Friday, December 4, 2009

Cup Draw In T-minus...

I suppose it's obligatory to post something in advance of the World Cup draw, seeing as it can practically make or break a nation's Cup hopes.

The big brouhaha has been over FIFA's decision to base things on whatever they find most expedient for their needs. In this case, it was using the October FIFA rankings and scrapping past World Cup performance to determine the seeds, leading to the Netherlands getting a seed over France. I think based on current form that probably holds, but let's face it, FIFA made the change to punish France for the controversial nature of their qualification.

Second, FIFA grouped the CONCACAF nations in the pot with the five Asian and Oceana qualifiers, rather than with the five African qualifiers. This practically ensures the US will have a difficult draw, since they will face a seeded team, another European team, and either an African or South American team. The key will be to draw a weak Euro nation (I'll take an order of Greece thank you) or one of the weaker African nations (Algeria please). If the US doesn't draw South Africa from the seeded nations, it becomes more likely that they will face an African nation rather than South American from pot 3 since South Africa cannot face an African team from that pot, leaving only two South American teams for the remaining 7 groups.

Interestingly, this article points out that FIFA's decision to use the October rankings actually put the US surprisingly close to getting a seed. The "if" was rather large, so if Portugal and France failed to qualify, and with Croatia already not qualified, the US was next in line for the seed. Of course without needing to somehow rectify the France problem, FIFA probably would have used some other scheme which would have had the US in its same position.

Still, there's no point in trying to do a mock draw, which I find a useless exercise. On the other hand, FIFA has a way of partnering the inevitable when it comes to things like political or historical pairs (England-Argentina and France-Senegal in 2002, USA-Iran in 1998). Unfortunately FIFA can't pit the US against North Korea, but we could see rematches with Italy, who has become something of a nemesis recently, or Spain, and what would be the money on Spain trying to destroy the US to exact revenge for the Confederations Cup?

Anyway, in case you're the last person on Earth to see the pots, here they are:

POT 1 - Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Netherlands, England, Italy, Germany, South Africa

POT 2 - USA, Mexico, Honduras, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand

POT 3 - Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria

POT 4 - France, Portugal, Denmark, Slovenia, Greece, Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland

1 comment:

  1. Personally I've never liked the way that the world cup teams were seeded for the competition. For too long the teams that have had a past record of doing well in the competition have had a distinct advantage over those who have had no suck distinction. It has allowed those teams to have more favourable draws time and time again allowing them an easier passage to go further on in the competition.

    Regardless of the reasons behind the change of seeding system I think it can only be a good thing if it continues to be based on current form as that allows a smaller nation with an unusually talented pool of players the chance to do well.