Killen and N’Guemo on course for South Africa


Chris Killen and Landry N’Guemo took major steps towards the South African World Cup finals yesterday whilst Aiden McGeady faces the play-off lottery next month after Ireland’s draw with Italy.

New Zealand drew 0-0 away to Bahrain in the first leg of their play-off leaving Killen’s side requiring a win at home in Wellington on November 14 to qualify for their first World Cup since 1982.
Things look even brighter for N’Guemo even if details of Paul le Guen’s side are thin on the ground after Cameroon beat Togo 3-0 at home, a win away to bottom placed Morocco on Wednesday will see Cameroon qualify for South Africa.
Celtic’s Landry was the only N’Guemo named in the original squad but according to the FIFA website Joel N’Guemo was replaced by in the 69th minute
Led by Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o World Cup regulars Cameroon eased ahead of Togo into top place in Group , who included Emmanuel Adabayor, Cameroon are virtually a Premiership select and will be expected to do well if they get through Wednesday’s final qualifying match.
Information on New Zealand is a bit easier to come across with the FIFA site carrying some details of the goal-less draw in Bahrain.
With his international career on a high hopefully Killen will get a chance now at Celtic to recapture the form that he showed at Hibs where he was more than a match for SPL defenders.
Over in Dublin it was agony for Ireland with a ‘Partizan-type’ moment as Ireland snatched a draw from the jaws of victory against Italy.
McGeady had a varied performance, Italian defences are the hardest to break down but the Celtic midfielder didn’t go into hiding and constantly took the ball to right-back Gianluca Zamborata.
Liam Lawrence on the right provided a steadier defensive influence to the midfield, McGeady’s final ball was at times disappointing but out smarting Italian defenders with the scent of the World Cup finals in the air is no easy task.
In the second half McGeady was given greater scope to attack but again found it difficult to deliver the killer pass before he was replaced by Stephen Hunt in the 78th minute.
Hunt won the 87th minute free-kick that allowed Sean St Ledger to head Ireland into the lead but the Italians equalised in stoppage time through substitute Alberto Gilardino.
Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni must have been devastated by his side’s play after taking the late lead, instead of keeping possession and killing the clock Ireland continued to push forward leaving their defence open to the counter attack which Gilardino ruthlessly punished.
Unlike Celtic’s ko blow in the 5-4 win over Partizan Belgrade 20 years ago Ireland get another chance with a play-off looming against France, Portugal, Greece or Russia.
It’ll be tough to get through that stage especially after sharing four draws with Bulgaria and Italy in their qualifying group but with Trapattoni in charge they have the knowledge and experience to negotiate that obstacle
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