England are on the verge of qualifying for South Africa in 2010, but tonight's home game against minnows Andorra was at risk of being played behind closed doors due to a 48-hour tube workers strike in London.
England aiming to strike Andorra out
England are on the verge of qualifying for South Africa in 2010, but tonight's home game against minnows Andorra was at risk of being played behind closed doors due to a 48-hour tube workers strike in London. The strike will have a massive impact on travel, with England's Group Six qualifier at Wembley among the worst hit. Wembley has always encouraged fans to travel on the tube network, but the English Football Association has refused to alter their plans in the face of what is certain to be major disruptions if the strike goes ahead.
"The game will kick off at 8.15 (BST time) as planned tomorrow," FA chief executive Ian Watmore confirmed. "It will not, repeat not, be played behind closed doors." Victory, as expected for Fabio Capello's men would leave England needing just three points from their remaining three games to qualify for the World Cup finals in South Africa Sweden, though, must beat Malta tonight to maintain their slim hope of reaching South Africa after losing to group leaders Denmark on Saturday.
The Swedes are in fourth spot in Group One and on the verge of being eliminated so anything but a victory against Malta would be disastrous for coach Lars Lagerback's team. They have qualified for the last two World Cups and have not missed a major tournament since 1998. Lagerback has called up Swedish league top scorer Tobias Hysen of IFK Goteborg after veteran striker Henrik Larsson left the squad following the death of a his brother .
Hysen - the son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen - is likely to start on the bench with Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the attack. Malta should be easy pickings but Lagerback said: "We will have full respect and not underestimate them. We have to play 90 minutes with full concentration." In South America, Brazil coach Dunga expects the home match against Paraguay to be the most difficult of the World Cup qualifying campaign. The pair have collected 24 points apiece from their first 13 games to lead the way in the South American qualifying zone. Last weekend, the Selecao hammered Uruguay 4-0 in Montevideo while Paraguay lost 2-0 to Chile in Asuncion.
But Dunga said: "Paraguay lost to Chile at home and we won away. It means nothing. It will be a formidable game, no question about that. The Paraguay midfielder Edgar Benitez said: "The defeat to Chile was painful. The group is as one in both good and ugly moments. We know we are playing a tough match, but we can make history in Brazil." * With agencies