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


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.

The weird world of football — Eriksson to Notts County

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has described his next challenge as director of football at English League Two (fourth division) club Notts County as his toughest test yet.

Some would say that’s an understatement.

“It’s the biggest football challenge in my life,” the 61-year-old Swede told a news conference in the Midlands city of Nottingham on Wednesday.

from Left field:

Eriksson sacked as Mexico coach (Update)


Eight years ago, Mexico lost 3-1 away to Honduras in a World Cup qualifier, sunk by a Carlos Pavon hat-trick, and the defeat cost Enrique Meza his job.

Already under enormous pressure, Meza quit in the dressing room afterwards and has gone on to become a highly successful coach with Pachuca, a friendly club founded by Cornish miners whose modern-day facilities would put many of their European counterparts to shame.

Should Tardelli even whisper the Italian anthem?


Marco Tardelli is famous for that crazy goal celebration as Italy won the 1982 World Cup.

He loves his country so much that he is ready to whisper the Italian national anthem at Bari on Wednesday despite the fact he is now assistant coach to Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni. 

Tensions boil over in Mexico camp


Troubled Mexico face a potentially decisive five days in their attempt to qualify for the World Cup and the tension is already starting to tell.

After losing to the United States last month in the opening game of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament’s final stage, Mexico host Costa Rica on Saturday and visit Honduras — where they were beaten in a previous stage of the competition — on Wednesday.

Can it get any worse for Eriksson in Mexico?


Whichever way he turns, Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose team face his native Sweden in a friendly on Wednesday, runs into trouble.

If he looks to Europe for players, Eriksson will find most Mexicans either injured or warming the bench at their respective clubs. Previously seen as a chance to bring a more competitive and professional attitude to the national side, the export of Mexican players has become another headache for the national coach.

Why are Italian coaches so good?


Marcello LippiItaly’s Marcello Lippi has equalled the record for the most Azzurri games without defeat and Fabio Capello’s England have managed their best ever start to World Cup qualifying.

We should also not forget evergreen Giovanni Trapattoni, whose modest yet undefeated Ireland side are just three points behind world champions Italy in Group Eight.

Lampard and Gerrard: to play or not to play, that is the question


Lamps with Stevie G

Both are English, both are midfielders, both are top performers in the Premier League, both can’t play together for England…. Sound familiar?

The dilemma that seems a permanent thorn in any England manager’s side has reared its ugly head once more; how do you get Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to play well together.

You know football’s gone mad when…


 cheeky Mourinho

Italians haven’t quite cottoned on yet to Jose Mourinho’s sense of humour.

Inter Milan have put out a statement pointing out that their new coach was joking when he told a journalist he earned 14 million euros a year.

Is Eriksson the right man for Mexico?


Sven salutes the crowdSven-Goran Eriksson has not even been sacked by Manchester City, yet he already finds himself under fire in Mexico where he is widely expected to be named as the replacement for Hugo Sanchez.

Despite leading Manchester City to a respectable ninth place in the Premiership, it’s been widely reported that Eriksson is facing the chop and at the Mexican Federation they are optimistic about naming him as their new coach as early as Monday.