2010 World Cup Qualifying Rounds
After the most recent round of World Cup qualifying matches, 23 teams have now confirmed their places at next year’s festival of football in South Africa.
As things stand, nine places still remain up for grabs before the draw is made in Cape Town on December 4.
In Europe, nine teams have confirmed their places in South Africa and they will be joined by a further four after the two-legged playoffs scheduled for the November 14 and 18 are completed.
The nine teams in the pot for the eagerly anticipated draw are as follows: Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.
The four remaining qualifiers will come from the matches between the Republic of Ireland and France; Portugal and Bosnia-Herzegovina; Greece and the Ukraine; and Russia and Slovenia.
In the South American qualifying region, things were looking precarious for Diego Maradona’s Argentina as they headed into the final round of qualifers. Two narrow wins over Peru and Uruguay, however, sealed their place, joining Brazil Paraguay and Chile.
Fifth-placed Uruguay will now face Costa Rica from the Central and North America qualifying region for one of the remaining nine places in South Africa.
Should Costa Rica overcome their South American opponents, they will join the USA, Mexico and Honduras from the region in 2010.
The Mexican national team will be appearing in it’s 14th finals after recovering from a poor start under former boss Sven Goran Eriksson. In contrast, Honduras will be competing in only their second finals and qualified despite the turmoil surroundinng the country following a military coup in June.
The four Asian teams, Japan, Australia, South Korea and North Korea, were among the first to qualify for the 2010 finals.
For North Korea, qualification represents some achievement. The last time they participated in the finals was in 1966 when they famously eliminated Italy before storming into a 3-0 lead against Portugal, only to lose 5-3.
After finishing third in their group behind Australia and Japan, Bahrain defeated Saudi Arabia on away goals after the two-legged playoff finished 2-2 on aggregate.
Standing between them and a place in South Africa are New Zealand, who have stolen the advantage following a goalless draw in Bahrain. The return leg will be played in New Zealand on November 14, handing them home advantage.
In Africa, host nation South Africa have been joined by the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the African side many people believe best equipped to win the tournament.
With just one round of matches remaining, Cameroon, Tunisia and Algeria are all in pole position in groups A, B and C respectively, but will be pushed all the way by Gabon, Nigeria and Egypt, all of whom are within touching distance of their group leaders.