Final World Cup Spots To Be Decided Today
Finally, the final six spots at the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be decided this Wednesday, with playoff matches occurring around the world.
In Africa there will be a one-off playoff, while in Europe the four ties head for the return-leg along with the CONCACAF/CONMEBOL tie. Here’s the preview.
Algeria v Egypt, Omdurman, 6.30pm (CET)
The anticipation and tension is rife ahead of the decisive CAF playoff between North African rivals Egypt and Algeria after finishing level in all respects in their qualifying group.
And with the playoff to be played in the neutral territory of Sudan, security has had to be tightened with an influx of Egyptian and Algerian fans. It’s a worry considering these nations’ history.
African journalist Ifticen Ahmed warned, “The game has become so enormous… Honestly, it will degenerate if they (the supporters of both teams) meet in the stadium or on the street.”
Indeed, despite the build-up, we should focus on the game itself and Egypt, having defeated Algeria 2-0 in Cairo on the weekend, could be the favourites but the Algerians have had a good campaign up until then. It makes for an enthralling finale.
Prediction; Egypt to qualify
Ukraine (0) v Greece (0), Donetsk, 7pm (CET)
After a nil-all draw in Athens, this tie remains evenly balanced although with the benefit of home ground advantage, and on the back of a decent showing on the road, Ukraine should be favourites.
Greece boss Otto Rehhagel admitted after the first-leg, “The result leaves everything open. Ukraine were impressive in their passing game and their attacking players were very good.”
Ukraine manager Alexei Mikhailichenko said, “Both teams have an equal chance of going through although we do have a slight advantage because of the fact that we will be playing at home in the deciding game.”
Prediction; Ukraine to qualify
Slovenia (1) v Russia (2), Maribor, 8.45pm (CET)
Saturday’s 2-1 victory for Russia in Moscow was greeted with headlines in the local press claiming “It was not enough!” Indeed, Slovenia’s late away goal could prove crucial but Russia boss Guus Hiddink isn’t getting caught up in the negativity.
Hiddink said, “We did not lose the first match, we won it! And there’s no room for panic.
“I know that a very tough battle is waiting for us in Slovenia but we gave another proof that we can upset any opposing team regardless of how many goals they allowed in their qualifying group or how dangerous in general they are.”
Slovenia skipper Robert Koren said, “Playing on grass and in front of our passionate fans will give us a distinct advantage. I think it will be a totally different match from the one we played in Moscow.”
Prediction; Russia to qualify
Bosnia-Herzegovina (0) v Portugal (1), Zenica, 8.45pm (CET)
Portugal failed to impress in Lisbon on the weekend, while Bosnia missed their chances to claim the advantage in the tie after hitting the woodwork on 3 occasions. Both sides know this tie is tight and there’s plenty of work to be done.
Portuguese boss Carlos Queiroz, who will again be without injured Cristiano Ronaldo, ambitiously stated, “It’s going to be close. We’ll suffer till the final whistle. We’ll have to be utterly determined and inspired. We can’t just sit back and wait, we have to take control. We’re going to Bosnia to win.”
Bosnia boss Miroslav Blazevic, who has skipper Emir Spahic unavailable, acknowledged after the first-leg, “I think we could have, and should have, come away with more than we did.”
Blazevic may rue those misses, but he’ll be reassured by the knowledge Bosnia did score plenty of goals in the earlier qualifiers. And he’s promised ‘a new plan to surprise the Portuguese team’.
Prediction; Bosnia to qualify
France (1) v Republic of Ireland (0), Paris, 9pm (CET)
The first-leg between these two in Dublin proved a fiery encounter with plenty of bad blood spilling over. And the second-leg promises more with Ireland facing an uphill battle against Les Bleus.
Ireland’s Italian boss Giovanni Trapattoni said, “It’s not finished yet. We’re capable of scoring in France as well. I’ve spent my life in football and I’ve seen a lot of situations get turned around.”
Meanwhile, under-pressure French boss Raymond Domenech said, “I feel we are only halfway through. But I feel determined. There are 180 minutes and 90 minutes to go. The Irish played very well (in the first-leg) and we must be vigilant. Of course, I would prefer to be more than 1-0 up.”
Domenech has had to fend off claims of a dispute between him and captain Thierry Henry, along with plenty of pressure from the public. A desperate Ireland side, too, will put the pressure on, with the first goal crucial in this match.
Prediction; France to qualify
Uruguay (1) v Costa Rica (0), Montevideo, midnight (CET)
Uruguay head into their return-leg against Costa Rica with the advantage, favouritism and the weight of home crowd expectation after their narrow win in San Jose on Saturday. The Ticos, who had squad member Froylan Ledezma controversially quit the talk midweek, face a massive task at the famous Centenario.
The South Americans, who failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in the playoffs, are determined to finish the job with Diego Lugano (the goalscorer in Costa Rica) stating, “It’s been more than two years of a very hard elimination series, there are two days and 90 minutes to go.
“We can’t let this opportunity escape us. On Wednesday we have to give the (Uruguayan) people happiness.”
Costa Rica’s stand-in trainer Marcelo Tulbovitch (with normal coach Rene Simoes suspended) said, “It’s not written that we can’t win (in Montevideo), we’ve already started to lift the lads’ morale, we’ll recover and get (to the match) in good shape. It’s the world final.”
Prediction; Uruguay to qualify
Related news & articles
Saturday November 14
The time has come for the decisive ties for spots at 2010’s World Cup with a number of important clashes this Saturday night. More
Tuesday October 13
With the final matches for World Cup qualifying due to be completed this Wednesday, it’s time to analyze who can and who will make it to South Africa in 2010. More
Tuesday October 20
The draw for UEFA’s World Cup playoffs took place on Monday night with several interesting ties served up. More
Friday June 11
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is set to kick off on June 11, so here’s the form guide for every competing nation from all the warm-up games to give you a guide of what to expect in South Africa. More