Early Doors

Tahiti participation at Confederations Cup a farce

Early Doors

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It struck Early Doors last night that it should place a bet on Tahiti overcoming Spain at the Confederations Cup. The plankton from Oceania were priced at 250/1 so it had to be worth a quid. Or even 80/1 for a draw, right? Attractive odds for a two-horse race until ED thought about its recent trip to Sandown Park for the end of the jump season.

Just seconds after handing over a nugget on a horse priced at 500/1 in an eight-horse sprint, a bookie told ED: "There is more chance of Shergar winning this race, mate."

And he was right as the nag limped home sixth out of seven horses, well off the pace. 250/1 was false odds for Tahiti in Rio last night. They were much longer than that.

Shergar scoring a goal for the side from the South Pacific was more likely than usurping the reigning world and European champions on a 23-match unbeaten run. Most of the betting enveloping this match centred around whether or not Vicente del Bosque's "shadow side" could reach double figures. Would they, or could they?

Of course they would. Spain have been fulfilling their promise since winning the European Championship in 2008. The World Cup in 2010 followed before they successfully defended their European moniker last year. Sticking 10 past Tahiti was never going to be beyond them.

It is just a slight surprise they never basked in more with Fernando Torres snaring four, David Villa a hat-trick amid two from David Silva and one from Juan Mata.

Spain shook hands with the Tahiti team after it all, but it was difficult to see what the point of all this was? Surely countries such as Tahiti should be vetted before they are allowed to visit such a tournament.

The locals in Rio de Janeiro backed Tahiti with 70,000 opting to support a side consisting of one professional player and blokes who would toil in the Ryman League. It was hardly value for money.

"We have won a major victory here by winning the hearts of the Brazilian public. I think it's fair to say we are better known in Brazil than we are in Tahiti," said the coach Eddy Etaeta.

ED is a bit baffled. Not only is a 10-0 win for Spain not good for the image of Spain, Tahiti or football, it does not help the competition in Group B.

138th in the world against number one was always going to be lopsided. ED can't go along with the false praise being heaped upon Tahiti. It is only patronising. There is nothing fun about watching any team lose a match by 10 goals.

UEFA should take note of such happenings and think seriously about cutting a flabby fixture list for its regional qualifiers. Faroe Islands, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Andorra should be forced to qualify for the first round proper of Euros or World Cup qualifying. The road to the qualifiers would cut back on so many pointless matches.

Spain can only beat what is put in from of them, but surely Tahiti should not have been the team in the firing line. Their world ranking should have been used to make sure they were not allowed to self harm. Only teams in the top 100, say, should be allowed access to this event.

Uruguay against Nigeria became almost a winner takes all scenario because Tahiti are tourists. Nigeria thumped Tahiti 6-1, but must surely beat Spain on Sunday otherwise they are out after losing 2-1 to Uruguay, who will wallow in goals against cannon fodder.

Tahiti's entrance requirements from Oceania must also be scrutinised. Wins over New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands should never be deemed good enough to qualify for this event. Goodness knows how New Zealand failed to make it.

Perhaps the only thing more farcical than the staging of this match was the manner in which it was commentated on by BBC Three.

The BBC made it clear they were anti-Spain from the start with match commentator Guy Mowbray trotting out a series of irrelevant lines.

"You didn't expect this scoreline at this stage..." he said after 33 minutes with the score at 1-0. No, but give it another 10 minutes and Spain will lead 4-0.

"All we'll remember from this game is Fernando Torres's missed penalty." No we won't. We won't remember anything from this game.

"He essentially climbs up coconut trees for a living." Mowbray explains the occupation of one of the Tahiti players.

And that is where he should have been last night, far from the Maracana while Mowbray soothed his frazzled brow with a cool Brahma.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The stand can hold a couple of hundred people and is fairly packed. Other spectators are scattered along the touchlines, sitting in the shade of mango trees, or watching from the back of pick-up trucks parked behind the goals. No flags or flares, but plenty of flip-flops and flora, as Tahitian ladies love to wear a crown of flowers on Sundays. If the atmosphere was any more relaxed, we'd all be sound asleep." Olivier Roth gives an insight into football in Tahiti in an eye-opening blog.

FOREIGN VIEW: Ernesto Valverde is the man with big shoes to fill in Bilbao after Athletic Club announced he would be replacing football hipsters' fave Marcelo Bielsa at the helm of the Liga club.

COMING UP: Not much in the way of football today, although the cream of young talent will be on display at the U20 World Cup in Turkey. Eurobot will be here as usual and we'll have the latest in our Ballon d'Eurosport rundown though.

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