World Cup 2010 - the final qualifiers

Ahead of tonight’s crucial African World Cup play off qualifier comes a startling revelation: apparently Egypt and Algeria don’t get on. So that explains last week’s reports of violence and the Egyptian bench’s response to the crucial second goal on Saturday (see it on the YouTube channel opposite).

I know how they feel. My blood boils whenever I read ill-informed rubbish. I’m not talking about the rivalry between the teams, of which I know virtually nothing apart from what can be gleaned from the information superhighway. What caught my eye was the lazy journo’s lack of attention to detail. Apparently Egypt need to win by three goals to qualify, when in fact they needed three in the last game to avoid this play off. First rule of proper journalism - check your facts!

The Independent here in the UK takes this message to heed with a well informed examination of why the North African rivals are at each other’s throats. (Memo to headline writers: for the millionth time, Shankly had his tongue firmly in his cheek when uttering that now famous line)

Away from the heat of Sudan, other World Cup qualifiers are taking place under less stressful circumstances. What’s that? The coach of Bosnia has a master plan involving hungry wolves. OK. And the Ireland - France clash will go ahead with the Irish remaining confident they can cause an upset. So the situation isn’t as stress-free as I’d first thought.

Even the Uruguayans aren’t taking any chances after a 1 – 0 away victory against Costa Rica. Here’s defender Diego Godin showering a FIFA interviewer with clichés (feet on the ground, put the first leg win behind us etc).

It seems the only pairing which is approaching the final games tonight with any dignity is Ukraine – Greece. 0 – 0 in the first leg, and there’s barely a murmur of antagonism as we reach the second. They clearly can’t be arsed.

All of this huffing and puffing means we will know the names of the 32 teams heading to South Africa by tonight. Come back tomorrow for an in depth look at the draw.

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