Too Many Poor Teams In the World Cup

December 5, 2009 at 5:52 am | Posted in General Football, World Cup 2010 | 10 Comments

Today was the draw for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.   While I have become a bit disenchanted with the World Cup because the tournament has been rather poor the last couple of times, I must admit I found the draw to be very exciting.

The World Cup, however,  now has too many weak teams in the finals which dilutes the quality of the football.  I far preferred the WC when there were only 24 teams.   Even when there were 24 teams there was always a team or two that had no hope (Canada being one in 1986).   This time we have multiple teams with absolutely no hope of doing any damage whatsoever.

North Korea is a very poor team indeed and should simply not be allowed to play in the finals.  I can only imagine how terribly they are going to get beaten by Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire and Portugal. True, they did make it to the Quarter-finals in 1966 in the English World Cup, but they have not been in the WC since and will surely embarrass themselves by being mere cannon fodder for the other teams in their group. Because they are in the “Group Of Death” this time around, the other three teams will be merciless in running up the score against them because second place may well be decided by goal difference.   We can also look for the entire team to defect so they can escape the prison camp that is North Korea.  Wait, no, they will play poorly because they will be so worried about the threats made to their families back home if they do defect that they will be in no mood to worry about the score.

Another loser team will be New Zealand.   Then there is Algeria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Honduras, and the host nation itself,  South Africa.  Were SA required to qualify they would not have made the World Cup at all.  They are a poor team that is in a shambles.  Unless they get their act together they may just embarrass themselves as well. Frankly, none of these teams deserve to be in the finals. None of these teams is going to quicken our pulse as football fans.

The first World Cup that I watched with interest was the 1982 World Cup.  That World Cup had 24 teams and was superb. 1982 featured two group stages and produced some astonishing Football.   The 1986 World Cup also had some stunning moments.   It all went downhill when 32 teams were allowed in the Finals in France 1998. Germany 2006, with 32 teams in the tournament,  featured games which were so abominably poor they were not worth watching.  Poland v Ecuador was one such riveting match, and Ukraine v Switzerland was enough to put you off of football for good.

I fear we will see some very poor matches indeed in South Africa 2010 because too many poor teams have been allowed in to the tournament.  When the standard in these games is below that of games we might see in the English Championship,  one has to wonder what FIFA is thinking about (other than money, of course!).   The tournament should go back to 24 teams.  I know there is a snowball’s chance in hell this will happen, but if it did happen it would guarantee quality games and a quality World Cup.

I know I am dreaming, but the World Cup should be about football excellence, not mediocrity.



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  1. I think you should TiVO the ones you want to watch and just forget about the rest.

    Just think of what it means for countries like “Algeria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Honduras” (with all due respect to them, as I can’t share your opinion of them being called “poor” in terms of footy — mainly because I haven’t seen them playing) to go to a World Cup final. It’s not just money to FIFA, which I’m sure there is, but to the development of this sport worldwide.

    Otherwise it’s always the same teams playing the same boring matches. I bet you like Manchester United to win every year or Barcelona/R.Madrid in Spain, etc. (I know you, so I know that’s not the case, but it’s what it sounds like)

    Come to think of it, this blog post reminds me a bit of that nonsense I hear every now and then that the “real world cup” is the euro cup. Yeah right. And speaking of “poor” countries, I wonder why you didn’t mention Italy in your list. There is nothing more boring and frustrating than watching one of their games. Especially when they are so good and effective at their ultra-defensive style. 😉

    And watch out with these so called “poor countries”. You hear it here first: Algeria 2 – 1 England 😉

    (Although, I’ll hate it if they do so playing an ultra-defensive game.. LOL)


    • Esto: sure, everyone calls this a New England team, new era, but some have some doubts still and these players didn’t respect McLaren like they do Capello and Sven was his own man. Discipline has been their key, they won all of those games but still ended up losing to Ukraine there but a very good campaign nonetheless after missing the Euro.

      But when I see this group, I figure if England played like they did in ’06 where in the group stage, they defeated Paraguay via an own goal I think, something like that, Beckham’s shot and into the goal, struggled hard against Trinidad and Tobago and won and drew Sweden, these teams could be trouble for them as well.

      New era but there are often flops on the world stage too.

      But I agree with White Caps Fan that the tournament has gotten a bit big, that is true, for the sake of money. Same thing with expanding the Euro Tournament. The last two Euros have been good tournaments, especially the last one. But Scotland and Ireland might get into it still. Hard to call. In ways, I think it’s good.

  2. Thanks for your comment Esto…
    I hope I am wrong… I would love on see Algeria go on a tear, but I don’t think it will happen. I think we forget that all countries recognized by FIFA get to play in the World Cup… But not all get to play in the finals. To allow teams into the finals just for the feel good factor does not cut it with me. Just let the strong teams in! Look at Ivory Coast for instance. They are a strong team that deserves to be there. They qualified for the World Cup for the first time in Germany, and this time around they certainly merit inclusion. In fact, if they can get out of their group, I can see them getting as far as the Semi final. Ivory Coast is not a team that we are used to seeing time after time in the WC. I do not agree with the notion that the Euro Cup is the real world cup. When you consider the fourth round of the draw was all European teams, it is clear to me there are too many European teams. I say cut four spots from Europe, one from Africa, one from Asia, one from South America and one other spot to get us back down to 24 teams.

    About Italy: don’t forget that some of the best ever matches in World Cup history involved Italy: The 1970 win over West Germany; the game against Brazil in 1982; The loss to Brazil in 1970 and the win in the Final against Germany in 1982.

    • I think West Germany marred the 1982 World Cup, they colluded in most people’s opinions with Austria to a draw eliminating Algeria and then, they played dirty with Schumacher tackling the French attacker. So many world cups are also farces or decided by underhanded tactics, like Maradona’s hand of god, not to deny he is one of the greatest players but that was still cheating and the world cup is full of it and West Germany botched up the 1982 tournament and shouldn’t have been in the final.

  3. You know, if teams like Slovenia which by the way, this is the 2nd world cup for the young country and in the past, Latvia to the Euro, etc. can make these tournaments, surely Scotland was in regards to your other post.

    In the end, I think, these teams deserve it. Brian Glanville at called this a mediocre field and maybe he is right.

    I sympathize with Algeria, some of their players got hurt going to the game in Egypt, rocks through the bus windows and were forced into a playoff. On top of that, there is the history of West Germany and Austria drawing in ’82 eliminating them from the competition despite Algeria defeating West Germany. Bitter pill.

    In 1966, the North Korean team defeated Italy, drew Chile, got pounded by USSR in the group stage, advanced and played vs. Portugal and Eusebio. Only Eusebio saved Portugal, Portugal at one point was down in the game 3-0 but won 3-5… there is a movie, “The game of their lives” and that is about the North Korean team of 1966: if North Korea had played and went into a “defensive shell” like so many teams would do if say, we saw England jump to a 3 goal lead vs. Brazil, they might have won but that wasn’t in their playbook. WIth 6 months to prepare and a first game vs. Brazil, I really don’t write off North Korea, they have an oppressive regime, boo to that and they are highly unlikely to pull an upset, but they do have a history.

    I think you are being too dismissive of these teams, Slovakia isn’t bad and dominated their group with Northern Ireland, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. Maybe those don’t sound like world beaters but that is not an easy group.

    With all due respect to these other teams, I myself find it to be a fairly good field, no Togos or Saudi Arabias or Irans. Saudi Arabia and Iran have played some good games here and there, but have largely been ineffective in these World Cups.

  4. Honduras, another country called weak, drew against Spain in 1982 and it is a widely held opinion that Spain received some beneficial officiating, certainly against Yugoslavia and maybe with Honduras. 2 Spanish speaking countries and Spain has problems at times, finishing countries off. I don’t consider that a cinch. And so we do have some history again. Sure I’d expect Spain to win by 3 goals, but we will see.

    Last time, Spain was grouped with Tunisia, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. This time they are in there with Chile who has been on the international stage a few times, does well in the U21 competitions almost always and Honduras and Switzerland, so though for Spain with it’s many stellar players, they should advance, I think it’s a much more competitive group than in ’06; though I’m not looking for them to be upset.

  5. Mate excuse me for posting this, has to do some with the world cup, well this guy, Diego Buonanotte ‎played on the Argentina Olympic team, believe they won gold in Beijing, he got in a real bad car wreck in Latin America, he was driving, they were coming home from a discoteque so it’d make sense, they were probably drinking, though we don’t know. 3 of his friends got killed, the guy rammed a tree… a better article is at Goal, but here’s one at espn. Wow, everyone needs to drive safely, sometimes around this time of year, I don’t even go out at night. Hope that is not a big downer….

  6. Read, per the CBC of Algeria in 1982:

    “Austria and West Germany shamefully conspired with one another in Group B, draping a blanket of controversy over the competition. Algeria, playing in its first World Cup, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition when it earned a 2-1 victory over West Germany in Gijon on June 16. ”

    So come on, let’s not short change these teams.

    • When Algeria beat West Germany they were one of only two teams from Africa, don’t forget. I doubt Algeria or South Africa will do anything this World Cup.

  7. Dont count out a team just because theyre not known in the Soccer World, it doesnt matter if a country is weak or small, they’re team made it to the world cup for a reason, they beat the best to make it there. Argentina tought they could beat Bolivia in the Comonbol Eliminations but look what happened, 6-1. Another example, US made it to the Confederations Cup Semifinal and they beat Spain, which at the time was the best team in the World. This years WC is going to be interesting. They’re are going to be alot of teams moving up in the world rankings, and alot are going to fall.

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