Sunday, 25 November 2007

Azzurri avoid big guns in World Cup 2010 draw

World champions Italy have been drawn with Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia and Montenegro in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Azzurri were one of the nine seeds in the European draw for the qualifying round that was performed this afternoon in Durban, South Africa.

They were assigned to Group 8 and avoided some of the potential big guns, such as England and Scotland, who were not seeded.

Instead their toughest opponents would appear to be Bulgaria and Ireland, neither of them qualified for Euro 2008.

Georgia were also in their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign and were beaten home and away, while Montenegro and Cyprus are not expected to cause too many problems.

There are nine European groups in total with the group winners all qualifying automatically. The best eight runners-up enter the two-legged play-offs for the final four spots.

Although they won the trophy in Germany last year, the Azzurri must still go through the qualifying process.

Only hosts South Africa are guaranteed a place in the finals, leaving all the other countries around the world fighting for the remaining 31 spots.

Qualifying in Europe starts after the UEFA Euro 2008 finals in September 2008.

Full European draw
[Group 1] Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, Malta.
[Group 2] Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Moldova, Latvia, Luxembourg.
[Group 3] Czech Republic, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, San Marino.
[Group 4] Germany, Russia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein.
[Group 5] Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Estonia.
[Group 6] Croatia, England, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra.
[Group 7] France, Romania, Serbia, Lithuania, Austria, Faroe Islands.
[Group 8] Italy, Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, Montenegro.
[Group 9] Netherlands, Scotland, Norway, Macedonia, Iceland.

[Azzurri reaction]

Source: C4 Football Italia / FIFA

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