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World Cup Notebook Big Jack gives nod to Argies

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Big Jack Charlton wouldn’t trade shoes with Mick McCarthy as the current Irish boss prepares to lead the Republic to the Far East for the World Cup finals.

“I don’t envy Mick going out there one little bit. It is too far away and I am actually glad that I am not the manager now,” Charlton, who handed over the hot seat to his former protTgT in 1995, said in a website interview last weekend.

A World Cup winner with England in 1966, Charlton picked Argentina as his favorites for the championship but hinted at a respectable Roy Keane-inspired Irish showing.

“Any team that wins the World Cup normally has the best central midfielder in the tournament in their team. And there’s not a country who wouldn’t like Roy Keane in their side or a team that won’t be afraid of him,” he observed.

The architect of Ireland’s rise to international prominence, Charlton led the Republic to one European Championship tournament and two World Cup finals during his nine-year tenure that began in 1986.

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In both World Cup outings, Ireland went beyond the first round. They reached the last eight on their debut at Italia ’90, and advanced to the Round of 16 in the United States four years later.

Keano snubbed

Jack Charlton may rate Roy Keane’s talents highly, but Ireland’s Captain Courageous does not appear on the London bookies Will Hill’s list of betting favorites for Best Player Award at the conclusion of Japan/Korea ’02.

English boy wonder Michael Owen is the odds on favorite to scoop the crown, followed by Christian Vieri (Italy), Thierry Henry (France), Hernan Crespo (Argentina), David Trezuguet (France), Rivaldo (Brazil), Raul (Spain), Claudio Lopez (Argentina), Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina) and Fernando Morientes (Spain), in that order.

Dry cup

In what would be a first for the World Cup finals if FIFA accede, the Japanese and Korean organizers are planning a booze-free tournament this summer.

“2002 World Cup without alcohol” is the organizers’ slogan. Plans are afoot to establish “social controlling points” near the entrances of stadiums, where the blood alcohol levels of fans will be checked.

Fans whose levels exceed permitted levels will be deprived of their tickets and subject to the same legal punishment as drunken drivers.

“It is obvious that most of those who infringe the law during the matches are not sober,” a spokesman for the organizers said. “Strict measures will be applied towards the fans who will try to enter the stadium in such a state.”

The entire plan, however, is subject to FIFA approval.

Lions surge

Cameroon have broken into the top 20 in the latest FIFA rankings on the back of their recent African Nations Cup triumph. The “Indomitable Lions” have moved up 19 places into 18th position, one ahead of Group E rivals Ireland (19th), who’ve dropped two rungs since January.

The other Group E members, Germany and Saudi Arabia, are ranked 12th and 34th, respectively.

Team USA (13th, up 11) are the other big movers in their aftermath of their CONCACAF Gold Cup win.

At the top, France remain the world’s best ranked team. Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Colombia, Italy, Spain, Holland, Mexico and England round off the top 10.

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