Contributed by: Brett Northey Sunday, May 04 2008 @ 11:47 am ACST
Looking back at some of our footage from the 2005 Australian Football International Cup semi-finals, it's a reminder that it may still be tight at the top of international footy come the third Cup in August this year. We'll be looking to stir up the debate later in the year, but already there's plenty of opinion that Papua New Guinea should be the stand-out. With so many players now at a high standard in the AFL Queensland leagues, it seems quite possible that PNG will be far too good for everyone else.
On the flipside though, watching back some of the Mosquitoes' dogged battle with Ireland[*1] in the 2005 semi-final, there must be some hope for other nations. Like many countries, Ireland didn't have their best possible team at the Cup, yet in their match against PNG, with a bit of luck, they could have gotten over the line, losing by just 9 points (and having one more scoring shot). Similarly the US Revolution's match against PNG[*2] went to the wire, the Stars and Stripes falling just one point short, and ultimately losing to the tournament winner[*3] , New Zealand, in their own semi-final.
Of course New Zealand were the stand-out side in 2005, undefeated at the Cup and generally winning easily. So perhaps they will deserve to start favourites again. With none of the top 4 having played each other since 2005 one thing is for sure - no country can truly be confident until they've put the score on the board this August and September.