by Thomas Rooney
Love it or hate it, international football is back. The qualification process for the 2010 World Cup begins tomorrow and all of the home nations are in action as they look to start in the best way possible – three points.
Like a lot of people, I have fallen out of love with international football somewhat. All it seems to do is injure our club players and provide us with a fairly dull weekend of sporting activity. I mean, can you remember the last time you were blown away by an England game?
World Cup qualification is slightly different I suppose. Everyone wants England to be there because it is one of the most famous sporting occasions there is and I’m sure most people will agree that even though misery normally comes from it – we all want England there.
The early stages of qualification seem to take a friendly style approach though. The summer of 2010 is such a long way off, many people can’t relate to a game being played tomorrow as having any effect on it. So, to make everything a bit more interesting this weekend, why not indulge in some online football betting?
Below I have previewed the games involving England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, giving advice as to who I expect to win and by what margin. Feel free to take my opinions of board and start putting your money where your mouth is!
Andorra v England
Normally when a new manager arrives at a club or country, they have a honeymoon period. Fabio Capello has had nothing of the sort at England. Hopefully the good times can begin now that the competitive action is underway.
Last time England played Andorra they emerged victorious comfortably but were heavily criticised for their performance after being held to 0-0 until half time. So, its performance and result required for Capello’s men tomorrow night. Otherwise, it’s another evening of moaning England fans clogging up Radio phone-ins.
England are heavy favourites and they should win with relative ease. I expect a 4-0 win. Wayne Rooney will be the main man for England. He is overdue a performance for his country and I think this is the night he will shine.
Prediction: Andorra 0-4 England
FYR Macedonia v Scotland
This is a tough test for Scotland. Temperatures are expected to be around 36 degrees when they take to the field against Macedonia. A contrast to the normally scenario of rain and blustery winds north of the border!
Scotland are favourites for the game – they sit 40 places above Macedonia in the Fifa rankings – and will be hoping the likes of Kenny Miller can help them secure a valuable three points.
I think it is going to be difficult though. The heat will suit Macedonia a lot more and with the amount of Scotland players that have withdrawn from the squad, I actually think a draw would be a good result for Walter Smith.
Prediction: Macedonia 1-1 Scotland
Wales v Azerbajan
Despite Wales underachieving a great deal in recent years, this is a game they shouldn’t have any problems with. The start of a new qualification process gives them the chance to wipe the slate clean and they will be looking to young stars such as Chris Gunter, Gareth Bale, Ched Evans and Aaron Ramsey to fire them towards the 2010 World Cup.
As for tomorrow’s game, I think you would be wise to check the football odds on an emphatic victory for Wales. They have some good young players and they should they get an early goal, it will be too much for a weak Azerbajan side.
Prediction: Wales 5-1 Azerbajan
Slovakia v Northern Ireland
Like Scotland, Northern Ireland – who are led by former Norwich boss Nigel Worthington – will have to cope with excessive heat in their opening group game in Bratislava.
They will be relying heavily on David Healy to score their goals in the absence of Kyle Lafferty and this could create them problems in my view. Healy has only played one league game so far this season and even though he has delivered in the past for his country – he can’t always turn it on when needed.
That’s why I expect them to struggle in front of goal tomorrow night. A 0-0 draw would be a good result, but unfortunately I can’t see them keeping a clean sheet either.
Prediction: Slovakia 1 -0 Northern Ireland
Georgia v Republic of Ireland
Giovanni Trapattoni begins his quest to qualify for the 2010 World Cup with what I consider a very talented team tomorrow night when Republic of Ireland take on Georgia.
A particular scenario in this game forms my Friday Football Betting Tip. I think Ireland will show their potential in a classy 3-1 victory with Kevin Doyle setting them on their way with the first goal. The Reading striker scored a hat-trick recently against Crystal Palace and I think he will continue this good form for his country.
Looking at Ireland’s team, it is full of match winners in my opinion. Doyle is joined by the likes of Robbie Keane, Stephen Hunt and Aiden McGeady – all very good players.
Prediction: Georgia 1-3 Republic of Ireland
So there you have it. I expect three wins, a draw and a defeat for the five home nations. It will be interesting to see how accurate I am come Monday! Make sure you back your own opinion this weekend and make the international football break as entertaining as possible.