NETHERLANDS VS NORWAY, Rotterdam, 10/06/09
Now ranked fifth in the all-time UFWC table, and second in FIFA’s world rankings, the Netherlands have a 100-percent record in World Cup 2010 Qualifiers – being the first team to successfully qualify – and are Europe’s form team.
Norway are struggling, bottom of qualifying group 9 and without a win, having drawn 0-0 with Macedonia at the weekend, but they do still have a chance of qualifying for WC 2010. That chance would be all but obliterated if they were to lose to the Dutch on Wednesday in a UFWC/WCQ double-header.
Amazingly, the Norwegians have never held the UFWC title in the competition’s 137-year history, losing all ten of their UFWC title matches. One famous UFWC title match in 1945 saw Norway lose 10-0 to Sweden. Norway’s last UFWC match, in 2002, resulted in a 1-0 defeat – to the Netherlands.
Norway, once again under the management of Egil ‘Drillo’ Olsen, who led the nation to World Cups in 1994 and 1998, are ranked 47th in the world by FIFA, having been an almost permanent fixture in the ranking top ten throughout the 90s.
With the Dutch having already qualified, it will be interesting to see how their team responds. Freed from the pressure of qualification, will they already be distracted by thoughts of summer holidays? Or will the new-found freedom allow them to play even more attacking football?
Should Norway manage to win the UFWC title for the very first time, they will defend the title in a WCQ match against Scotland on 2 August.
If the Netherlands retain the title, they will take it into a friendly match on 12 August against England.
Therefore, whatever happens on Wednesday, the next UFWC match will involve a British challenger.