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No joy ride for Soca Warriors

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The 32 teams qualified for football’s showpiece in Germany 2006 will know their opponents for the first round of matches December 9. That’s when the draw takes place in Messe Leipzig, Germany.

Four teams will be in each of the eight groups, making next year’s event the largest of the World Cup finals.

The contest holds special interest for the Caribbean region as it is the fourth time it will be represented at that major happening. Trinidad and Tobago, currently ranked 51st on FIFA’s ratings, will be the flag bearer for the region as the two-island Republic seeks to make a sporting statement on behalf of over five million people.{{more}}

The Soca Warriors will be trying, in the first instance, to get past the group stage as they pit their skills among football’s elite.

And, the authorities are ensuring that the trip to Europe next year will be one for competition and not only participation.

Coach Leo Beenhakker has opened the doors to all persons eligible to play for the Caribbean side, to get the most formidable squad available.

Other first timers are Angola, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo, all African states, exemplifying the emergence of new talents away from the traditional European and South American regions.

Another team making its debut is Ukraine.

Like the African zone, CONCACAF has its largest representation next year.

Trinidad and Tobago joins regular qualifiers in Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States of America from CONCACAF. Others making their way to Germany are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland and Portugal. Completing the list are Saudi Arabia, Serbia Montenegro, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Tunisia.

The Cup finals take place June 9 to July 9.

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