Ronaldo sinks Swedes in World Cup’s final countdown

Cristiano Ronaldo during the friendly match Po...

Cristiano Ronaldo  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Travel agents and football fans in Greece, Croatia, Portugal, France, Algeria and Ghana are celebrating today as their national teams won their World Cup play-offs to secure their place in the tournament in Brazil next year. Meanwhile, a Brazilian friend of mine here in Sydney says there should be plenty of work available in Brazil for translators with knowledge of Portuguese (and English in particular but in other languages too). You’ve just got to go and find it, I suppose. If I find out any more information about such opportunities I will post it here.

The teams that lost out in the play-offs are Romania, Iceland, Sweden, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, and Egypt. Earlier in the week in Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon also qualified at the expense of Senegal, Ethiopia and Egypt, respectively.

The official qualification program is not quite complete: there are the second legs to come of the two intercontinental play-offs to decide the last two of the 32 places available. But since Mexico thrashed New Zealand 5-1 in the first leg and Uruguay won 5-0 in Jordan, the outcome is hardly in doubt.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of the qualifiers played today, the Sweden v Portugal match was the most intriguing. It had been billed as a showdown of the superstars, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, and they certainly lived up to expectations. It was Ronaldo who had scored in the first leg in Lisbon to give Portugal a 1-0 advantage. And today in Solna, Sweden, it was Ronaldo once again who opened the scoring five minutes into the second half to make things really difficult for the home team. But then Ibrahimovic scored twice in the space of four minutes to make it 2-1 to Sweden on the night and 2-2 on aggregate, but Portugal still had the advantage of having scored away goals. Sweden needed two more goals and had 18 minutes left to get them. Well, two goals did come, but they were scored in two devastating minutes (the 77th and 79th) by Ronaldo, who thus completed his hat-trick. Final score: Sweden 2, Portugal 3 (2-4 on aggregate). What a ding-dong battle of a game!

France also did remarkably well, considering they lost the first leg 0-2 in Kiev, to triumph 3-0 in Paris.

Personally, with all respects to Sweden, who have a great and entertaining team, I am delighted that Portugal, Brazil’s mother country, so to speak, will be there to take part in the competition in its biggest former colony. Parabens! But it must be dreadful for the fans of the teams that lost, to have got so near and yet so far. My commiserations to them.

English: Genipabu beach in Natal, Brazil Portu...

English: Genipabu beach in Natal, Brazil. Português: Praia de Genipabu em Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tournament runs from June 12 to July 13 and takes place in 12 cities in Brazil. They are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Manaus, Natal, Recife, Fortaleza, Cuiaba, Curitiba and Porto Alegre. I have been to eight of the 12 and they are great holiday destinations. Natal (pictured above) is possibly my favourite.