Contributed by: Brett Northey Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 07:20 am ACST
As we move to just over four months until Australian Football's de facto World Cup, the picture of exactly which nations will attend is becoming less clear. In our last update we suggested that the likely number had dropped to as low as 14, not including teams based on ethnic groups within Victoria.
Since then India firmed, finally getting some representatives to visit the AFL in Melbourne, we heard of a slight chance by the French (but subsequently discounted by another official there), and the AFL have decided to not rule out the Catalan region sending a representative side. Whether the latter will eventuate is yet to be seen as it's very early days in discussions.
We recently saw a report mentioning Fiji as a candidate, but that is understood to be a mistake. Also coming back into the picture is Tonga, as discussed in New AYAD arrives but Tonga looking for sponsor to fulfill IC dream. The AFL are also believed to be working to secure Spain and Nauru. Below we do our best to summarise what is a very fluid situation - at the end of the day, nothing is finalised.
The amateur status of the game internationally obviously leads to the uncertainty so close to the event. Leagues are asking themselves if they have the playing numbers, the money, the time, and whether it is the best use of resources. Many nations hang in there with hope, rather than make an early definitive call. Germany is the classic example of a nation that could reasonably have aimed to be there but made the early decision to continue to focus domestically.
So at this stage no one really knows how many teams will attend the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. The range would appear to be from 13 to 19 countries (regions), with around 14 to 16 still more likely, unless the AFL pulls out extra measures to ensure 18 or 19 make it. We'll keep you posted as we find out which way countries decide.
2008 Australian Football International Cup - official entries and highly likely unless otherwise stated:
1. New Zealand
2. Papua New Guinea
3. United States
8. South Africa
11. Sweden (debut)
12. China (debut)
13. Israel/Palestine (debut)
14. Finland (debut) - still a question mark in our minds but we hope to be wrong
15. India (debut) - still a question mark in our minds but we hope to be wrong
2008 Australian Football International Cup - possible but major question mark: