Northern Ireland To Met Eastern Europe In World Cup Qualifiers

There'll be divided loyalties next year when the increasing number of Czech and Polish nationals now living and working in Northern Ireland will have to choose which team to cheer on in the forthcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Fresh from a commendable 1-0 fall to Spain which ruled the local soccer team out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, Northern Ireland can now look ahead to meeting the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia as well as Italy's San Marino in their group for the World Cup.

While these teams are no international soccer giants. its a far-from-easy group with both the Czech Republic and Poland having qualified for Euro 2008.

Slovakia and Slovenia also will not be pushovers although Northern Ireland shouldn't fear either side.

San Marino will be expected to be the whipping boys although they 'almost drew' against the Republic last February.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland team - currently managerless like England - must negotiate a path in Group 8 containing defending champions Italy and Cyprus - to whom they suffered an humiliating 5-2 defeat during their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for Euro 2008.


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