This weekend will make and break the careers of some coaches and players. The European play-offs which will begin on Saturday the 14th November and conclude on the following Wednesday, will definitely be a must win for the likes of France, Portugal and Russia.
A world cup without the reigning world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo is simply unimaginable. Portugal who host Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday will be without their influential winger who is still recuperating from an ankle injury he sustained when he represented his country in a qualifying match in October.
France on the other hand have a full squad to face the Republic of Ireland. Nicholas Anelka, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will lead ‘Les Blues’ assault with the only exception being Frank Ribery who is still nursing an injury.
Embattled French coach Raymond Domenech knows that anything other than a win on Saturday will definitely put an end to his career. France is also another big nation that deserves to be in the world cup. Like i have always said before, there is need for all the big nations to qualify for there to be a truly amazing tournament in South Africa.
Saturday’s other matches will see Ukraine face Greece while Slovenia will travel to Russia to face off with Guus Hidink’s Boys at the Luzhnikhi stadium. These however will not be the only play-off matches. In the South America and Concacaf region, Costa Rica will host a Uruguay side that slightly missed out on direct qualification.
These round of fixtures will conclude on Wednesday. By this time we will know the 32 nations that will have qualified for the World Cup and the next important date to keep in mind will be December 4th. This is when the final draw for the group stages will take place. There is no doubt that football lovers are in for an amazing few days of football.