Holiday wishes, soccer style

GARETH WHEELER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

'Tis the season for holiday cheer. 'Tis the season for busy malls and festive music.

And for newspapers and magazines, 'tis the season for cheesy, holiday-themed columns.

Who am I to stray away from a winning formula? I asked Canadian soccer-types and media members to share their soccer-related holiday wishes. What do they want to see happen in the soccer world?

Here's a collection of their pie-in-the-sky, quasi-realistic and/or extremely delusional wishes for St. Nick.

- Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto FC: For Canada to play a top 10 ranked team in Toronto, Brazil to win another WC, Barcelona to win Champions League, Arsenal to win the Premiership, and TFC to make the playoffs. That's not too much to ask, is it?

- Steven Sandor, Sun Media: Get rid of the cash-grabbing, trivial group stages of the Champions League and go back to a European Champions Cup (a true knockout tournament). And only invite the league champs and the holders of the trophy. And to have some previously unheralded team from Eastern Europe to make some miraculous run to the final. Let's face it -- G14 gets kind of stale after awhile, doesn't it?

- Peter Montopoli, general secretary, Canadian Soccer Association: Securing the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 bid for Canada.

- Hector Vergara, Canadian referee and executive director, Manitoba Soccer Association: To officiate in my third World Cup by officiating at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

- Kristian Jack, The Footy Show (The Score): To see Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov lead his teammates up the steps at Wembley to lift a trophy. And it would be nice to see England actually win a penalty shootout at the World Cup.

- Mo Johnston, director of soccer (Toronto FC): For Messi be under my tree -- he's sure small enough but a wonderful player.

- Doug Farraway, program director (Fan 590): To be driving on James Street North in Hamilton come July 11th, waving an English flag.

- Dick Howard, World Cup analyst and journalist: The great Pele has stated that one day a team from Africa will win the World Cup. My wish is that this will happen in 2010 when the world comes to the African continent, for the first and probably only time, to contest the greatest prize in sports.

- Lee Godfrey, GOL TV: I wish for a striker for Toronto FC and Rafa Benitez to be out at Liverpool, replaced by Guus Hiddink.

- Brendan Dunlop, Hardcore Footy Show: I want nothing more than to see Aston Villa finish in the top four in the Premiership. Manager Martin O'Neill has earned it.

- James Sharman, The Footy Show (The Score): I wish for a trillionaire Middle-Eastern investor to rid Liverpool of the two clowns who currently own the club.

- Morgan Quarry, men's national team manager, Canadian Soccer Association: The Canadian men's team having a game on every FIFA date would be nice!

- Bryan Mudryk, anchor (TSN): For you (Wheeler) to acknowledge how good Michael Ballack is. Or Andriy Shevchenko to play for Toronto FC. Neither is going to happen.

- Alex Seixeiro, Fan 590: My wish is for Pepe of Real Madrid to recover from knee surgery in time for the World Cup. Portugal needs him.

- Matthew Scianitti, Soccer 360 magazine: Jimmy Conrad to Toronto FC. The 32-year-old is possibly one of the finest central defenders to ever play in Major League Soccer. His strength and size make him formidable, but it's his intelligence that makes him nearly unassailable.

- Craig Forrest, Rogers Sportsnet: I wish for video replay to be installed by FIFA. I don't think even Santa can make that come true.

As for my wish, nothing would make me happier than to see a safe and secure World Cup tournament in South Africa, where England is crowned world champion a second time.

GARETH.WHEELER@SUNTV.CANOE.CA


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