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Thursday, December 04, 2008

How Did I Miss The Homeless World Cup

I'm always on the lookout for the World Cup related stories, so the fact that I've only just discovered the Homeless World Cup football tournament stuns me.

Yup, there really is a World Cup for homeless people. And yes, you have to be genuinely homeless to take part. And, would you believe, there are 56 nations participating in the competition.

Now, while I'm going to resist the urge to poke fun at the tournament (mainly because it actually seems like a very good idea), I cannot help but mock the fact that the top seed - and holders - are, wait for it...Scotland.

For some reason, the fact that Scotland's homeless are the world's best at football comes as little surprise to me.

Nor am I going to resist the overwhelming desire to have a good laugh at The Glasgow Daily's Record's clear pride in their team's 13-1 victory over Belgium. "A resounding victory", indeed.



posted by mark_s at 2:20 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It Was A Tough Decision...But Everyone Wanted Him Gone

So, the Bulgarian FA have sacked the national team manager for only achieving three draws in their Group 8 World Cup qualification matches so far.

Plamen Markov was fired today. Hardly unusual for a manager to be fired, for sure. But the thing I liked about it the most was that the head of the Bulgarian Football Union suggested it was a "tough decision" that followed a "serious discussion as we wanted to understand why the national team doesn't perform well on the pitch".

In truth, the decision was so "tough" that it was unanimous - with all 13 committee members agreeing to end Markov's reign as national coach. Sounds like a tough decision to me.

It's interesting that, although third in the group, Bulgaria have achieved a creditable home draw with Italy and haven't lost either of their away matches either. They are yet to play the Republic of Ireland and I think they are fairly well placed to take second place in the group.

OK, so that wouldn't mean automatic qualification, but in a group that contains World Cup holders Italy, second would be as much as the Bulgarian football team could realistically expect.

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posted by mark_s at 8:58 PM 0 comments

Monday, December 01, 2008

So, Africa...What Have You Got For Us This Time

The African qualifying groups for World Cup 2010 are always a particular favourite of mine, as they are rarely predictable and - as things get tense - there are often accusations and counter-accusations of cheating, voodoo and bribery.

Unfortunately, this time around the seeding of the teams will most likely make things a little more predictable.

The seeds for the final group stages are, somewhat predictably: Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Egypt.

Of these, Egypt has the easiest group - meeting Algeria, Rwanda and Zambia and I fully expect them to qualify for their first World Cup finals since 1990.

I am hopeful for a little bit of craziness in Nigeria's group (Group 2) as they face Kenya, Tunisia and Mozambique. If there's one thing you can be certain of, they'll make it hard work for themselves as usual.

We'll just have to see how things pan out.

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posted by mark_s at 1:00 PM 0 comments