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Saturday, October 08, 2005

World Cup Qualifiers Results

I'll cover England's shocking performance against Austria in another post, but here's a quick round up of today's European groups results

England 1 Austria 0 (England qualify for World Cup 2006 as a result of the result below)

Holland 2 Czech Republic 0 (Holland qualify)

Northern Ireland 2 Wales 3 (neither team qualifies, but it was a hell of lot better football than the England v Austria match )

Denmark 1 Greece 0

Georgia 0 Kazakhstan 0

Ukraine 2 Albania 2 (Ukraine already qualified)

Bulgaria 2 Hungary 0

Croatia 1 Sweden 0 (not the classic expected, but Croatia qualify for Germany 2006)

Finland 0 Romania 1 (Romania now take second place in Group 1 ahead of the Czechs' and are a possibility for the play-offs)

Portugal 2 Liechtenstein 1 (Portugal are through to the Finals)

Russia 5 Luxembourg 1

Slovakia 1 Estonia 0

Cyprus 0 Rep of Ireland 1 ( still all to play for in this crazy group, but the Republic must beat Switzerland to get a play-off place)

Israel 2 Faroe Islands 1

Switzerland 1 France 1

Italy 1 Slovenia 0 (Italy win their group with their uniquely boring brand of football and will be overpriced yet again to win the Finals)

Norway 1 Moldova 0

Scotland 0 Belarus 1 (Scotland can no longer qualify)

Belgium 0 Spain 2

Bosnia-Herzegovina 3 San Marino 0

Lithuania 0 Serbia & Montenegro 2

posted by mark_s at 11:13 PM 0 comments

Scotland Vs Belarus

With four teams scrapping it out for second spot in the group, this is a must win game for both teams. It's three points or out, so we're unlikely to see a repeat of the stalemate between the sides back in June. On their recent form, Scotland are more than entitled to win this but, from a punting perspective, the odds of 8/15 are not great.

Instead, we'll back the value option by playing the correct score market. Scotland's four home games so far have produced five goals, so we'll split stakes on a 1-0 or2-0 win, at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively.

Bet Live In-Play on this match at Bet365 and claim your free bets.

posted by mark_s at 9:51 AM 0 comments

Friday, October 07, 2005

These Boots Are Made For Walking...Not Football

Complaints are growing about the bladed studs that have become fashionable with footballers this season. Right at the start of the season, Neil Warnock - manager of English Championship side Sheffield United - banned his players from using them, saying they were dangerous and could cause serious injury.

Now, both
Roy Keane and Damien Duff have suffered nasty injuries largely as a result of these boots. It's time these boots were banned from competitive use. It's that simple. The very fact that these injuries to key players throws Ireland's chances of qualifying automatically for Germany 2006 into doubt is enough of a reason. Not to mention the financial cost in wages/potential points to the clubs involved. I'm only surprised there hasn't been more of an outcry.

posted by mark_s at 8:29 PM 0 comments

Who Will Qualify from Group 4 ?

The tighest fought of the European groups is Group 4 where any one of Israel, France, Switzerland or the Republic of Ireland can still win the group. Good football and a little bit of luck permitting.

It's a testimony to how tight this group really is when you look at the fact that Israel are relying on results going their way in other matches and yet they haven't lost a game so far.

Their coach, Avraham Grant , remains impressively bullish about his team's chances and rightfully points out :

"The fact that we are facing our final game and that we still have a chance to qualify is testimony to how far Israeli soccer has come."

While I'd like to see the Irish at Germany 2006, I wish the Israelis all the best. It would be a shame to see them beat the Faroe Islands, finish the qualifying campaign unbeaten and still not reach the World Cup soccer finals. This would be a travesty and is another indicator of the ridiculousness bias against European teams in the qualification process.

posted by mark_s at 7:24 PM 0 comments

Wales vs Northern Ireland

NORTHERN IRELAND v WALES : Sat Oct 8 - 3:00 pm ko (BBC1 - NI/ BBC2 - Wales)

by Nigel Ridgway of

Wales are winless in 14 competitive games and will be desperate to get something out of their World Cup campaign. However, they may have to have to wait until their final game against Azerbaijan to restore some Welsh pride, as the Irish look well up to the task.

Their recent 1-0 win over England was no fluke, while they deserved their draw in Cardiff too, and this well organised side should be backed at 8/5 to follow up. Live betting is available on this match at Bet365. Click here for Bet365 and claim up to £100/$200 in free bets.


posted by mark_s at 10:28 AM 0 comments

Rio Dropped From England Qualifier

Wanted to get this in early (1: 10 am) as it's going to be in the morning editions of the newspapers. Rio Ferdinand has been dropped from the team for the Austria match. On the basis of form and attitude in recent weeks, this is no bad thing.

However, it's looking likely his replacement is going to be Sol Campbell. Now - despite the fact that I'm a Spurs supporter - I have nothing against Campbell. He is, undoubtedly, a great full back and he does add a certain attacking threat. Nevertheless, he's played all of three games since returning from injury.

Can Campbell really be said to be back to his sharpest ? Clearly not. Do we have alternatives who are playing out of their skins and who deserve a chance. Yup. We have Jamie Carragher from Liverpool and Ledley King from the mighty Tottenham Hotspur. If England are looking for a bit of that extra attacking threat that Campbell offers; then Ledley King should really be the man to replace Ferdinand.

