It seems the closer we get to the Brazil friendly, the more likely we are to see a second string team, most of which have as much chance of playing regular football next summer as I have of pulling Megan Fox. Not that this bothers some people. While the cry of “meaningless jolly” grows louder, this article says the injury list makes the match even more relevant to Fabio Capello.
The build up to the France – Ireland play off continues with Patrice Evra claiming failure to reach the World Cup finals would be a “scandal” for the French and an opportunity for the rest of us to roll about on the floor laughing. OK, he didn’t actually say that last bit, but he’s definitely thinking it.
It’s The Mambas versus The Carthage Eagles. Is it just me or does anyone else think African national teams have excellent nicknames?
And not content with sparring on the Internet, it seems the rivalry between Algerian and Egyptian fans is now becoming serious. Yesterday a bus carrying Algerian players to their hotel in Cairo was attacked by Egyptian fans. FIFA will be keeping a close eye on this one tomorrow.
Predictions for the play offs and the remaining World Cup qualifiers
Team to qualify in bold
European play offs
Republic of Ireland – France: Ireland to win on away goals (0-0, 1-1)
The French had the nerve to start advertising their shirt for next summer. That level of arrogance is asking for trouble.
Portugal – Bosnia: Bosnia (1-1, 2-0)
No Ronaldo and up against a hungry young nation. This could be the end for Portugal.
Greece – Ukraine: Ukraine (1-1, 1-0)
The Greeks just about held their own in a lacklustre group, while Ukraine pushed Croatia into third place. This should go well for the Ukrainians but blind donkey Andrei Voronin may still scupper their plans.
Russia – Slovenia: Russia (2-0, 0-0)
Russia were unlucky to face Germany in the group stages. Given a more favourable draw they would probably have qualified automatically. They should be too strong for Slovenia.
Asia/Oceania Inter-Continental Play-Off for the Right to Be Officially Known as World Cup 2010 Whipping Boys
Bahrain – New Zealand: New Zealand (0-0, 2-1)
The All Whites came back from the first leg in good shape. They should finish the job off.
South American – North, Central America and Caribbean play off
Costa Rica – Uruguay: Uruguay to win on away goals (2-2, 0-0)
Costa Rica looked to be coasting until the summer. Then their qualification campaign went horribly wrong. Uruguay score lots of goals and drew six of their qualifiers. This one is ready – made for the away goals rule.
Remaining group games
Togo - Gabon
Morocco - Cameroon
Mozambique - Tunisia
Kenya - Nigeria
Egypt - Algeria
Gabon, Nigeria and Algeria to qualify
Are you prepared to stick your neck out and offer your predictions?