Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Depending on the results of the second legs of the UEFA World Cup playoffs on Wednesday, next year’s tournament in South Africa could contain rather too many of football’s lesser lights for some fans out there.
Portugal, France and Russia, could all perish and the tournament, which is supposed to be the pinnacle of the game, could have a cast list including Honduras, New Zealand, North Korea, Slovakia, Bosnia and Slovenia.
Some fear the absence of world stars like Portugal’s Real Madrid playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo, Russia’s magician Andrei Arshavin and France’s mercurial Frank Ribery would de-value the tournament.
But would it be such a bad thing?
Some would suggest that Europe’s top nations should be guaranteed entry into the World Cup finals with a few token places for the also-rans.
Giovanni Trapattoni may have cause to regret his decision to leave Sunderland playmaker Andy Reid out in the cold when Ireland face France on Saturday and next Wednesday in their two-legged World Cup play-off.
Reid has been in sparkling form for his club this season in the Premier League, notching some fantastic goals, notably from free-kicks — an area Ireland need to improve on with the exception of Glenn Whelan’s thunderbolts from long range.