Let’s hear it for the World Cup’s 33rd team

November 23, 2009

While a lucky pool of soccer millionaires can now get down to some serious daydreaming about World Cup glory in South Africa next year, there’s another group of equally well renowned and respected players who will be spending the summer sprucing up the gardens (or getting their agents to buy them fridges).

Here at the Reuters Soccer Blog we’re a little bit saddened by this fact and, doing some daydreaming of our own, we’ve come up with a plan for a 33rd team at the World Cup, made up of players whose countries have failed to qualify.

I’m nominating Sven-Goran Eriksson for the job of coaching them, provided he will agree to swap his plush office at League Two Notts County for a month whipping our World Cup ‘unfortunates’ into shape.

Here’s my stab at a starting XI for the opening game, with a few standbys for the bench.

Sven’s unfortunates (4-3-3): 1-Petr Cech; 2-Yiri Zhirkov, 3-Thomas Vermaelen, 4-Josip Simunic, 5-Christian Chivu; 6-Andrei Arshavin, 7-Luka Modric, 8-Mohamad Zidan; 9-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 10-Eduardo da Silva, 11-Emanuel Adebayor.

Subs: Shay Given, Razvan Rat, Robbie Keane, Martin Petrov, Dimitar Berbatov, Edin Dzeko, Adrian Mutu.

Razvan Rat makes the cut purely because of the headline grabbing potential of his name, while Shay Given and Robbie Keane deserve something to go right for them.

Bulgaria’s new record goal-scorer Dimitar Berbatov also makes the squad as one of a ridiculous amount of strikers, another is Edin Dzeko who has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season and the last for VfL Wolfsburg.

Have we missed someone obvious? How far could this side go? And, removing tongue from cheek for a second, is this an idea FIFA should consider?

MAKE SURE THIS MAN ISN’T STUCK DOING THE GARDEN: Barcelona’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates his second goal against Zaragoza during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona October 25, 2009. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino


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Andriy Shevchenko has to make the bench surely?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

In all respect to Eriksson, I thought Giovanni Trapattoni has to be the most high-profile coach not in South Africa next summer?Not sure if you guys have seen this but it was on Gazzetta dello Sport’s English website over the weekend – http://english.gazzetta.it/Football/20-1 1-2009/many-stars-without-world-cup-here -s-national-side-of-eliminated-players-6 02042364622.shtml It is their list of players not able to feature in the tournament.

Posted by diana | Report as abusive

Your selection is a bit Premier League-centric. What about Paolo Guerrero of Peru? Or Seydou Keita and Mahamadou Diarra of Mali?

Posted by Kay Tel | Report as abusive

Hi Diana. That’s a very interesting list on Gazzetta. I see Riise, Benayoun, Hyppia are on it. Wonder if you could do a list made up entirely of past and present Liverpol players. Riise, Benayoun, Hyppia, Sissoko, Voronin, Bellamy, Keane, El Hadji Diouf, Nemeth …

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

[…] Source Tags: adebayor, adrian mutu, Christian Chivu, da silva, dimitar berbatov, division soccer, edin dzeko, goal scorer, gustau, josip simunic, lucky pool, luka modric, martin petrov, Petr Cech, plush office, reuters, Robbie Keane, spanish first division, world cup glory, zlatan ibrahimovic […]

Posted by Let’s hear it for the World Cup’s 33rd team – Posted In World Cup | Soccer News Info – Soccer News Info | Report as abusive

If I was to choose the team it would be more or less the same, definitely put given in goal ahead of cech and possibly swap adebayor for eduardo. Also I would have guus hiddink as manager.Wouldn’t be a bad idea though in fairytale land, would be good to see a team full of big names together at the world cup, arshavin, ibrahimovic and adebayor sounds quite dangerous up front but could you see them all getting along??

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

Hiddink is a very good shout, maid. Dread to think what the squad morale would be like three weeks in…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Thanks for all of your comments so far, some good suggestions for playing staff and interestingly not many Sven fans out there! Kay Tel, agree those two could have made the team — what a squad it would be.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

No room for Paolo Guerrero though!

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

If not Paolo Guerrero, how about Claudio Pizarro?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

If S-G E’s too busy for the job, maybe his lookalike/ soundalike celebrity double (who was a little more popular in Mexico for a short while) would fit the bill in this little fantasy FIFA extravaganza?

Posted by Svenalike | Report as abusive

[…] on Gazzetta. I see Riise, Benayoun, Hyppia are on it. … Read more from the original source: Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Let's hear it for the World … Share and […]

Posted by Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Let's hear it for the World … | Breaking News 24/7 | Report as abusive

you`re wrong maidwe have to pick up the regend mansdel piero .. or raulbecause maybe they can`t play in wc field ,too

Posted by W | Report as abusive

del piero could well be going to the world cup thats upto lippi and i believe raul has retired from international footballso…

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

Opening this up to players out of favour with coaches, those who don’t quite make the cut or retirees would be a very interesting idea… Del Piero, Raul, Carragher, Cassano … sure there a lot more.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

And that’s pretty funny, Svenalike. What did go on in Mexico?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Anyone for Ryan Giggs? Surely he deserves a World Cup appearance, even a make-believe one…

Posted by Sean | Report as abusive

I’m with you on Giggs… I’ll also take Totti, unless he makes a comeback with Italy anyway.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

surely tottis comeback hat-trick made lippi sit up and take notice?

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

Lippi has been careful to praise Totti since the weekend but not hint he will go to the World Cup. The big thing with Totti is fitness, he has barely played three games straight for the past four years. Would it be fair to bring him back for the world Cup having not contributed in qualifying and previously saying his retirement decision was final?I feel a blog coming on, maybe next week if he scores again and doesn’t get injured. Then Lippi will start pondering…

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

thats a fair point about tottis fitness and him struggling to make a string of games, but i think if lippi made him feel wanted he would re-consider his ‘final’ decision on retirement, and surely italians would prefer to see him possibly come off the bench for the last 30 minutes in a crucial world cup game than a fair more inexperienced striker such as guessepi rossi? not saying he shouldnt be going aswell just an example

Posted by maid | Report as abusive

egypt and zidan .. are the best

Posted by mohamed salem | Report as abusive

Assuming your 33rd team represnting United Nations would have a 23-man squad like the teams which qualified, this would be it in my humble opinion:Petr Czech; Vedran Corluka, Thomas Vermaelen, JohnO’Shea, Christian Chivu; Antonio Valencia, Anatoly Tymoshchuk, Luka Modric, Andrei Arshavin; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Emmanuel Adebayor.Second XI: Shay Given; Yuri Zhirkov, Dmytro Chyhrinskiy, Daniel Van Buyten, Danijel Pranjic; Dennis Rommedahl, Hamit Altintop, Mohammed Zidane, Martin Petrov; Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov.Third goalkeeper: Igor Akinfeev

Posted by Zoran | Report as abusive