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No easy games in international football 06/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Alan Green will feel that his latest cause celebre, the need for a pre-qualifying round to eliminate some of the minnows from international qualification, carries some more weight tonight after Germany’s 13-0 win over San Marino.  In championing this possibility over the weekend he cited the Champions’ League (sic) structure as a good template, eliminating as it does anyone with anything close to a spartan pressbox before Alan and co get interested.

Were a pre-qualifying round based on merit introduced, of course, it would be difficult to exclude Northern Ireland from such an exercise based on their international record pre-Sanchez.  But then they beat England, and then Spain in a phenomenal and hugely entertaining result in Belfast.  Green’s proposal, of course, would ensure that, as in the Champions’ League, the status quo is preserved… Northern Ireland would have had less chance of getting as far as that result against England, therefore less chance of moving up the rankings.  The same goes for Liechtenstein’s draw with Portugal in the last campaign.

What is likely, of course, was that Green intended that annoyingly remote places that he’s bored of travelling to be excluded from the itinerary.  Indeed, he mentioned the Baltic states as candidates for pre-qualifying, ignoring Latvia’s qualification and respectable showing in Euro 2004.  But then anyone regarding the Champions’ League (sic) as a template is never going to be too fussed about details like merit…


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