Friday, November 20, 2009

Final pieces completed

The final teams to qualify for South Africa 2010 became known after the play-off matches were completed in November. Greece who had been held to a goalless draw at home, silenced Ukraine with a single goal in the return match to book themselves a spot in the finals while a 1-0 win for the Republic of Ireland in France was only enough to take the match into extra time where a highly controversial goal marked the end of the road for the irate Irish. A goal and penalty save for New Zealand at home to Bahrain gave the Kiwis a place in the finals as the lowest ranked team to qualify where they will be joined by Uruguay despite being held to a 1-1 home draw by Costa Rica.
In Africa where only group winners would succeed, Cameroon secured qualification with a 2-0 victory in Morocco while Tunisia fell at the last hurdle losing 1-0 in Mozambique allowing Nigeria to overtake them with a 3-2 win in Kenya and qualify for the finals at their expense. Egypt who had forced a replay with a last gasp goal in their 2-0 home win over Algeria were stunned 4 days later in Sudan when the Algerians scored the only goal of a tense match to become the last representatives of Africa in the 2010 World Cup.
World Cup qualification was not the only prize on offer as Mali who had already been eliminated earned a place in next year’s African Cup of Nations with a 2-2 draw in Ghana.
In the Asian Cup qualifiers Thailand enjoyed a 3-1 win in Singapore but were brought back to earth suffering a shock 1-0 defeat in Bangkok. Syria could only draw 0-0 at home to Vietnam but the point was enough to secure them a place in the 2011 Asian Cup finals.
A 2-0 win for Qatar over Paraguay in France and a victory by the same score line for Azerbaijan against the Czech Republic in the UAE were the most unexpected friendly results in November.