16 October 2009
Argentina, Honduras, Slovakia and Switzerland are the latest qualifiers for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, bringing to 24 the number of countries – including hosts South Africa – who are booked to compete at the first football World Cup on African soil.
In the South American zone, a goal by Mario Bolatti in the 84th minute against Uruguay granted the Argentineans the right to participate in the next year’s football spectacular, after a qualification race which went down to the final minute.
Diego Maradona’s charges have now joined Brazil, Paraguay and Chile as the four teams from this group who have secured automatic qualification for 2010.
Honduras, in the North, Central America and Caribbean zone, dramatically claimed a spot in the next year’s finals after a 1-0 win against El Salvador enabled them to leapfrog Costa Rica – who were held to a draw by already qualified USA.
In Europe, Slovakia beat Poland 1-0, while a goalless draw was enough for the Swiss to join England, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands and Germany, who had already qualified.
There are now only nine places left to make up the 32 teams that will take part in the finals.
The group phase qualifiers have reached their conclusion in Europe, Asia, South America, and North, Central America and the Caribbean, but the qualifying action is not yet over, as some teams still have to battle it out in play-offs to decide the final places.
Focus shifting as 2010 looms
“As more and more teams qualify for the World Cup next year, the focus of the world and its media is beginning to shift toward the reality of the tournament, the teams who will be part of the tournament, the stars in those teams who will grace our fields, and the performances we can expect from them,” 2010 Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan said in a statement on Thursday.
Jordaan said the World Cup would not have been the same without the presence of Argentina. “With their qualification, fans at next year’s tournament will also be able to watch one of the world’s most talented players in Lionel Messi,” he added.
“Argentina has become a fixture in the World Cup and, as one of the biggest teams in the history of the tournament, enjoys fanatical support at home and around the world. We look forward to welcoming their fans to South Africa.”
Jordan assured the international community that fans travelling to South Africa to support their team next year would receive a warm welcome and experience a uniquely African tournament.