So France, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and Uruguay have all now qualified for next year’s World Cup Finals. Let the caterwauling begin...
“After a thrilling performance that promised for so long to deliver Irish soccer its most famous ever result, the chilly Parisian air was filled with rancour late last night after a disputed French goal cruelly ended Ireland’s hopes of playing in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.” Thus begins Ruadhan Mac Cormaic’s report for the Irish Times on a night when Thierry Henry’s self-confessed double handball was witnessed by millions watching on TV but inexplicably missed by the Swedish officials.
In fact Henry went one better than admitting he was at fault. According to one report the French striker gave the equivalent of the play to the whistle argument. He knew what had happened and didn’t care because the officials awarded his team the crucial goal.
Let’s leave the final word to manager Giovanni Trapattoni. The Italian had just watched his side take the game to the French and still lose. Understandably bitter, Trapattoni eventually accepted the result was fated to be. I’m not sure I would be quite so charitable, nor would I let the Irish forwards off the hook. In all the bluster this morning, hardly anyone mentions the second half chances missed by Keane and Duff. Had either put away their chances the Irish would now be heading for South Africa.
Elsewhere, the biggest shock was Slovenia putting Russia out. Portugal won away in Bosnia to wrap up a 2 – 0 aggregate win. And Greece held on for a 1 – 0 away victory in the Ukraine, the result taking them through by the same aggregate score line. Find out more here.
So now we know who the 32 teams are. Bring on the World Cup Bafana Bafana draw pots predictor!
Pot 1 (Hosts and seeds)
Pot 2 (Rest of UEFA)
Pot 3 (AFC + Concacaf)
Pot 4 (CAF + rest of Conmebol)
None of the European teams in Pot 2 are mugs. Pot 3 and 4 teams will be up for the challenge and ready to ambush anyone who doesn’t take them seriously, especially the African sides. This could be the most competitive World Cup finals ever.