Ireland will play 1998 World Cup champion France in the playoffs for entry to the World Cup finals. The two competed in the same qualifying group in 2006, whenThierry Henry scored the only goal in the teams' two games.
Ireland goalkeeper Shea Given criticized FIFA's decision to seed the playoffs, which apparently led to Ireland's tough draw. "The seeding thing is totally unfair. As one of the smaller countries, it is hard enough to qualify at the best of times," Given said. "To change the rules a couple of weeks before the end of the campaign is ridiculous. But that is what they have done. I do think it is very unfair. But we went to Bari and got a result. We also went to Bulgaria. There is great belief that we can go to these big nations and get results."
In other playoff games, Portugal will face Bosnia-Herzegovina, which lost 5-0 to Spain last week. Greece will play Ukraine. And Russia will face Slovenia, who has conceded only four goals in qualifying, a defensive record only bettered by the Netherlands.