The draw for the European Zone 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying play-offs took place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich today. The following pairings have been drawn by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and South Africa star Steven Pienaar.
Republic of Ireland-France
The play-offs will be contested on a two-legged, home-and-away basis on 14 and 18 November.
The team scoring more goals on aggregate wins the play-off. If the scores are level on aggregate, away goals count double. If the teams are level on away goals, or if both matches end goalless, extra-time of two periods of 15 minutes each will be played at the end of the second match. If the score is level after extra time, penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner.
The winners of the four play-offs qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
Michael Owen has accepted that he will get a hostile reception when he returns to Liverpool as a Manchester United player this weekend but insisted that he does not believe he let down his first club by joining their fiercest rivals.
Owen is acutely aware that many supporters at Anfield cannot forgive him for switching allegiances to United, but the striker considers it unfair for him to be accused of disloyalty. To illustrate the point, he said he planned to celebrate as normal if he scored in Sunday's game.
"I'm human," said Owen. "I'd prefer people to sit down and recognise what you did for them and for the team in years gone past but I'm pretty realistic as well. Now that I'm playing for their local rivals – I'm not holding my breath, put it that way.
"People talk about loyalty in football, and for a football supporter it's easy to preach about that. As a father and a brother and a son there's no one more loyal than me. But when you're a player, you're not a fan. I've got to earn a living, provide for my family.
I supported Everton as a kid. I never supported Real Madrid, but I played for them. It's a job opportunity, just like anyone else's work.
"The longer you're at a team, if the fans make you feel welcome and the players take to you, then you build an affinity. So now obviously I look for Real Madrid results and Newcastle results, but it doesn't make me any less loyal to Manchester United." (doesnt look for L'Pool results then?)
Owen is still hopeful that his move to Old Trafford will lead to him going to the World Cup next summer and he pointed to his past international record as justification to be included in Fabio Capello's squad.
"I'm hopeful but the last thing I want is to be campaigning," he said. "Everyone can see how many games I've played, how many goals I've scored, how many World Cups I've been in, my record against strong opponents in big games.
"Everyone can see everything with their own eyes. There are no secrets with me – I've played 89 games, I've scored 40 goals. Everyone knows if I play I'm likely to score every other game. Playing in a World Cup wouldn't bother me. In fact, I'd raise my game, as has happened before in big games. I like big games. For some reason I find an extra certain percentage. Everyone knows these things."
Sir Alex Ferguson, who is likely to be charged with improper conduct by the Football Association tomorrow for his comments about the referee Alan Wiley, may leave Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher behind when the team fly to Russia for Wednesday's Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow to ensure they are fit for Sunday.
The boos on Sunday are going to be so bad