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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Ponting's side in the race for Laureus World Sports Awards

Ponting's side in the race for Laureus World Sports Awards

February 15, 2008 22:43 IST

Cricket's world champions Australia will have to fend off a tough challenge from the Iraqi football team which won the AFC Asian Cup for the Team of the Year title in the coveted Laureus World Sports Awards.

Ricky Ponting's team had a successful past year having equalled a record feat of 16 consecutive Test victories but pitted against a group of footballers who have overcome war and security threats, the judges would face a tough choice when the winners are announced at a gala ceremony in St Petersburg on Monday.

Steve Waugh, who was captain of Australia when it won the prestigious award in 2002, sits on the 43-member Laureus Academy, a panel of sporting legends who choose the winners.

"The Australian cricket team had an outstanding year, they've got to be a pretty good chance of taking that one out -- unbeaten in the World Cup and a magnificent run in the Test series, beating England 5-0 and Sri Lanka 2-0," Waugh was quoted as saying by The Australian.

"The Iraq football team would also have some aspirations to win that for what they achieved in difficult circumstances to win the Asian Cup," he said.

Waugh considers consistency and past performance when picking winners of the Laureus awards, given by an organisation whose charter is celebrating the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good.

"Maybe some people will look at the award and say: 'The cricket team has already won it, maybe it's time for another team to win it'.

"It's hard to know what goes through people's minds when they pick the awards ... It's (Australian team's record) pretty comprehensive and backs up against any other sports team in the world," he said.

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