I may be making a wild statement here, but hear me out. I really in my heart believe that this time next year Argentina will still be basking in the glory of a third world cup triumph!
Sometimes I make myself laugh, but I think they will do better than anyone expects them to. Their dramatic qualification could be just the thing that spurs them on to big things next summer. I can imagine the odds on their chances will be long, so why not take a flutter?
We are all nearly done and dusted now, the majority of teams have been confirmed and we just have a few small mattters to take care of, then in a month we can really start counting down the days.
It shows something of the shifting power of African football in the past several years that Ghana and Ivory Coast will compete in their second consecutive finals now after qualification was assured some time ago. The big teams of the 90’s were Nigeria, Cameroon, hosts South Africa and to a lesser extent Morocco. Two teams that impressed in 2006 look to having home(ish) advantage in their quest to the gold. If any two african teams have a chance, its these.
Group A has world cup regulars Cameroon looking to get back to basics after missing out the last time. However they have a tough trip to Morocco as a final hurdle. They can however take some solace that they have breathing space of a point at the top and Gabon have an even tougher trip to Adebayor led Togo. Another newbie African nation in the finals or a return of the old guard?
Group B has only been between two teams, Nigeria and Tunisia, and with only 1 game left each against opposition that hasn’t been in it really, Tunisia have to be favourites to progress with a two point cushion.
Egypt host Algeria in a fight to the death for top spot in group C. 5 time African nations champs Egypt have to win by 3 goals to progress though. If this goes 2-0 at any time to the hosts, make sure you get watching this.
ASIA-OCEANIA PLAY OFF
New Zealand have home advantage in the crucial clash against Bahrain in the final playoff leg. The first leg ended 0-0 and it is all to play for.
Austraila, Japan, Korea Republic and Sven-linked (he says hes not interested but we’ll see) North Korea have all long qualified from the Asia section.
NORTH, CENTRAL AND CARIBBEAN
USA and Mexico book their flights for yet another successive finals appearance last month, but the big shock was Honduras qualifying at the expense of Costa Rica, who have been regarded as the third dominant side in this division over the millennium so far. They will now play…
Uruguay, who despite their defeat to Diego’s boys last night had Chile to thank for keeping them in the hunt. It could have been Argentina, who’s journey has been quite the lively one it has to be said. Brazil dominated the group standings, while Chile can now boast of gaining second position after their great form recently. Paraguay had looked real impressive, nearly on a par with Brazil, so what does that say of the qualities of Chile, and indeed, Argentina?
As we all know now, european qualifying is all finished and we have our automatic qualifiers and our play-off participants.
The play-offs have not been without scandal, as my boys Eire may stand to lose out due to Fifa’s new ridiculous seeding system. It’s plainly obvious that FIFA doesn’t want to lose the revenue that the big boys bring in, so my boys Eire could be royally screwed. Of course I’m biased, and thats what makes football great.
The automatic places go to a returning to the cup Denmark, Switzerland, debutants Slovakia (much to the chagrin of regular competition entrants Czech Rep), mighty Germany, surely favourites Spain, Fabio led England, steely Serbia, classy Netherlands and the current holders Italy.