Thursday, December 07, 2006

2010 World Cup Places

The host's spot (South Africa) will NOT count as part of the CAF's (Africa) five spots. This is very interesting, because I always assumed that this should be the way it's done. However, with the places changing every time you could never tell for sure exactly if that was the case or not. I know that the in the 1994 qualifying, CONCACAF only got one spot because the USA hosted. They previously had two in 1990. But I used to play Championship/Football Manager, and they similarly took the host's spot out of the regular places. Not that they were perfectly accurate.

Seems it varies from tourney to tourney. For example, in the 2005 U17 World Cup, only two CONMEBOL teams qualified along with Peru as hosts. Same for Finland in the 2003 edition. But that's changed for 2007 (partly due to an increase in teams from 16 to 24). This change is the correct thing to do for all worldwide international tournaments. The host's place should be separate.

The other big change is that now CONCACAF's fourth place team will play CONMEBOL's fifth place team in the playoffs. Last time CONCACAF played AFC (Asia); the matchup was Trinidad vs Bahrain. This also makes complete sense, and was entirely predictable. For those who don't remember, originally OFC (Oceania) was given their own full spot in the 2006 World Cup, leaving CONMEBOL with only four. As the only confederations with half spots, that's why CONCACAF and AFC were matched up. It was only later that half a place was taken from OFC and given to CONMEBOL, creating another playoff.

Actually, it's moot because now the OFC champion will compete in the AFC's final round. It's scary that FIFA is making such good decisions. Last time AFC's final round consisted of eight teams; with the addition of Australia and the OFC champion it makes sense to go to ten. That's what I'm predicting. New Zealand should be able to hold their own against teams like Bahrain and Uzbekistan, although they probably don't have enough talent to make it.

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