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Week 34: The good, the bad and the ugly – 2010 World Cup Qualifying

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Stories from the World Cup qualifying games dominate this week’s good, the bad and the ugly section of languagecaster’s football podcast. Click on the links below to find out more on all of these stories. Explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the page.

Good

It was good for European sides Spain, England and Holland who all maintained their 100% record in the qualification stages and along with Australia and Japan from the Asian section, they all look set to progress to the finals in South Africa in 2010.

Staying with World Cup qualification, it was good for underdogs Northern Ireland who picked up six points after beating group rivals Slovenia and Poland to top the group. With few of their players playing in any of the top leagues and the squad lacking in depth they still have a chance of qualifying for the finals. And in the Asian qualifiers, Saudi Arabia put the cat amongst the pigeons with two victories, away to Iran and at home against UAE. That puts them equal second on ten points with North Korea and a real chance of progressing.

Bad

However, those hard-earned points may well be in danger after FIFA promised to punish Northern Ireland for the trouble at the game against Poland on Saturday. Violence flared up before and after the match with opposing fans, a coin was thrown onto the pitch – hitting the referee’s assistant and there were allegations of death threats made against Poland’s goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, who plays for Celtic.

If Diego Maradona thought that reports from the Italian media stating that he owes 37 million euros to the Italian tax authorities following his seven-year stint at Napoli in the 1980s was bad then he was wrong. Managing Argentina to a 6-1 World Cup qualifying defeat in Bolivia has to be worse. Much worse. The embarrassing defeat came at the Hernando Siles stadium in La Paz, 3,600m above sea level. Maradona will be wishing he hadn’t supported nations like Bolivia in their appeal against FIFA’s previous ban on playing at such altitudes two years ago.

Sad

African World Cup qualifying also continued last weekend and though there were some great surprises (victories for Togo over Cameroon and Gabon against Morocco) in many of the games, they were overshadowed by the fact that more than 20 people died at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan – the capital city of the Ivory Coast. Over 130 people were also injured in the incident which was caused when a wall collapsed after overcrowding in one part of the ground.

Vocabulary

Here are some of the words from the good, the bad and the ugly section from this week’s show. You can download the podcast here

all maintained their 100% record: They have won all their matches so far in the competition

qualification stages: The games played to decide which teams play in the finals

underdogs: a team that is not expected to do well – playing against a favoured team

picked up six points: The team won two matches

to top the group: The team is now leading the table, is ahead of the other sides

put the cat amongst the pigeons: Cause a surprise or trouble, make everyone nervous

the squad lacking in depth: There are not many good players in the squad

FIFA: The World football governing organisation

Violence flared up: The violence started quickly, there was lots of fighting

tax authorities: A government agency that collects tax

seven-year stint: A period of seven years, the time he spent there

Togo over Cameroon: Togo against Cameroon

overshadowed: Completely dominated, cast a shadow over

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