Created on 21-10-2013 at 14:10 PM
Franck Ribéry and Mario Mandzukic have been handed awkward but manageable tasks in their bid to claim places at the 2014 World Cup finals at the second attempt. In the play-offs to determine Europe’s final four contenders in Brazil, the French and their European Footballer of the Year will meet Ukraine and former Bayern midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, while FCB striker Mandzukic and Croatia face underdogs Iceland. The draw for the play-offs was made on Monday afternoon at Home of FIFA in Zurich. The French and the Croats were both drawn to play the first leg away and the return at home. The eight best runners-up in the recently concluded nine-group qualifying contest are vying to become Europe’s last four representatives at the World Cup, with the two-legged play-offs scheduled for 15 and 19 November. In the other two ties, Portugal face Sweden and Greece take on Romania.
Solo training for Ribéry
A propos Ribéry: Monday was officially a day off for the FCB squad, but the France star is recovering from a minor injury and reported to the Säbener Strasse facility for a solo workout. Supervised by rehab coach Thomas Wilhelmi and fitness specialist Lorenzo Buenaventura, the UEFA Best Player in Europe worked on short sprints and pace from a standing start, including an exercise using elastic tension ropes. Ribéry turned an ankle in training last Friday and sat out the weekend meeting with Mainz. He remains doubtful for Wednesday’s Champions League fixture at home to Viktoria Plzen.
Kelly to take charge
Irish referee Alan Kelly has been appointed match official for the midweek clash against the Czech champions. It will be the 38-year-old’s first game involving Bayern, but seems likely to be one of his last outings in Europe’s elite club competition. According to Irish media reports, Kelly is poised to move to the USA to take up a senior full-time position in Major League Soccer.