Tuesday, May 4, 2010

South Africa Looks Better to Gamblers

South Africa is ranked No. 90 in the world. It has not been playing well in international matches since the Confederations Cup almost a year ago.

But someone thinks South Africa has at least a decent shot of having some success in its own World Cup.


Perhaps trying to buck up the home fans, who have had their hopes battered down by a string of poor results by the national side, the Johannesburg Times is all over this story:

Gamblers rank South Africa 18th to 21st to win the World Cup!

Hey, that's something. Someone believes! ... that the Bafana Bafana Bafana won't be the worst team at South Africa 2010.

The story quotes a "trader" at Ladbroke's, a famous London gambling site, as saying the BBB will be lifted by hometown enthusiasm when the tournament begins on June 11, with South Africa playing Mexico.

"Even though they are in a tough, competitive group, if they qualify [for the last 16] they will be tough for any team to come up against," the bookie told the newspaper. "Being host nation will play a key role and the backing of the fanatical supporters will be tough for any nation to come up against."

According to the Times, Ladbrokes and other books suggest South Africa's chances of winning the tournament (hah!) are as good or better than those of Nigeria, Australia, Denmark and Switzerland. (Not that any of those countries has any chance at all of winning.)

Ladbrokes' line suggests South Africa is the least likely of the four teams in Group A (France, Mexico and Uruguay are the others) to get out of the group stage. Perhaps reflecting the money already put down by sober gamblers.

Realistically, it comes down to the first match. If South Africa picks up a point against Mexico, I think the country goes nuts and somehow the Bafana Bafana Bafana (slogan: if saying it twice is good, saying it three times is better) picks up enough points to slip into the knockout phase. If Mexico wins and South Africa deflates like a punctured balloon ... the BBB might not earn a point.

Bookies may be weighing that option themselves. "Not very good but ..."

And Ladbrokes has Spain as the favorite to win the whole thing. Not Brazil.

Might take a couple bucks of that action. If gambling were legal.
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