Ireland meet France in World Cup play-off

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The Independent Online

France must overcome a tough play-off against the Republic of Ireland if they are to reach the World Cup in South Africa next year.

The 1998 world champions will have home advantage in the second leg after being paired with Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish side in today's draw.

In the other play-offs, Portugal will play Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece will face Ukraine and Russia take on Slovenia.

Trapattoni had criticised FIFA for seeding the play-offs - Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine and Slovenia were all unseeded meaning they could not play each other.

France, beaten finalists in the last World Cup, were viewed as the team to avoid along with Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Irish, who last played in the finals in 2002, had hoped for an easier fixture against Greece but in the draw in Zurich, Everton's South African midfielder Francois Pienaar drew them first out of the hat against the French.

Trapattoni at least can feel relieved that the Republic do not have to play Russia on the artificial pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

The draw for the World Cup European qualifying play-offs, to be played over two legs on November 14 and 18, is as follows:

Republic of Ireland v France

Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Greece v Ukraine

Russia v Slovenia

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