Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, France Qualify for World Cup

Harry Engels

Several more Newcastle United players are headed to Brazil this summer.

Newcastle United supporters will have plenty of chances to watch their favorite club players in this summer's World Cup, thanks to qualifications this week by Nigeria (Shola Ameobi), Cote D'Ivoire (Cheik Tiote, although not in the last round of call-ups), and France (Loic Remy, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, and sometimes Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa).

The three nations join four others who occasionally harbor Newcastle players that have already qualified: Italy (Davide Santon, very occasionally), Argentina (Fabricio Coloccini), Netherlands (Tim Krul), and England (Steven Taylor, though he wasn't capped). Not all players are expected to be named to their respective squads - a lot will depend on injury and form - but there is a very real possibility of plenty of Toon action in Brazil this summer.

The inclusion of the French squad is notable not only for the sheer number of NUFC players that could potentially be selected, but also because it has been widely assumed that Yohan Cabaye's motivation for staying on Tyneside is directly linked to his desire to see playing time (i.e. not riding Arsenal's bench), thus keeping him in the forefront of Didier Deschamps' mind. Presumably, their last-minute qualification will be enough to keep him from leaving for greener pastures in January.

On the flip side, Shola Ameobi has publicly stated his own wishes for more time on the pitch, and now that Nigeria have qualified, he will absolutely need to turn Stephen Keshi's head with his play in order to feature in June and July. Shola is not nearly as essential to the club as Yohan Cabaye is, but given Joe Kinnear's failure to buy players this August, any departure will almost certainly have to be supplemented with a complementary purchase.

At any rate, the buildup to the World Cup is always fascinating to watch, as international players try to impress their respective gaffers. While in theory professional footballers shouldn't need any extra motivation to be at their best, the reality is that the game's biggest event casts a long shadow that pushes certain players to play beyond themselves. These qualifications are big news because several of Newcastle's players have even more to play for, and that kind of energy can have a positive effect.

At any rate, having players that you can root for outside of your own national team is infinitely more fun than the alternative, and for that, I'm thankful that all of these teams have made it. The draw for the group stages will be held on 6 December.

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