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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 17:53 UK

Chick Young's World Cup view

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

So they've done it. They have gone and done it.

Fifa is an organisation admittedly rich in brass around the neck area but to go and start the World Cup without the presence of us. Of Scotland, a nation versed deep in the art of partying, takes some nerve.

For do not think, my friends, that World Cups are organised for the benefit of football and footballers. Take away the fans and you have nothing.

Mo Johnston in action against Sweden at the 1990 World Cup
Scotland used to be regulars at the World Cup party

It has been too long. An Ice Age of absence it seems to me, since that glorious summer of 1998 in Provence and Paris. Longer still since the days I clearly recall when we qualified for these events as naturally as night followed day.

We made five finals on the bounce over nearly two decades from 1974 and six out of seven between '74 and '98. We missed USA 94 just to give the world a wee taste of what it would be like without us.

But it seems it is a flavour they have come to savour, as Japan and South Korea breathed on without us in 2002 and the Germans in 2006 had festivals of beer-drinking without so much a toast in our direction. I know because I was there.

And I will be again this time - a lonely soul in South Africa, waving the flag of Scottish pride while all around me speak Afrikaans and Spanish and Slovakian and Portuguese. And Mancunian and Cockney and Yorkshire…

May the Good Lord keep me strong.

It's one man from BBC Scotland against the world. I will try my best to get us at least a score draw.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

It is the greatest show on earth. Of course it is. By comparison the Olympics are the school sports.

I've been covering World Cups since 1982 in Spain and never fail to marvel at the sheer passion of it all, of the wonderful coming together of nations, of the international love of the only game. Even without the Tartan Army.

I'll be based in Cape Town, ready as a voice of reason in the eye of the storm of bias from my colleagues in the south who may, in the heat of battle, forget that the B in BBC stands for British.

Of course, I do so full in the acknowledgement that, had it been us and not them, I would have been similarly challenged in taking the middle ground.

This could be a great World Cup. Fifa is not blessed with a history of doing the right thing, but the time to take the tournament to Africa - albeit it should have gone there four years ago but for a bit of jiggery-pokery in a Scots-born New Zealand delegate's deciding vote - is now.

Lighter footballs will zing through the air at altitude or at sea level and goalkeepers will scream the injustice of it all.

The South Africans will dance with their impossibly rhythmic style and blow their infuriating vuvuzelas, which haunt you like a thousand car alarms going off in the middle of the night.

Argentina manager Diego Maradona with superstar Lionel Messi
Can Maradona get the best out of Messi and co?

Great players will do great things and Messi, Rooney, Milito, Ronaldo, Kaka and the rest will trigger a million imitators from the beaches of the Copacabana to the playgrounds of Paisley.

First the good news: there is, you know, a way whereby which England could stop banging on about 1966. Now the bad news: it's because there is a real possibility they could have 2010 to harp on about until the end of time.

I don't think they will win it, but they could. A wise owl for a manager and six or seven players of real class - it is a recipe all right.

I do feel it will be a triumph for a European nation. Spain are worthy favourites but I am curious at the lack of backing for the Netherlands with or without Arjen Robben.

And Argentina? Oh how the world laughed as they nearly failed to qualify.

But how can you write off a team with Messi, Higuain, Milito, Aguero and Tevez to choose from up front, even if the manager, the esteemed Diego Maradona, is nutty as a fruitcake?

I'll be presenting World Cup Sportsound on BBC Radio Scotland on 92-95FM, 810 MW online and on digital from Cape Town on Saturdays 19 & 26 June from 1500 BST.

Join me. I'll be a lonely figure without you.



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see also
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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