This is another column I may have to make into an annual tradition. Just like Norway being in the playoffs for 2010 and 2011, I'm sadly going to have to say goodbye to the teams in Group B, just like I did last year to Jamaica, El Salvador, Afghanistan and Scotland. With no further ado:
Dear Serbia, Portugal, Sierra Leone, and England,
Thanks for showing up and better luck next year! Don't hang your heads, Norway and Ireland were the better teams and deserved to advance. My advice:
Serbia - Keep playing hard and focus on your younger players. The team needs more speed and more attacking creativity if you want to win some games. There's no doubt this was a rebuilding year, so put in a team next year and hope for a better result.
Portugal - A tough tournament because of the turnover in players from 2010, but nothing to be ashamed about. Felipe moved on, but he was undeniably the heart of your team and you need to find someone else to carry that torch now. I suggest having an unquestioned captain for 2012, someone younger who is willing to lead by example. You've got good young players, make it their team.
Sierra Leone - A strong tournament considering it was the first time showing. Norway had its best result against you, but ultimately its most frustrating as well. We were constantly antagonized and I actually count that as a positive in your favour. Nobody likes teams that get under their skin, but I think its an identity that can work for you. Keep shooting and next year you can be a defininte challenger.
England - I'm not sure what happened to you. After Norway played you the first game I thought you had a real chance to prove you were better than last year. I suppose that chance still exists, seeing as how you've got Serbia and Portugal left, but the 14-0 loss to Ireland is like a black clowd looming over everything. I'm not saying you pussed out - cause Ireland is very good - but I don't remember any cards being handed out that game. If they're going to keep running up the score, at least let them know you're angry about it.