Ireland hope for Greeks bearing gifts
Fifa has updated its National Team Rankings this morning (Uefa should update at some time today, but is currently showing slightly different rankings) and Ireland has moved up the rankings to 20th - but not enough to avoid the big guns in the World Cup play-offs. Looking at the seeded teams, Greece looks the weakest and will be the preferred draw for all of the non-seeded teams. The possible exception being Ukraine which might quite like a pop at Russia.
Giovanni Trapattoni has made some bullish comments about beating any of the seeded teams; but as France and Portugal have improved so much in qualification he must be hoping to avoid them and pick up the far more beatable Russians or even the plum draw of Greece. The Irish must hope that the authorities bring them a Greek gift.
Uefa National Team Rankings (WC 2010 Play-off teams)
Uefa National Team Rankings
11 Czech Republic
18 Northern Ireland
20 Republic of Ireland
(bold qualified, italics play-offs)
Rankings are determined by results in the last three major tournaments, with more recent results weighted more highly. WC2006 20%, Uefa2008 40%, WC2010 40%.