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Biggest World Cup omissions
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Serving as manager of a national team is a pretty thankless job, especially if you are leading one of the premier soccer powers in the world.

Every single game is scrutinized relentlessly, every decision is questioned and if you fail to produce the expected results - which are usually unrealistic - you won't have your job for long.

So when a manager selects his 23-man roster for a World Cup he is already bracing for the backlash of leaving a popular player off the team or failing to take an emerging young star because of a lack of experience.

Some managers simply have an overabundance of talent to choose from and will undoubtedly be wrong no matter who they choose.

With that in mind, here is a list of players who belong on their respective rosters. Let the second-guessing begin.

RONALDINHO AND PATO (BRAZIL):

As a player, Brazil manager Dunga was always more substance than style, and it appears that he is applying the same logic to his current squad. Brazil is not as flashy as it once was, but the results have been there. However, by leaving Ronaldinho off the team he is depriving the world of a player who is still capable of producing moments of magic.

He is not quite the same player who captured two consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year awards, but after a solid season at AC Milan the 30-year-old Ronaldinho belongs in the midfield alongside former teammate Kaka.

Without Ronaldinho, Kaka will likely share the middle of the field with Elano, a good player on set pieces who works hard but can't match the pure ability of the man who has owned the number 10 shirt in recent years.

Having played in two World Cups during his career, it is possible that this Brazilian magician has graced the world's stage for the final time as he will be 34 when the tournament is next played in his home country in 2014.

Pato will no doubt find his way into the World Cup team in future years, but the 20-year-old striker is missing out on a valuable experience that can only help him down the line.

He netted 12 goals in 23 games for Milan this past season, and while fellow strikers Luis Fabiano, Robinho and Nilmar are certainly deserving of their place, Pato surely could have taken the spot of 31-year-old Grafite, who has made just a few appearances for Brazil.

JAVIER ZANETTI AND ESTEBAN CAMBIASSO (ARGENTINA):

It is hard to question what Diego Maradona did on the field as Argentina's greatest-ever player, but by leaving this duo off his World Cup team, he has opened himself up for some second-guessing in his manager's role.

Argentina is blessed with an abundance of attacking talent, but their biggest question mark is in defense, where both Zanetti and Cambiasso would have provided a big lift.

Both players were instrumental in helping Inter Milan to a historic treble this past season, and both bring a wealth of experience to a team that is relatively young in certain areas.

Zanetti is Argentina's most-capped player of all time and would have provided stability to a shaky back line, while Cambiasso could have paired with captain Javier Mascherano in midfield to provide cover on an offense- heavy squad.

FRANCESCO TOTTI (ITALY):

After announcing his retirement from the international game in 2007 Totti had a change of heart about a year later and made himself available to manager Marcello Lippi for national team selection.

However, Lippi has remained loyal to the strikers who helped navigate Italy through the qualification process, players like Alberto Gilardino, Antonio Di Natale and Vincenzo Iaquinta.

All three are good players, but none has the experience of Totti, who has played in two World Cups and made 58 appearances for the Azzurri.

He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but after a season that saw him net 14 goals in 23 games for a Roma side that finished second in Serie A, Totti's presence would make a relatively tame Italy attack look a little more threatening.

KARIM BENZEMA (FRANCE):

Following his big-money transfer to Real Madrid from Lyon, Benzema struggled to find regular playing time during a frustrating first season at the Bernabeu.

He started 14 games and made 13 substitute appearances while scoring eight times, but more was expected of one of the hottest young properties in Europe.

France has good options at striker in Nicolas Anelka and the experienced Thierry Henry, but the 22-year-old Benzema could certainly have found his way onto the team ahead of the enigmatic Djibril Cisse.

Cisse has barely been in the national team picture in the past few years, but after a big season in Greece with Panathinaikos, manager Raymond Domenech has decided to bring him back into the fold.

Benzema failed to impress during a disappointing Euro 2008 tournament as a 20- year-old, but instead of taking a player like Cisse who is often injured and inconsistent, Benzema would have been a nice option off the bench while gaining valuable experience.

THEO WALCOTT (ENGLAND):

It is difficult to come down too hard on England manager Fabio Capello for leaving the Arsenal youngster off his team because there are so many good options at Walcott's position.

Joe Cole, Aaron Lennon, James Milner and Shaun Wright-Phillips each have a good case for inclusion, but Walcott would have given Capello a player with blistering pace out wide who has shown an ability to score goals.

Walcott received a surprise call-up to England's 2006 World Cup team as a 17- year-old under former manager Steve McClaren, although injuries and a lack of consistent playing time at Arsenal hurt his chances of making this year's squad.

He scored a stunning hat trick against Croatia in World Cup qualifying, but two subpar performances in recent friendlies appear to have persuaded Capello to pass on the speedy winger.

BENNI McCARTHY (SOUTH AFRICA):

There is no denying the fact that McCarthy is well past his prime, but after all he has done for South Africa over the years he at least deserves to be on the team with the World Cup being played in his native land.

McCarthy saw limited time at West Ham this past season due to injuries and many have questioned his commitment to South Africa, pointing to the fact that he is out of shape.

But despite his poor form this past year, he is South Africa's all-time leading scorer with 32 goals and deserves one last chance in the national team spotlight.

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