Stars sidelined from global showpiece

HAMBURG - Andrei Arshavin, Zlatan Ibrahomovic and Andriy Shevchenko are just three of the world's most prominent footballers who will be missing the World Cup.

HAMBURG - Andrei Arshavin, Zlatan Ibrahomovic and Andriy Shevchenko are just three of the world's most prominent footballers who will be missing the World Cup.

Arshavin, 28, and his Russian teammates dazzled at Euro 2008 for a place in the semifinals, but were caught out cold by Slovenia in a World Cup playoff tie.

"I cannot say that this is the deciding moment in my career - only after years do people usually realise it. But, in any case, to stay out of the World Cup means to be on the sidelines of world football for a time," Arshavin was quoted as saying when elimination loomed after the first game in Moscow. Ibrahimovic will not make the trip to SA after the Sweden team were eliminated as well. The exit prompted Ibrahimovic, 28, one of the world's best-paid footballers, to reconsider his national team future.

Given his age, 32, Ukraine's Shevchenko will most likely never appear on the global stage again as the next World Cup is not until 2014. Also missing from the showpiece are African champs Egypt, who were beaten in a playoff by Algeria.

The history of the World Cup is full of players who have failed to qualify. The best-known are George Best, who starred for Manchester United but failed to lift Northern Ireland to a big event and George Weah, who won just about everything in his club career, but whose fortunes were tied to those of Liberia. - Sapa-DPA

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