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January 29, 2008

Greece in a 2010 World Cup draw - again

2010_world_cup_logo Tomorrow Greece will find out where and when they are playing their qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They already know who they are playing - Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova and Switzerland. It is a group that should almost certainly see Greece qualify for their first World Cup since USA 1994.

However, the teams haven't been able to agree upon a fixture list, so FIFA will be drawing the games out at random in a conference room in Zagreb. The only other group unable to arrange their matches involves Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, Spain and Turkey.

It is usually quite easy to look at the team line-ups and spot who is likely to have been the intransigent party, but, as I say, with Group 2 looking like Greece's for the taking, it is is difficult to guess which of the countries got shirty about their fixtures.

Fate has a way of sorting these things out. The last time a group with England in failed to agree their dates, it was because of an issue between Turkey and England. England wanted to avoid at all costs their away match against Turkey being near the end of the campaign. The result of the draw - Turkey vs England as the last match in Istanbul (Κωνσταντινούπολις to Greek readers)

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So you're looking for a country that's causing trouble, refusing to get on with their neighbours, ignoring international rulings.... it's not going to be the Swiss or Luxembourg, is it. Let's face it, it's Israel. You'd think if you were invited to someone else's party (ie: Europe) then you'd at least behave!

Well, it takes two to fail to agree fixtures - so for Group 5 I'd finger Turkey, Spain and Belgium unable to agree a set of fixtures that maximises either Turkey or Spain's chance of nicking top spot. I reckon Turkey wanted Spain at home near the end.

In Group 2 I've a hunch that actually Switzerland may be the problem. They must also see this as a good chance to qualify for the World Cup, and haven't had to play qualifiers for two years so are probably trying to avoid any difficult away matches early on, whereas if I was Greece or Israel I'd want to be the first place Switzerland had to visit.

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