Have always struggled at this tournament and did so again. Lucky to squeeze into Division 1 and may find it hard to stay there again with the rising Pacific nations and difficulty growing the game. However given the tragedies to befall Japan this year it was a great effort to assemble a side and travel to Australia.|
|13||14||12||-||Fiji||Unlucky to miss Division 1 when their star player was unavailable early, but on debut have easily won Division 2. Stacked with young potential with physiques to make AFL scouts excited, a rapid rise is expected.|
|14||18||14||-||France||On debut brought great fun to IC11 but also played some couregous and solid football. Outgunned physically by Fiji in the Division 2 grand final but a welcome addition widely appreciated.|
|15||13||16||-||Peace Team||Once again captured the bulk of the media attention and have an agenda of peace that sets them apart so cannot be measured on football alone. But the squad had a core of returning players and excellent athletes and surprised with some improved footy.|
|16||17||18||-||India||Although not on debut it was a fairly fresh squad with footy "re-booted" since IC08. Still learning the game but take away a treasured win and hopefully can now spread the game. Local leagues must start up to progress the sport.|
|17||16||15||-||China||Similar to India and a little unlucky not to finish a spot higher. Finished with 2 wins and will have enjoyed the 2 division split. Hopefully can return in 3 years having widened the player base.|
|18||15||17||-||Timor-Leste||On debut and very inexperienced the diminutive Timorese battled manfully and showed some footy skills but sadly leave without a win. Can take solace that several nations have performed similarly first up and gone on to rise up the ladder quickly.|
Note that the women's division was played for the first time and as such the AFL randomly seeded the teams, and although the WFN crew offered their predictions, we were forthright in saying it was based on very little information, and so it proved!
|Finished||Seeded||WFN Tip||WFN Rank||Team||Comment|
|1||4||3||-||Ireland||Repeated the heroics of the men winning the inaugural Cup in 2002. Gaelic football and local Australian experience proved decisive and although sometimes challenged were clearly the best side, undefeated.|
|2||3||4||-||Canada||Played good football and pushed the eventual winner all the way. Showed the benefit of matches against their North American neighbours. If growth continues could easily push the Banshees next time if similar growth does not occur in Ireland.|
|3||5||5||-||USA||Similar story to Canada and looked like they could slip into the grand final when leading Ireland at 3/4 time in their final minor round match. Plenty of upside and should return aiming for number 1.|
|4||1||1||-||PNG||A very young side that ultimately performed much less well than we expected but the age profile suggests a lot of improvement could occur naturally.|
|5||2||2||-||Australia IM||Selected in good faith to represent a diverse background and not to dominate the competition, but raised eyebrows by not really being competitive. Hopefully a good learning experience for the players but a stronger side could and should be selected in future.|
World Footy News