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By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Bosnia And Herzegovina
For about an hour, much of the planet will come to a dead stop, all eyes and attention glued to four bowls of what look an awful lot like pingpong balls. A lottery that could make someone rich beyond his or her wildest dreams? No, though some would argue this can bring even more happiness.
One of the worst finals in World Cup history _ Spain vs. the Netherlands _ will be reprised in one of the first games of the 2014 edition.
Defending champion Spain will play its opening 2014 World Cup game against the Netherlands, a repeat of the ill-tempered 2010 final, while host Brazil faces a relatively easy path to the knockout stage after Friday's draw.
For about an hour Friday, much of the planet will come to a dead stop, all eyes and attention glued to four bowls of what look an awful lot like pingpong balls. A lottery that could make someone rich beyond his or her wildest dreams? No, though some would argue this can bring even more happiness.
The 31 countries that qualified for the 2014 World Cup and host nation Brazil will cross fingers and toes and hope for the luck of the draw on Friday when their names are plucked from bowls one by one in a globally televised extravaganza to determine where, when and, most importantly, who they will play in Brazil next June at football's showcase tournament.
Thirty-two teams, a world of possibilities.
Even though it comes around comet-like just once every four years, or perhaps precisely because of that, the World Cup's grip on the planet's imagination remains impressive. French fans' delirious chants of "We're going to Brazil!" after their team dug deep to defeat Ukraine in the playoffs and Cristiano Ronaldo's joy at his hat trick that qualified Portugal showed how much this most global of sports tournaments means to nations and people alike.
Lionel Messi probably won't play soccer again until 2014.
Greece and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal finished second in their groups, winding up in next months' eight-team European playoffs that will determine four more berths.
Nine countries have already joined host nation Brazil in next year's World Cup and more will secure their places when qualifying resumes across the globe from Friday.
Altidore has scored in five straight games, a first for a U.S. player, and also had an assist on Eddie Johnson's goal. It was the first time the U.S. has come back to win a game in Europe.
Former Iceland international Aron Johannsson is among 23 players called up for the U.S. soccer team's training camp in Sarajevo ahead of its exhibition against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
While not directly addressing Bill Clinton's criticism of the Obama administration's Syria policy, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the 42nd president has offered "valid" opinions on the deteriorating situation in the Middle Eastern country.
They turned soccer stadiums into battlegrounds and then fought real wars.