World Cup qualifying: At last, closure (part 2 of 2).

Whew, OK. A night to think. Part 1 was quick yet satisfying (that’s what she said?) but maybe I’ll say a few more words about the final day of qualifying for World Cup 2010, and the six nations that booked the final six places in the tournament.

Portugal instead of Bosnia. Suck it, Begovic. Suck it, suck it and — in Maradona’s immortal words — keep sucking it. Call it petty and juvenile if you must — or, as Jason Davis did, give me the award for bitterest Canadian — but it feels good to know that Begovic will be spending the next four years doing the same thing as the Canadian teammates he turned his back on: not playing in the World Cup. Now, it’s kind of a shame that young phenomenon Edin Dzeko and the rest of the admittedly exciting Bosnian roster won’t get a shot… and I definitely take no pleasure in seeing the whinging, flopping Portuguese making it to the big show. But sometimes you have to hitch your wagon to the lesser of two evils. (Of course, if Dani Fernandes were actually with the Portuguese first team, I’d be praying for a stadium collapse — which didn’t look too far from happening by the end of things.)

France instead of Ireland. Yikes. As if the Irish fans weren’t riled up enough about FIFA’s Magic 8-Ball (as in cocaine, not the children’s toy) seeding system that put them up against the French in the first place, now this. As Grant rightly argues elsewhere on this blog, it’s easy to vilify Henry for cheating (which is what he did), but ultimately what he did is no different than what any other footballer would do in the same situation (aside from some hypothetical, imaginary player of impeccable scruples). That doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it any easier for Irish fans to swallow, but that’s the shitty reality of human nature. I’m not trying to absolve Henry of wrongdoing (as I’d probably be sitting in a jail cell — or be dead — right now if some Honduran pulled a similar stunt against Canada), but as a neutral in this instance, it’s tough for me to get particularly passionate about calls for a replay or the institution of video replay (though I’m not necessarily opposed to either of those options).

Ah well, Ireland fans can always take solace in the hope that France will have a repeat of its showing in 2002.

Slovenia instead of Russia. Well, he’s Super Guus no more. Hiddink couldn’t work his magic, and at least one underdog Balkan nation scraped their way into the finals. I jokingly tweeted “Guus Hiddink for Canada!” about three minutes after the Russians unceremoniously crashed out of the tournament, which some people — oddly enough — took seriously. Hmm. Anyway, I didn’t really get a chance to see much of this game, and while it’s unfortunate that guys like Arshavin will be missing out on the World Cup, there’s always next time!

Greece instead of Ukraine. Fuck me sideways.

Algeria instead of Egypt. It’s tough to imagine a more emotionally tumultuous couple of days, in the life of a sports fan, than the ones experienced by fans of Algeria and Egypt this week. Egypt, 20 seconds away from elimination, achieving unbelievable last-second salvation on Saturday… Algeria, 20 seconds away from qualification, being summarily shanked with the cruelest dagger of all, the last-second collapse, only to come back three days later and grind out an exciting victory over their rivals and wash away the bad memories from the weekend. Many thought this tournament might be the chance for (ostensibly) Africa’s strongest contender, Egypt, to break back into the World Cup, but alas, it was not to be. I don’t imagine there are many people on Earth who can say the best night of their lives came during a trip to Khartoum, Sudan, but among the traveling Algerian supporters yesterday, there were surely a few.

Uruguay instead of Costa Rica. From a purely historical point of view, seeing Uruguay back in the tournament is a good thing; of course, they hosted (and won) the inaugural edition of the World Cup — plus, y’know, South Americans are generally enjoyable to watch when it comes to this kicky-ball thing. The big downside of this for us is that having the Ticos make it through may have (in some small way) helped convince FIFA that CONCACAF is worthy of another qualifying spot, which would of course help Canada (at least, in theory). Ah well, it’s only a matter of time until Jack Warner usurps Sepp Blatter at the top of the soccer mountain, at which point our continental zone will get eight guaranteed spots (including a permanent automatic spot for Trinidad & Tobago). So for now, we can just enjoy the show.

The draw for World Cup 2010 goes down on December 4. It’s gonna be a doozy.

One Response to “World Cup qualifying: At last, closure (part 2 of 2).”

  1. Could you imagine a Jack Warner-run World Cup?..

    During the group stage, the Socas would be pooled against Malta, San Marino, and Madagascar, who were all given automatic placements to ensure T&T a vacation through the group. Coming up against Germany in the first knock-out round, all German players would suddenly come down with severely bruised knee caps, and would be replaced by Germany’s U-14 side, who would still take the Socas to extra time. After supplying Maradona with a dump truck full of cocaine, Argentina would concede an own goal in the 89th to give T&T a trip to the final, where they’d be gift-wrapped (literally) the world cup by Brazil. It would come to the surface about two weeks later that a day before the magical underdog victory a massive infusion of money from FIFA was given to every Brazillian town that each player on Brazil’s roster grew up in. Warner, from his gold-plated thrown in Switzerland, would claim he knew nothing about it, as he was too busy handing out money-lined “care packages” to all the World Cup officials during the competition.

    Canada still won’t have made it, losing out on a Honduran penalty in the 90th after a Costly dive… outside the box mind you.

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