Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Besides there being international friendlies this week (England v. France and Italy v. Spain jump to mind), there's also the matter of 2010 World Cup qualifying.
Ahh yes, the glory of the World Cup ... that's why I'm here, no?
Anyways, we're not talking about the best of the best playing in qualifiers this week.
We're talking about some of the worst teams in world football.
Montserrat meet Surinam in a one-off CONCACAF (North and Central American region)preliminary round encounter Wednesday that will be played in Trinidad & Tobago as neither country has a stadium considered suitable by governing body FIFA.
Running Montserrat's team has become a complicated exercise since a 1995 volcanic eruption which forced more than half the island's people to move abroad.
The eruption buried the capital Plymouth and reduced the population from 12,000 to 4,700.
"Most of our players are over in England as refugees," assistant coach Cecil Lake told FIFA's Web site (www.fifa.com). "We still have a few players left here on the island but most had to leave. We maintain a database though so we know pretty much where everyone is."
The English contingent include two semi-professionals, Junior Mendes of Conference side (fifth division) Aldershot Town and midfielder Wayne Dyer of Northern Premier League (seventh division) Hednesford Town.
As for other games, U.S. Virgin Islands visit Grenada in another one-off tie while Aruba try to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit when they travel to Antigua & Barbuda for their return match.
Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands and Aruba are joint 202nd and last in the FIFA rankings, sharing the dubious honor with American Samoa, Guam and East Timor.
So don't expect much here ...
CONCACAF's lowest ranked teams are involved in the preliminary round while the higher-ranked sides such as U.S., Mexico and Honduras have a bye to the second round in June.
The U.S. will destroy Barbados or Dominica who meet in Bridgetown on Wednesday after drawing their first match 1-1.
St Kitts & Nevis need to overturn a 3-1 deficit at home to Belize to earn the right to lose to Mexico.
Anguilla will attempt to keep the score respectable in Washington against El Salvador, the only one of the teams in action on Wednesday who have played at a World Cup, after losing the first leg 12-0.
The World Cup. You gotta love it ... who said the NCAA Tournament was the place for cinderellas??