So the Word Cup qualifiers are underway, and
the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A few
eyebrows were raised when coach Raymond Domenech
retained his job after a dismal Euro 2008. He stood
on the precipice of dismissal after goals from Marc
Janko, Rene Aufhauser and a penalty from Andreas
Ivanschitz gave Austria a shock win in their
however saw off
days later in what we would normally have
anticipated as a top of the table clash. In the same
Romania 0-3 in
Bucharest and then beat
home to take an early and surprise lead in the
group. Certainly Group 7 has got off to an
interesting and unexpected start.
But before we proceed, all plaudits must go to a
team who won’t be in South Africa.
won 2-1 in
and in doing so, broke more records of continuous
failure than we have time to mention here. Suddenly
eye an opportunity to progress as the Swiss have
already dropped five unexpected points.
were outplayed by
somehow escaped with a 2-1 win. A 90th
minute goal by Antonio Di Natale earned them all
three points after they had spent much of the game
defending. No such problems for the Republic of
won against a
side forced to surrender home advantage. Both sides
remain unbeaten and in one of the more predictable
should win and
follow them in second.
cruised to a win in
and were then held by
Miroslav Klose bizarrely scored THREE equalizers
after the Finns had taken the lead three times.
the battle to finish behind
well underway, although
think they are capable of topping the group.
Luxembourg and perhaps
the shock result of the day was achieved by
who won 4-1 in
with Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick.
should now win this relatively weak group although
have a maximum six points at this stage. The two may
slug it out for the one automatic place.
In Group one,
failed to win in
also drew 0-0. All seemed to be fighting for second
shocked them with 2 goals in the last five minutes
Denmark’s 2-3 win
throws this group wide open but for now it’s
top it having drawn at home to
seem likely to shut out
carve up the top three places between them.
Portugal next but it
seems that every round will throw up a crunch game
in this, the most fascinating and open of the
have begun jockeying for position in Group 3 with
no-one really striking a fatal blow. The Czechs have
only played once, a draw in Belfast,
and remain favourites. Beyond that, it’s hard to
predict save that everyone will beat
Northern Ireland and
have 6 points out of six and their two most likely
Belgium drew on
Estonia 7-0 and may
be able to take some points off
Finally, we come to the only five team group, Group
9. The Netherlands won in
their only match so far.
who lost their opener in
recovered to win in
who in turn held
a draw in Oslo. It would seem that
battling for that second place and a play-off, but
with one second place side in a group not even
making the play-offs, neither side can afford to
drop too many more points.
FORMAT: The nine group winners automatically qualify
for the world cup finals. Of the nine second places,
the eight with the best records will play each other
in a play-off to fill four further places reserved
for European sides in South Africa.