It's a shame that's not what's going to happen.

posted by mark_s at 1:00 AM 0 comments

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Can England Get The Three Points They Need ?

By Nigel Ridgway of :

ENGLAND v AUSTRIA Sat Oct 8 - 4:00 pm ko (BBC)

With England at prohibitive odds of 2/9 for a game that they should (must)win, the correct play could be in the goals markets. In the hope that we won't see Sven experimenting this time, we can expect a few goals from the anticipated Crouch / Owen combo up front (1/2 that they play up front together), which brought Owen a hat-trick against Colombia in the summer.

The Austrians are in disarray, with only Azerbaijan and Wales having failed to score against them in qualifying, while even Scotland managed to breach their defence in a recent friendly, so a bet on over 2.5 goals looks best here. At the same time, Michael Owen looks a fair bet at 7/2 to open the scoring, especially considering Bet365 will give you your money back if he scores the last goals in the game instead. Once the game kicks off, don't forget to check out our 14 live In-Play markets via the new 'In-Play Console.'

Best Bets : England v Austria - 'Over' 2.5 goals @ 6/5 / Michael Owen to score first @7/2

Visit Bet365 for live, in-running betting plus free bets for all new customers. Odds available in American, Decimal or Fractional styles. Click to visit Bet365 .


posted by mark_s at 11:40 AM 0 comments

World Cup Qualifiers Betting Promotions

Those chaps over at VictorChandler are offering a 'treble your winnings' promotion on the qualifying matches involving British teams :

England v Austria, N.Ireland v Wales, Scotland v Belarus

Have a bet on the First Goalscorer and if your player scores twice
>VC Bet will double your winnings, three times and they'll TREBLE YOUR WINNINGS! .

Owen to score first is always a worthwhile punt (currently at 11/4 with Victor Chandler ) , so this is definitely a promotion worth taking. It's available to all punters not just new registrations, so click here to visit Victor Chandler Online.

Other odds from Victor Chandler can be seen in the scrolling ticker on the right.

posted by mark_s at 11:31 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ireland Coach Kerr Under Pressure - Why ?

There is a growing body of opinion that should the Republic of Ireland fail to achieve at least a play-off place then coach Brian Kerr will be out of a job . My own view is that this is crazy considering the bizarre route that their qualifying group has taken. France have underperformed, Switzerland and Israel have over-performed and there is all still to play for.

France aside, none of the other three contenders can be said to have 'failed' in any way during this qualifying campaign and if you don't fail you shouldn't lose your job. I'm still hoping that the Republic win their last two games and they should certainly start with a victory over Cyprus. have them at a best priced 2/7 for the victory. Take the easy money. Click here to visit

posted by mark_s at 11:26 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

England V Austria Betting

Those lovely people at SportingOdds would like to offer you the following free bet on the England vs Austria game :

£25 Free bet England Vs Austria : Register with SportingOdds and bet £10 or more on any Football market and we'll give you a Free £25 Bet on England v Austria . All you need to do is visit Sporting Odds, sign up and place your bets.

Click to visit .

posted by mark_s at 10:37 PM 0 comments

Monday, October 03, 2005

England World Cup Qualifiers Squad

OK, here's the full squad for the all important qualifiers against Austria and Poland :

Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Kirkland (West Bromwich Albion), Robert Green (Norwich City)

Defenders: Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Phil Neville (Everton), Luke Young (Charlton), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), John Terry (Chelsea), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), Ledley King (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Joe Cole(Chelsea), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), David Beckham (Real Madrid), Alan Smith (Manchester United), Kieran Richardson (Manchester United), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham Hotspur)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Michael Owen (Newcastle United), Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur).

The interesting thing is the omission of David James in favour of Robert Green (who hasn't had a great season at Norwich so far) and Chris Kirkland. I'm not a fan of James and would like to see another keeper really make a case for the role of understudy to Robinson. Nevertheless, he has been playing well for Manchester City this season and probably deserves a squad place on merit.

The lack of a call up for either Scott Parker or Danny Murphy has been a little bit of a surprise as well, especially as both Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves are currently crocked. Good to see Alan Smith recalled though...I've always had a lot of time for Alan Smith and think he's totally underrated. Mind you, he would probably be rated more highly if his managers' ever played him in his natural position of striker.

posted by mark_s at 2:00 PM 1 comments

Much Adu About Freddy

Apologies for the appallingly tabloid style title to this post but I couldn't resist.

I saw a piece on this American kid Freddy Adu over the weekend and felt I had to mention him. For those that don't know who he is, he's a 16 year old soccer player in the US MLS. But more than that, he's absolutely phenomenal. Just quite brilliant. I'd heard his name before and knew that there was some interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, but had never seen any footage of him playing. I was staggered. And if you still haven't seen him,
here's some video clips.

So when will the rest of the football world get to see this kid in action ? At the World Cup, right ? Um..well, despite the fact he makes Adriano look like Robbie Savage, he's not even in the USA team ? According to manager, Bruce Arena, they're looking after him because he's so young and playing at a World Cup finals might be premature !

Crazy. This kid is brilliant. Pele played in World Cup Finals at about the same age, Michael Owen wasn't much older. It's foolishness of the highest order not to play him now when he's fit and fresh...he could have his career ended by injury at any time in the next four years, so why not give young Adu the chance to shine. Ya never know, it might really kick start an interest in soccer in the USA and then football really would become the world's game.

posted by mark_s at 1:46 PM 0 comments