Friday, October 14, 2005

Ready for Playoffs

After Wednesday’s matches there are now only 5 places up for grabs; which will be determined by playoffs in November.

In the group of draws the trend continued as the Irish drew blanks in Dublin against Switzerland who qualified for the playoffs. A Turkish goal in Albania eliminated Denmark and the European champions Greece, giving Turkey a spot in the playoffs.

Spain’s 6-0 victory in San Marino wasn’t enough to give them automatic qualification. That honour went to Serbia & Montenegro who beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-0. Spain will playoff against Slovakia who knocked Russia out with a goalless draw.

Norway who won 1-0 in Belarus will meet the Czech Republic who triumphed 3-0 in Finland for a place in the World Cup.

In South America Colombia’s 1-0 victory in Paraguay was in vain as Uruguay beat Argentina by the same score to book a double encounter with Australia.

Despite a valiant effort by Guatemala which resulted in a 3-1 victory against Costa Rica, the playoff spot in that region went to Trinidad & Tobago who beat Mexico 2-1 which Stern John scoring both goals after having missed a penalty. They will meet Bahrain who held Uzbekistan to a goalless draw in Manama.

The only 3 countries to be added to the list of World Cup participants on Wednesday were Sweden, France and Serbia & Montenegro.

Among the teams to do well in Mark’s rankings; which can be seen at,

were Macedonia who drew 0-0 in the Netherlands, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Armenia with their 3-0 win in Andorra and in particular Scotland who returned from Slovenia with a 3-0 victory.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Final Day in Africa

The qualifying round came to an end in Africa this weekend and 4 teams qualified for the very first time. Cameroon’s stoppage time penalty miss against Egypt gave Ivory Coast their ticket to Germany. Ghana booked their place in the finals with a convincing 4-0 win away to Cape Verde, while Togo won 3-2 in Congo to deny Senegal another World Cup appearance. Angola’s solitary goal in Rwanda made Nigeria’s 5-1 win in Zimbabwe meaningless, and in a direct battle for qualification Tunisia and Morocco who had both qualified before, fought out a 2-2 draw which was enough for the hosts and champions of Africa to progress to the finals.

In one of the most eagerly anticipated matches in Europe; the Netherlands won 2-0 in the Czech Republic, not only to qualify themselves, but to give direct qualification to Poland, England and Croatia. The Czechs moved down to 5th place in Mark’s rankings with this defeat.

Scotland’s slim hopes were dashed when they lost 1-0 at home to Belarus, while Italy qualified from that group with a 1-0 victory against Slovenia. Portugal failed to impress, but their narrow 2-1 win against Liechtenstein was rewarded with a place in next summer’s finals.

Ecuador and Paraguay did enough to qualify from South America, while in a heroic 3-0 win over the USA gave Costa Rica a place in next year’s World Cup. Trinidad & Tobago kept their hopes alive with a 1-0 win in Panama.