9 June 2009
With just over a year to go before the kick-off of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and Australia have become the first teams to qualify for the tournament.
Australia qualified after a goalless draw against Qatar in Doha on Saturday in an Asian qualifying match for an unassailable position in Group 1.
2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) CEO Danny Jordaan congratulated Australia for qualifying for Africa’s first World Cup. “After doing extremely well in Germany 2006, the Socceroos have now qualified for back-to-back Fifa World Cups, and we look forward to welcoming them to our country next year,” he said.
Jordaan said Australian sporting teams and fans were familiar visitors to South African shores, as the country had strong sporting links and had hosted regular touring Australian rugby and cricket national and provincial teams.
“We’ve had the Aussies in South Africa for rugby and cricket World Cups before, but to have the Socceroos here next June for the Fifa World Cup will be very special,” he added.
As Australia’s qualification for the World Cup looked more and more certain, Australian fans have been snapping up tickets for next year’s tournament. Australian residents have already successfully applied for 27 139 tickets in the first ticketing sales phase for the tournament.
Jordaan said he was certain that Australia would have even more fans in South Africa than the large numbers which travelled to Germany in 2006.
“There are also a high number of expatriate South Africans living in Australia, many of whom will surely use the opportunity to come home. They will have two teams to follow next year.”
Shaping the atmosphere
Still in the Asian zone, Japan sealed their qualification first by after beating Uzbekistan 1-0 and confirmed their presence at a seventh consecutive World Cup, while South Korea played a goalless draw with Iran.
Meanwhile, in the European zone, the Netherlands were the first to qualify for the 19th edition of world football’s showpiece event after defeating Iceland 2-1 on Saturday.
Jordaan said the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea and Australia were big teams on and off the field, and their qualification would begin to shape the great atmosphere South Africa envisages for the event.
“The Dutch, clearly from a football point of view, have some of the most exciting players in the world,” he said.
“And off the field, Dutch fans dressed in their sea of orange are synonymous with bringing their special energy to any major event in the world. We’re looking forward to welcoming these exciting teams and their supporters.”