Saturday, December 5, 2009
No easy draw for Socceroos after seeded in weakest pot
THE Socceroos face being grouped with two powerhouses at next year's World Cup after France and Portugal were left unseeded for Saturday morning's draw.
FIFA said last night the seeds were selected according to the world rankings as of October, meaning Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, and England made the grade. South Africa was also seeded in Pot One as the host nation.
France and Portugal's omission means they are in Pot Four along with the rest of the European teams, Denmark, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Switzerland.
With one team from each pot to be drawn in each group, Australia faces the possibility of drawing a seeded team, such as Brazil or England, and either France or Portugal in the group stage.
The Socceroos are in Pot Two alongside Asian rivals Japan, North Korea and South Korea, CONCACAF qualifiers Honduras, Mexico, the US and neighbour New Zealand, killing off any hopes of a trans-Tasman clash in the group stage.
Pot Three features Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Algeria.
The Socceroos could still draw a relatively favourable group that featured South Africa, and the likes of Algeria and Slovenia, but the worst case could be a group of Brazil, France and African powerhouse Ivory Coast.
FIFA denied France, ranked seventh in the world, had been relegated from the seeds because of the controversial way it qualified, with Thierry Henry's handball putting Les Bleus through at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.
FIFA said the teams had been drawn with geographical criteria respected, meaning that no two teams from the same confederation will be drawn in the same group, except the Europeans, where a maximum of two will be in a group.
The French delegation travelled to Cape Town confident it would be among the seven heavyweights of world football to join host South Africa in the top strata, ensuring a relatively easier draw for the group stages.
But it was shocked when FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke announced the Netherlands would fill the remaining spot.
French optimism had been based on the way the seeds were decided four years ago for the World Cup in Germany.
No easy draw for Socceroos
TOUGH TASK: The Socceroos face being grouped with two powerhouses at next year's World Cup. Picture: AP
On that occasion, the latest FIFA rankings at that time had been taken into consideration along with performances in the two previous World Cups.
This time, however, Valcke said the seeding system was purely based on the FIFA rankings of October.
In those, France was ninth, but one place ahead of it was Croatia, which failed to qualify for the finals.
But with South Africa already assured of being among the seeds, only seven places were available and France lost out on that criteria.
Valcke said FIFA felt that was the most efficient way of ensuring the best teams of the moment were allocated seeding privileges.
Posted by Panchapor at 8:28 AM