England enjoyed the luck of the World Cup draw - now they must take advantage of their good fortune and win it, by Martin Lipton
Now we know what they will have to do. Now we see the path to glory. Now it starts.
But if Fabio Capello is to prove that England’s World Cup dreams are reality and not based on a another myth we have all bought into, the Italian must be the man we hope he is.
For Capello and his players the repercussions of the Group C draw with the United States, Algeria and Slovenia will dominate the next six months.
Yet while Brazil stand in England’s path before the final, Capello will surely feel this was better than it might have been.
This was not the horror draw by any means. In fact, it was a pretty good.
Yes, the opening tie with the USA in Rustenburg on June 12, where Capello plans to base his squad for the tournament, may rise memories of 1950 in Belo Horizonte, the most infamous day in the English footballing history.
But while the Americans were Confederations Cup finalists last year, and boast familiar Premier League faces like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, they are the sort of side potential world champions should beat, especially with David Beckham able to give inside information.
A flying start is vital to make things easier, before England travel to Cape Town to face Algeria’s Desert Foxes on June 18.
England have never played the North Africans, who made it through after that one-off play-off with Egypt in Khartoum and include the Portsmouth pair of Hassan Yebda and Nadir Belhadj.
But the third opponents, World Cup rookies Slovenia, who they will play in Nelson Mandela Bay - although it might be switched to Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria - looked distinctly ordinary when England eased past them at Wembley in September.
Capello had privately feared a tougher opening task, although he insisted: “If you are the manager of England, it must be your aim to win the World Cup. That is the only thing that matters.
“And if you want to win, at the end of the day you have to stay in and beat all the other big teams, whenever you have to play them.”
If it goes according to form, the likelihood is a second round meeting with the runners up in what looks like the “Group of Death“ containing Germany, Australia, Ghana and Serbia back in Rustenburg, before a last eight showdown with France in Soweto’s Soccer City.
Then, lying in wait, the team England have never beaten in four previous World Cup meetings, the tournament favourites, the boys from Brazil, again in Cape Town.
That pre-supposes Dunga’s side actually win a tough Group G, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast, the biggest African powerhouse, although it seems a fair bet the Brazilians will win their group and outlast Holland.
By contrast, finishing runners-up would mean a likely clash with Germany, followed by Argentina, with Spain the team expected to be the other semi-finalists.
The onus is clear. England must take advantage of their fortune. Capello said: “For me, who we got in the draw is not important, because that fact will not alter.
“We have to show we are good enough to beat all the best teams who are here.
“We have played many of the best teams in preparation. We know Spain will be good and Brazil will be good.
“The only type of team we have not played so far is an African side but that is something we want to do, probably in March.
Capello accepts that preparation is key. Nothing can be left to chance and the build-up will start tomorrow morning
The Italian added: “I think we will see all the best players in the world here next summer - and that makes it a fantastic challenge for us as a team.
“I believe the facilities will be perfect for a great tournament and the fact that the people here love football will make it even more special to be part of it.
“We will make sure we are right. My plan is that we will spend we will prepare in Austria, for up to 10 days ahead of our first game.
“I hope we will do well and I have confidence in my team. We know we can beat every team in the tournament, although if there are injuries it will make that much more difficult.
“But it is the same for everybody, not only for me. All the managers will have the same feeling. Every team has some players who are very important to how they can play and perform in the World Cup.
“I just hope that when we go to the tournament all the best England players will be fit for us.”
So do we all. The opportunity is there. The road to Soweto is full of obstacles. But it is a destination that can be reached.
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