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 By Nick Miller

World Cup playoffs: Italy-Sweden top pick, Northern Ireland to spring upset

Alejandro Moreno and Alexis Nunes preview and predict the playoff fixtures of World Cup qualifying.
With the playoff teams set in Europe, the FC crew assess which unseeded side has the best chance of reaching the World Cup.
Martin O'Neill hopes his Ireland players remain injury free over the next few weeks ahead of their playoff versus Denmark.
From Argentina's celebration to Panama's broadcasting jubilation, here's the best of the WCQ final matchday in the Sweeper.

The group phase of World Cup qualification may be over, but there is still space for four more European teams at next summer's finals in Russia.

Tuesday's playoff draw denied us the prospect of Italy facing Republic of Ireland -- who famously defeated the four-time world champions at the 1994 World Cup and also beat the Azzurri to qualify for the knockout phase of Euro 2016 -- and a "derby" that would have pitted Denmark against Nordic neighbours Sweden.

But the four ties -- each to be played over...

Socceroos' World Cup playoff evokes memories of Uruguay miracle

Australia and Syria will go head-to-head in the first round of a series of playoffs on the road to next year's World Cup.

The opening leg on neutral soil in Malacca, Malaysia, on Thursday will be followed by the second leg in Sydney on Oct. 10.

SyriaSyria
AustraliaAustralia
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The winners will face the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF zone in another two-legged playoff for a place at Russia 2018.

Here are five memorable playoffs from around the region:

North Korea v Australia, Phnom Penh, 1965

It was the days before the World...

Colorado Rapids' Kevin Doyle retires due to multiple concussions

Yordy Reyna's third goal in four matches stood up as the match winner for Vancouver at home against Colorado.

Colorado Rapids forward Kevin Doyle says he is retiring from professional football because of repeated concussions.

Doyle is from Ireland and has played 16 years both in Europe and in Major League Soccer. He released a statement via social media on Thursday.

"This year it has been clear to me that heading the ball was becoming problematic and causing me to have repeated headaches," Doyle wrote. "Two concussions this season and numerous other over the years have made this more concerning."

Doyle...

 By Chris Wright

Nun and Irish policeman play keepy-uppy on streets of Limerick

It's not a scene you tend to stumble across every day, but an Irish policeman has been filmed pitting his keepy-uppie skills against a nun on the streets of Limerick.

Indeed, community officer Garda O'Connell and the Dominican sister are seen trading flicks and tricks as the crowd roar them on.

"We're not sure who won this time," the Garda Síochána (the Irish police force) quipped on their official Facebook page.

"A rematch will have to be scheduled."

We have to respectfully disagree,...