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Empirical hypothetical

The 2018 Commonwealth Games recently concluded, and as I do each time this quadrennial event occurs, I briefly pondered what it would be like if football was part of the Games. Football has never been a part of this sporting occasion.

This year, I decided to work out who would be likely qualifiers for such Games. A bit of a reality suspension as one would have to imagine clubs allowing players to attend at what for many is a vital part of the season. But what if by some magic it did happen. What would it look like in terms of competitors?

To determine what it might look like, I consulted the FIFA rankings released in December 2017. Yes, I know FIFA rankings etc, but that would probably be the way that had the most influence.

Format

I looked at Hockey’s two groups of five countries, with the top two from each group playing in the semi-finals, as being a possible format.

Women’s draw

The top-10 Commonwealth countries were in the top-50 in the world in the FIFA women’s rankings published in December 2017.

Given, A1 to host country Australia, and B1 to top-ranked Commonwealth country England. Paying heed to rankings and geography, the groups could have looked like this (FIFA ranking in brackets):

Group A

Australia (4)
Canada (5)
Scotland (23)
Nigeria (37)
Cameroon (48)

Group B

England (3)
New Zealand (19)
Wales (35)
Ghana (46)
Trinidad & Tobago (48)

Cameroon, and Trinidad & Tobago had equal FIFA ranking position of 48.

Men’s draw

The top-10 Commonwealth countries were in the top-75 in the world in the FIFA men’s rankings published in December 2017.

Given, C1 to host country Australia, and D1 to top-ranked Commonwealth country England. Paying heed to rankings and geography, the groups could have looked like this (FIFA ranking in brackets):

Group C

Australia (38)
Wales (19)
Scotland (32)
Ghana (50)
Jamaica (54)

Group D

England (15)
Northern Ireland (24)
Cameroon (45)
Nigeria (51)
New Zealand (121)

Although Zambia would have had that 10th spot with a ranking of 74, I assumed it was geographically given to New Zealand to ensure an Oceania representative. Lucky Kiwis!

There are no Commonwealth countries that are full members of CONMEBOL (South America).

Imagined outcomes

In the women’s section, I imagine the Football Ferns getting at least a draw from Wales, and wins over Ghana, and Trinidad & Tobago, to set up a semi-final with the Sam Kerr-tildas. Hard-fought but narrow loss, led to a bronze medal match against Canada without John Herdman as manager, NZ grab a narrow 1-0 win for bronze.

In the men’s section, Fritz Schmid’s new All Whites squad is undone by the more together opponents and get a ninth/tenth place playoff vs Scotland, let’s say (to wind-up The JourneyFan; don’t worry, I have Scotland triumphing in the playoff!).

Categories: All Whites Football Ferns

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Phil Clayton

Phil Clayton's feet are registered with Brooklyn Northern United but—despite having moved back to Wellington from Christchurch in 2011—his heart is still bonded with Coastal Spirit FC.

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