Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The inaugural Nations Cup got underway in Dublin tonight.

The opening game in the round robin tournament saw the hosts Ireland triumph over Wales, thanks to a fine second half display.

I'd been looking forward to the tournament, hankering as I have been for many years for the return of the end of season Home Internationals. It's a stepping stone to getting these games back on the calendar and the signs have been promising so far.

Hopefully we don't find this tournament having a detrimental effect on the return of the Home Internationals though and being used a reason to say the fans don't care.

The fans are cleary not into the Nations Cup at the moment. Only 19,783 turned out to watch first game. Aviva Stadium was just over a third full and the atmosphere was flatter than some reserve games, which hopefully this tournament won't become. As Scotland prepare to take on Northern Ireland, I shudder to think what tomorrow's attendance is going to be.

Playing the Cup at this time of year doesn't help either the tournament or the enthusiasm for it. Having it as an end of season spectacle, in better weather and when more managers are likely to be more willing to release players, should be how they look to proceed in future years. If it indeed lasts that long.

Another aspect which doesn't help the credibility is the fact that teams can make SIX substitutions. It devalues the tournament and makes it no more than a glorified friendly and the fans of the three non hosting nations aren't exactly going to go to a lot of time, expense and effort to support that.

One of the biggest complaints fans have about friendly matches is the ridiculous substitutions aspect.

The Nations Cup had the potential to be a great thing. I'd been looking forward to it since it's announcement. It may get better, but for now it all just seems a bit flat and pointless and a good opportunity gone to waste.


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