A long and proud tradition of Australian excellence in international diplomacy

Tim Cahill in full-on grovel mode at Melbourne Airport. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

SCREAMING BLUE MURDER

The Fiver didn’t get where it is today peddling lazy national stereotypes, even if our didgeridoo-playing, Ramsay Street-dwelling, stubby-swilling, shrimp-throwing, strewth-saying Australian cousin G’day Mate Crocodile Dundee Fiver and assorted other foreign cousins might disagree. Truth is, G’Day Mate and his compatriots have more important things to worry about at the moment, what with a couple of their late night TV presenters having riled up the population of an entire country before the first leg of the World Cup showdown between the Sheilaroos and Honduras to be played in San Pedro Sula this weekend.

Interviewing the Sheilaroos striker Tim Cahill on their Channel 10 news and current affairs show, The Project, presenters Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar continued a long and proud tradition of Australian excellence in the field of international diplomacy by joking about the fact that Australia were travelling to a city that was once the murder capital of the world and asking if, in the event of victory, Cahill and his team-mates would have to play Isis next. These banter-tastic comments by two men apparently seized by the spirit of Boris Johnson and Donald J Trump have been predictably well received in Honduras, where the local media have accused the Aussies of racism and the country’s FA president has criticised them for “telling lies” about their hosts.

“As players, we respect the country and people, which is most important,” said Cahill, upon being forced in front of his own country’s media in full-on grovel mode. “What media say is different to what players think. I’m happy here in Honduras. It is a country I already respect a lot but we want to get a good result in the match.”

While the possibility of the Sheilaroos joining USA! USA!! USA!!! on the list of conspicuous absentees for Russia 2018 was already very real, the comments of their cultural attaches Aly, Helliar and Postecoglou have made it even more likely. Having incurred the ire of their hosts in the build-up to their game, the Aussies are unlikely to be afforded a particularly warm welcome to the Estadio Olímpico by any of the 40,000 Honduras supporters or 1,200 police officers and soldiers present. “It’s about football and enjoying that occasion and us taking in the surroundings,” declared Cahill, who will no doubt be calling on some of his experiences as a Millwall player to inform some of his less well-travelled young team-mates just how enjoyable an occasion this weekend’s game might be.

BITS AND BOBS

England 0-0 Germany will have a video referee in the posh seats – the system’s first UK airing. It’ll just “correct errors in match-changing situations”, whistled the International Football Association Board.

Meanwhile, both sides at Wembley will be wearing poppies on their armbands and etc and so on.

Optimism’s David Moyes says he’ll get Taxpayers FC “to the correct position” by playing with style. “I’ve only ever wanted to be involved in attacking, entertaining football,” he trilled. “I feel really confident.”

Dundee United have unveiled ex-Hearts coach Csaba Laszlo as their new manager. “His enthusiasm is very infectious,” honked chairman Stephen Thompson.

Wales will play in the 2018 China Cup alongside Uruguay, the Czech Republic and the hosts in the southern Chinese city of Nanning next March. “I think it’s very positive,” thought Chris Coleman. “We’d never have been asked three or four years ago.”

And Chelsea’s longest serving player, keeper Matej Delac, reckons it might be time to do one after no appearances in seven years, and 10 loan spells. “No regrets,” he parped. “Your career can always get better.”

A Bridge too far, Matej? Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

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