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2010 - The Qualifiers So Far

Sunday, September 27, 2009

There is a massive sense of anticipation for next Summer's World Cup in South Africa. Following the exciting Confederations Cup which was also hosted by the Bafana Bafana, people are becoming more eager for what awaits them next July. In this article, I will take a look at the 10 qualifiers so far and give some insight to their prospects in 2010.

Europe

England
England had a top notch qualifiying campaign, winning all 8 of their qualifiying games fighting off their closest challenger for the automatic qualifiying spot, Croatia with relative ease. England must still play Belarus at Wembley on October 14th but this should be no problem for Capello's men. Can the English lift their first Jules Rimet since 1966 in 2010? It's a very realistic possibility and this is highlighted by their excellent run in Group 6 of the qualifiers however, it seems that they consistently fall at the last hurdle under the pressure of public expectation. Capello has spoke recently of his retirement from football following the end of his current contract so with a lot of work and a bit of luck, I believe that John Terry, Steven Gerrard and the rest of the England stars can help Fabio to fulfill his final challenge of lifting the World Cup in 2010.

Netherlands
Like their English counterparts, the Dutch managed to fend off the relatively weak Norwegians to notch up 8 wins on their way to World Cup qualification. Many thought that Scotland under George Burley would be able to snatch up the play off place in Group 9 however they had a far inferior goal difference to Norway and so this left them high and dry. Holland had a thrilling start to their Euro 2008 venture beating Italy and France convincingly before easing past Romania to win their group. A weak showing against Guus Hiddink's Russia meant that they failed at the Quarter Final stage though. The current Dutch side is a far cry from what it once was however if players like Arjen Robben, Klaas Huntelaar and John Heitinga really show up on the day next year, it is possible that with luck they'll work their way to the Semi Final but even this stage seems a little bit optimistic for the Dutch men.

Spain
Once again, the Spaniards are unbeaten so far in the qualifiers but must play Armenia and Bosnia & Herzegovina next month. They shoul breeze past both opponents easily enough however the Bosnians have had a surprisingly strong campaign and it looks like they will pip Turkey for the play off spot in Group 5. Spain are arguably the strongest national side in the world at the moment and are most definitely considered by all to be contenders for Italy's throne. They can boast of having arguably the two best strikers in the world among their ranks in Villa and Torres. They have almost unrivalled strength and versatility in midfield with Alonso, Fabregas and Xavi all vying for spots in the centre of midfield with the options of Riera, Busquets, Silva, Cazorla and Mata all able to play out wide. Reina provides top class cover for superstar captain, Casillas in goals while budding youngster, Gerard Pique has made a name for himself as an aggressive centre back and may push Puyol out to full back so that he can start in the centre with Marchena with Albiol controlling the other flank. With such strength in a side, I think that Spain, judging by their strength and options, can with the right drive and work ethic, win next year's World Cup in South Africa.

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