19 November 2009
The final field of 32 teams for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ in South Africa was decided on Wednesday evening when five playoff ties were decided – one in Africa, three in Europe and one in South America.
The Final Draw to decide who plays who in the World Cup group matches takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 4 December, exactly six months before the tournament kicks off.
The television broadcast of the Final Draw is expected to reach more than 700-million football fans around the globe.
Algeria vs Egypt
Wednesday’s African playoff became necessary after Egypt and Algeria finished level on points in African Group C, after the Pharaohs beat Algeria 2-0 in the final group game.
The playoff took place at a neutral venue, the Al-Merreikh Stadium in Omdurman, Sudan, with plenty of emotion to back up the high stakes after the previous encounter in Cairo, which had been marred by violence. Four Algerian players had been injured after stone-throwing Egyptian supporters attacked their bus. Egypt’s Interior Ministry reported that 32 people – 20 Algerians and 12 Egyptians – had been injured.
In Omdurman, Antar Yahia decided the playoff tie with a 40th minute goal, when he blasted a deep cross by Karim Ziani into the back of the Egyptian net from close range.
The victory secured a third World Cup finals berth for Algeria. Previously, the Fennecs qualified for the 1982 and 1986 finals.
France vs Ireland
It took a controversial goal in extra time to settle the tie between France and Ireland and earn the French a place in South Africa next year.
Down by a goal after the first leg, Ireland levelled the aggregate score after 33 minutes when Robbie Keane netted at the Stade de France after being set up by Damien Duff.
In the 73rd minute, the Tottenham striker had a golden opportunity to put his side ahead when he was put clean through, with only goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to beat. But, instead of shooting, he tried to take the ball around Lloris and ended up taking the ball out of play.
French desperation was clear when Nicholas Anelka tried to win a penalty with a dive. It didn’t come off, but Thierry Henry, in extra time, succeeded in fooling the referee to give France the valuable win.
Thirteen minutes into the extra period, Florent Malouda found Henry from a free kick. The striker twice used his hand to control the ball – he admitted as much after the contest – before passing to William Gallas, who headed home.
Ukraine vs Greece
Greece kept Ukraine out of the finals, despite playing away from home.
After playing to a goalless draw in Athens, the Greeks claimed a 1-0 win in Donetsk, thanks to a 31st minute goal by Dimitris Salpigidis.
The 2004 European champions, under coach Otto Rehhagel, will be contesting the finals for only the second time. Their first qualification was in the 1994 tournament in the USA when they lost all three of their pool games.
Rehhagel took charge of Greece in 2001 and it has been a very successful relationship. Not only has he twice led them to the European Championships finals, including the title, but now they’re going to the World Cup again.
Slovenia vs Russia
Russia had looked well on their way to South Africa when they took a 2-0 lead over Slovenia in the first leg of their playoff in Moscow. The Slovenians, however, netted a late away goal to ensure a tight battle in the second leg and that late goal came back to haunt Guus Hiddink’s charges.
On Wednesday evening, at Stadion Ljudski Vrt in Maribor, Slovenia ended the Russian dream when Zlatko Dedic struck for the home side in the 44th minute.
His strike levelled the aggregate score at 2-2, but the Slovenians advanced to the finals on away goals, thanks to Nejc Pecnik’s strike in Moscow.
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Portugal
Crowds at the World Cup will get to see 2008 Fifa World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo in action after Portugal qualified at the expense of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Leading 1-0 after their home game, the Portuguese won 1-0 again.
Midfielder Nani scored the all-important away goal, effectively meaning Bosnia-Herzogovina would need to net three unanswered goals to take victory. They couldn’t find one as Portugal advanced 2-0 on aggregate.
Uruguay vs Costa Rica
Uruguay secured the final place in South Africa.
They entered their second leg match at home, in Montevideo, with a valuable away goal to their credit, after beating Costa Rica in San Jose in the first leg and, when substitute Sebastian Abreu found the back of the net 20 minutes from time, Uruguayan fans could begin to breathe more easily with a 2010 Fifa World Cup place seemingly all but sealed.
However, that changed only four minutes later when Walter Centeno pulled Costa Rica level to set up a tension-filled finish.
With time runnnig out, Alvaro Saborio came close to winning it for the Costa Ricans, but his shot hit the side-netting, leaving Uruguay, the two time World Cup winners (1930 and 1950), with a place in the finals for the first time since 2002.
Asian Football Confederation
- Korea DPR
- Korea Republic
Confederation of African Football
- Cote d’Ivoire
- South Africa (hosts)
Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
- United States
South American Football Confederation (Conmebol)
Oceania Football Confederation
- New Zealand
Union of European Football Associations (Uefa)
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