Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Conserve Energy: Ignore Ho-Hum World Cup Qualifiers
For a variety of reasons, I'll spare you the boredom of previewing any of Wednesday's World Cup qualifiers. Yes, Croatia-England is intriguing and Portugal-Denmark could be worth tuning in to as would Turkey-Belgium and even Macedonia-Netherlands given the hosts' win over Scotland.
Sure, I'll be looking for the scores tomorrow night, and so will you. But really, I won't devote much more energy to it. You see, we're still basically 14 months away from settling on the final 32 for South Africa and today, there are just too many Armenias, Macedonias, Honduras' around for my liking. I don't like underdogs. I don't really like upsets. And I don't give a damn most of tomorrow's games. Call me next summer when the games matter.
Better yet, call me when FIFA fixes the qualifying faux pas that is the current system.
I railed about the ho-hum nature of the qualifiers on Sept. 4. But I thought I was alone. As I started poking around the net and listening to the World Soccer Daily podcast, I found that I wasn't.
In fact, it was there I heard a reasonable alternative to the current glut of qualifiers. Basically, the idea goes, in Europe any way, that the 16 teams that qualify for the Euro essentially qualify for the final round of World Cup qualifiers. In the interim, the minnows slog it out to join them in a final 24.
Not only does this raise the intrigue and the stakes for Euro, but cuts down on the already murderous schedule players have to endure. Clubs would prosper with healthier, more available players and we would be spared tragedies such as what befell Michael Essien and Chelsea. Essien tore his ACL (ask New England Patriots fans what an ACL is; they're well-versed) during a qualifier for Ghana against Libya. Essien is probably done for the better part of a year.
Do we really need the Andorras of the world in the way? Faroe Islands? Do we watch the World Cup to see these guys? Honestly, no. Put them on a figurative raft, let them beat each other over the head to determine who survives--and ultimately led to the slaughter against the 16 best Europe has to offer. And then, and only then, if Iceland gets into the World Cup will they get a tip of the cap.
Until then, I'll see you next summer.