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All eight seeds could advance at Germany

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 17:19 IST
Highlight Story

Since FIFA expanded the field to 32 nations before the 1998 World Cup, at least one seeded team has failed to advance to the second round at each tournament.

In 1998, Spain crashed out after three matches. In 2002, Argentina placed third in its group, and only the top two advanced. France finished last in its group and failed to score a goal in three games.

The other 13 seeds in the two tournaments made it to the second round.

This year's tournament could be the first under the new format when all eight seeds advance. Five of the eight already have clinched berths in the second round: Germany, England, Argentina, Brazil, Spain.

France has struggled again, but can still advance. Les Bleus, the seeded team in Group G, have scored one goal in two games, both of them draws. To be assured of advancing, France must beat Togo and have the Switzerland-South Korea match not end in a draw. If the Swiss and Koreans do draw, France can still get advance as long as it scores enough goals while beating Togo.

Mexico, the seeded team in Group D, needs only a draw against Portugal in its last group game to advance. However, the Mexicans have been beset by injuries, and should they lose, they would only fail to advance if Angola beats Iran, and the combined margin of victory in the two games is three or more.

The situation in Group E is the most unsettled. All four teams can still advance, although seed Italy controls its destiny, needing only a draw against the Czech Republic to clinch a berth in the second round.

Before the World Cup draw, FIFA seeds eight teams, including the host nation, to prevent those sides from meeting each other until the second round at the earliest. FIFA uses recent World Cup performances and the world ranking to determine which teams, other than the host, should be seeded. In theory, the seeds (outside of the hosts) represent the best teams in the tournament. Starting in 1962, FIFA has used some form of a seeding system after the completion of qualifying in every World Cup except in 1970. In each of those tournaments, a seeded team went on to win.

GOOD JOB: German soccer legend and World Cup 2006 World Cup organization president Franz Beckenbauer praised the South Korean squad and said it deserved its 1-1 draw with France. South Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung equalized in the 81st minute after the 2002 semifinalist turned the game around after halftime. "I was very happy when we finally got the goal," Korean Football Association President and FIFA Vice President Chung Moon-joon told reporters after the game in Leipzig. Chung watched the game with FIFA President Joseph Blatter and Beckenbauer. And Chung said Beckenbauer turned to him after the result and said: "Your team deserved that."

REUNION: Scenes on the pitch prior to the crucial Group G match between Togo and Switzerland in Dortmund resembled a happy reunion between friends rather than a make-or-break World Cup match. Togo and Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor hugged and joked with Switzerland's Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou, who also play for the Gunners. Geneva native Senderos high-fived Togo's Mohamed Kader, who used to be the top goal scorer for Geneva Servette. Togolese defender Yao Aziawonou _ who plays with Swiss club Young Boys _ posed gleefully happily for photos with his Swiss friends. Even the coaches are friends.

Togo coach Otto Pfister, whose wife is Swiss and who lives in Zurich during breaks from his African travels, has known Swiss trainer Kobi Kuhn for years.

The Swiss won 2-0, putting them atop the group and in position to advance to the next round. Togo was eliminated.

WATCH OUT TIGER: The Trinidad and Tobago federation already has talked to Leo Beenhakker about staying on as coach after the World Cup.

The Dutch-born coach has other plans before he makes his decision.

"Probably after the World Cup I will play golf for three months and make Tiger Woods a little nervous," Beenhakker said. Beenhakker has coached at the highest levels of European club soccer by winning titles with Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam in a career that has taken him to the Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia before going to the Caribbean. He said he would consider opportunities with clubs and national teams for his next job but wanted to keep his focus on the World Cup.

"I ask my players to totally focus on the tournament and I need to do the same," he said.

PITCH INVADER: A young woman interrupted the Australian practice in Oehringen on Monday, running on the field in the middle of a training game to get autographs.

She got three from bemused Socceroos before security whisked her away.

The practice was open to the public and drew several thousand Australian fans and locals.

The woman got one autograph from a player in the game, then decided to up the ante. She ran to the other side of the field and got midfielder Mile Sterjovski, sitting on the ground waiting for his turn in the game, to sign.

She ran back on to the field, where stewards converged on her. But not before backup goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac signed for her. Midfielder Vince Grella said it was "a bit of a shame" that the women was ejected but "you've got to follow the rules."

RARE COMEBACK: Spain rallied from 1-0 deficit to defeat Tunisia 3-1 on Monday night. It marked only the third time in this tournament that a team surrendered the opening goal and came back to win. There have been 128 first-round games played during the last three World Cups, including this year's, with 16 more to be played over the next four days. During that span, only 12 times has a team come back to win after allowing the first goal.

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