The ties for the final four 2010 World Cup spots are set as Europe’s four Play-Offs were drawn on Monday. Bosnia-Herzegovina battle Portugal in perhaps the most fascinating match-up while former World Cup champions France take on Ireland, 2004 European champions Greece play Ukraine and Russia will tackle Slovenia.
The top four nations in the draw were seeded according to the latest edition of the FIFA World Rankings from October 16. France (ranked number 9), Portugal (10), Russia (12) and Greece (16) were placed in Pot 1 and were drawn to face off against one of the teams from Pot 2: Ukraine (22), Republic of Ireland (34), Bosnia Herzegovina (42) and Slovenia (49).
Format of Play-Offs
The team scoring more goals on aggregate will win the Play-Off. If the scores are even on aggregate, away goals count double. If the teams are level on away goals, or if both matches end goalless, two extra-time periods of 15 minutes each will be played at the end of the second match. If the score is still tied after extra time, penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner. The winners of the four Play-Offs will book the final four spots for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The first legs will be played on November 14, 2009 with the second legs taking place on November 18, 2009.
Republic Of Ireland V France
Ireland will have to go through 1998 World Cup champions France if they want to reach the 2010 World Cup – their first finals since 2002. Ireland finished second in the Group 8 behind defending World Cup champions Italy. The 2006 runners up France took second place in Group 7 behind Serbia and are looking to make their fourth straight World Cup.
Portugal V Bosnia-Herzegovina
Portugal needed to win their final three qualifiers to pass Sweden in Group 1 to reach the Play-Offs. Now the star-studded squad with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco must get by high scoring Bosnia-Herzegovina, who finished second behind reigning European champions Spain in Group 5. The likes of Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic helped the Bosnians to bounce both Turkey and Belgium in hopes of reaching their first ever World Cup.
Greece V Ukraine
The 2004 European champions Greece took second place in Group 2 and next take on the 2012 Euro co-hosts Ukraine, who bounced Croatia by finishing second in Group 6.
Russia V Slovenia
The 2008 Euro semi-finalists Russia could not get past Germany in placing second in Group 4 and will next take on Slovenia, who reached the Play-Offs from Group 3 ahead of Czech Republic and 2012 Euro co-hosts Poland.