Posted by Kelly Fincham at 9/10/2009 10:21 AM EDT

Ireland has almost certainly been ruled out of automatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.

Italy are now four points clear in Group 8 after they demolished Bulgaria Wednesday night in the home leg in Turin.

Ireland will now have to beat Italy at home next month (unlikely on last night's evidence) and hope for an improbable series of events which includes seeing Italy fall apart against Cyprus.

Ironic though when you think of it; we're now depending on an Italian (manager Trappatoni) to deliver us from the Italians.

And this is the same man who thought Italy was heading the way of the Roman Empire.

"It's like when there's 200,000 kilometres and the car is no longer vroom vroom," he said before the match.

Then he sat back and watched as the Italians put on their go-faster stripes and ran over the Bulgarians.

Anyway, the Italian victory brings us back to those miserable days of qualification by maths.

Ireland will probably be looking at a play-off against (gulp) France, Croatia, Sweden, Portugal or Russia.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that we could wind up with Norway, Greece, Slovenia, Latvia or even Northern Ireland.

However, given Ireland's propensity to snatch defeat from the jawas of victory, I won't be booking my South African Airways flight just yet.

Instead, I shall adopt my country's national character and hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Or, given how well England are playing, I might renew my British citizenship and start cheering for England!