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.

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