… and the rest of the world.

July 20, 2009 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

Asia has already seen its 4 spots decided with only its playoff spot left.  Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will meet and I expect Saudi Arabia will move on to face New Zealand.  Australia, Japan and South Korea met expectations by making it in while North Korea has provided the surprise this time around and will play in the World Cup for the first time since 1966.  The biggest qustion though will be whether any of these teams will make it out of the first round.  Certainly they can and it depends on the draw, but outside of 2002 Asia has not seen much success in World Cups.  Curiously, North Korea has a quarter-final performance on their resume but I doubt anyone will predict a repeat.

Africa now have their chance at pushing their teams to the next level with a home World Cup.  Since Cameroon 1990 we have been expecting a major breakthrough but the breakthroughs have limited themselves to the Olympic level.  Before any team gets their chance though they have to get through a draw that can be as dangerous as Europe.  This time around Morocco, Cameroon and Togo, all recent qualifiers, share a group.  Tunisia and Nigeria also share a group, while Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have relatively easy groups ahead of a repeat appearance.  Algeria and Egypt highlight a group made of teams that have not qualified recently.

No matter who qualifies though will they really have home advantage?  The most succesful Asian teams in 2002 were the two hosts.  South Africa should expect to get to the second round here, but will North African or West African teams really feel like a home team in 2010?  We’ll see.  I certainly don’t have much insight into the whole continent’s excitement over the World Cup but I think there will be a boost to those African teams that have been here before.  I doubt it will be enough to push them past teams with worldwide appeal like Brazil, Italy, Argentina or Germany, all things being equal.

I’m eager to see whether Africa will see its strongest teams qualify.  Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon are easy ways of finding the group of death, will we see that many potential groups of death?

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Entry filed under: Country, Other national teams.

Europe, drawing dead. Learning what Brazil is all about

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