Saturday, November 28, 2009

Stars, Top Teams Who Won't Be in SA

In the previous post, we noted that Asia is pretty much missing in action from South Africa 2010.

And leading up to the final few qualifying matches, we were keeping close tabs on Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal -- the last two Fifa players of the year -- as their teams struggled to join the 32 going to the 2010 World Cup finals.

Those two players have made it. But several well-known players have not. As well as some fairly well-known soccer nations.

For example:

Andrei Shevchenko of the Ukraine. Andrei Arshavin of Russia. Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden.

For each, their World Cup aspirations were dashed late in the process. For those first two, literally on the last day of qualifying. For Ibrahimovic, on the final week of European group play, when Sweden was caught and passed by Portugal for second place -- and lost out on the chance to qualify via Europe's home-and-home second-place playoffs.

South Africa's news agency did a collection of the guys playing "left out" in 2010, which can be seen here. The story, printed in the Johannesburg Times, also notes how two of the most famous players of the last half-century never did play in a World Cup -- George Best and George Weah, who each played internationally for weak sides (Northern Ireland and Liberia, respectively).

In terms of missing teams, we have Turkey and Croatia, each of which are semifinalists of fairly recent vintage -- Croatia in 1998, Turkey in 2002. Also not coming: Egypt, the reigning African championship.

Russia will be missed by some, along with Arshavin. The Russians currently are ranked No. 13 in the world.

It's inevitable that some good teams and good players won't be at a given World Cup. Tha's why they have qualifying and not direct seeding from rankings.

Actually, when we look at South Africa 2010, the people and sides we would miss most ... are safely in the field.

And here is the rest of it.
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