England face World Cup ‘qualifier’ with Italy

[img_assist|nid=8326|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=94|height=100]LONDON, June 26 – England play 17th-ranked Italy tomorrow in the Investec World League Semi-Final at Chiswick, with the winner almost certain to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with the Spain set up what is, on paper, the easiest quarter-final opponent possible for England.

But the surprise result also condemned South Africa to a daunting game against world champions Argentina. 

Three teams from the London tournament are guaranteed a World Cup place. But with several countries set to ‘double qualify’ through winning their continental championships as well as a place via the League, a quarter-final victory tomorrow will all but nail down a ticket to the Hague next year.

In the event of a continental champion having already qualified from the League, extra teams will earn places based on their finishes in the semi-final tournaments. World rankings will decide any ‘ties’.

Hosts the Netherlands have already secured a place through the League, so one extra place is already up for grabs. England’s world ranking of four means they will almost certainly claim that spot with a win on Thursday.

Italy would also be incredibly unlucky to not be in the Netherlands next year, should they win.

England play Italy at 8pm; Argentina play South Africa at 12.30pm; Australia play USA at 3pm and China play Spain at 5.30pm.