Worlds Apart

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Worlds Apart

Byline: By Paul Abbandonato Western Mail

Even by their own standards, the FIFA rankings defy belief this morning. John Toshack's Wales team have been officially installed amongst the fourth batch of seeds for tomorrow's World Cup draw in Durban, as a result of being rated 58th in the FIFA list and 32nd best in Europe.

No real surprise there, you might say.

What will come as a shock, however, is the fact that Wales have not moved up a single position in the FIFA rankings.

Despite drawing away to world super-power Germany and at home to the Republic of Ireland, who were rated more than 20 places higher than Wales by FIFA.

This is a significant issue because, in terms of having a more favourable draw, Wales were hoping to climb five places amongst the European teams in a bid to sneak into the third batch of seeds for the World Cup.

To do this, two things had to happen.

Firstly, Wales had to achieve decent results against the Irish and, more notably, the Germans in their own Frankfurt backyard.

Secondly, the European teams Wales were looking to overhaul - Hungary, Bosnia, Slovakia, Belgium and Cyprus - had to have ordinary results themselves.

Toshack's men did the part of the equation which was in their own hands, by drawing with the Irish and then holding the Germans.

That, in itself, should have been enough to see them make significant strides up the new FIFA table which was unveiled yesterday.

As for the teams immediately above them, these were the results they have achieved in their own Euro 2008 qualifying finale.

Hungary lost to Greece, Bosnia lost to Turkey, Slovakia lost to the Czech Republic, Cyprus lost to the Czechs and the Germans.

And then we have Belgium. They lost to Poland, but beat European minnows Azerbaijan.

Yet Belgium have risen three places from 30th in Europe to 27th position, and thus into the third batch of seeds.

Wales have moved absolutely nowhere, even though their results were highly commendable.

Baffling, many will be saying this morning.

Whatever, the one thing we can guarantee is that FIFA are not going to change their rankings, so fourth pot it is for Toshack and his team when tomorrow's draw is made.

There will be a total of nine groups, eight of six teams and one of five.

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