The opening games of the World Cup playoffs on Wednesday were massively disappointing as Mexico and Uruguay thrashed New Zealand and Jordan respectively.
I understand FIFA’s idea of giving more teams from different parts of the world the ability to qualify for the World Cup Final, but what we learned on Wednesday was that there is a huge variation on competitiveness between the different federations.
Mexico barely reached the playoff stage of World Cup qualifying after finishing fourth in CONCACAF mainly because of their inability to win at Azteca. That was not a problem against an over matched New Zealand side as Mexico thrashed them 5-1. To rub things in, Mexico won with a 100% domestic squad as coach Miguel Herrera opted to leave out the likes of Javier Chicharito Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Memo Ochoa.
Uruguay also booked their place to next summers World Cup as they thrashed Jordan 5-0 in their intercontinental playoff first leg on Wednesday. The South American giants, sixth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, overcame a few tense minutes at the start of the game at the packed Amman International Stadium to seal an emphatic victory against the Jordanians, ranked 70th, who failed to live up to the hype and expectation generated in their own country.
The second legs for both these ties are on 20 November. Today we should see more competitive playoff games as the European first leg games are played with the big one being Sweden v Portugal. Ibra v Ronaldo.