2010 World Cup qualifying battles not yet over

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pretoria - Football enthusiasts are anxiously waiting to see whether their favourite world football giants qualify for Africa's first world cup, as the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying battles continue.

Last weekend, soccer fans watched international teams battling it out for a spot in the World Cup, with Brazil and Ghana fashionably claiming their places in the next year's finals. However, the drama is not yet over.

Many have already proclaimed that Africa's very first world cup will not be as entertaining as it is anticipated without the likes of Spain, Argentina, England, Portugal or Germany. Nevertheless, it can be anybody's game.

These super teams have to put a hundred percent of their effort into the remaining matches starting on Wednesday, as they all play against tough opponents who also eagerly yearn for a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Spain's Fernando Torres and company are currently leading Group 5 with 21 points. With only three matches left, the European Champions need a win and a draw to qualify.

Spain will play Estonia on Wednesday night in Madrid after outclassing the struggling Belgium with 5-0 last week at home.

Meanwhile, if England wins against Croatia on Wednesday they will see themselves joining Netherlands, North Korea, Brazil, South Korea, Australia, Ghana and Japan, who have already confirmed their spot in the finals, which kick-off on 11 June next year in South Africa.

Fabio Capello's charges lead Group 6 with 21 points and need only one win to claim their place in the World Cup, therefore the match against Croatia is vital for the English men.

More drama is expected in the last match of Group 4, led by Germany, with 19 points followed by Russia with 18 points. The results of this match will decide who comes straight to South Africa.

Both Germany, who defeated host South Africa 2-0 in the international friendly on Saturday, and Russia need to win all three remaining matches to guarantee their place in the finals.

Germany is playing Azerbaijan in Hanover while Russia will be locking horns with Wales in Cardiff. Both matches will be played tomorrow.

In Europe, all nine group winners will qualify directly for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The eight best second placed teams will contest play off matches to decide the four teams which will join the group winners in South Africa.

The draw for these matches will be conducted on 19 October and the play-offs will be played over two legs on 14 and 18 November.

Meanwhile, Africa is not the exception in this thrilling world cup qualification drama as Ghana became the first team to qualify.

Another African team expected to jet off to South Africa next year is C"te d' Ivoire, who need one more win to qualify, after they outplayed Burkina Faso 5-0 on Saturday.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and acquaintances have been phenomenal in their past qualifying matches and a hopeful win against Malawi on 10 October will give them a right to play in the finals.

In Asia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia played a goalless draw last weekend and will play the second leg of the match on Wednesday, which will decide who faces New Zealand for a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Action will continue to unfold in all continental zones including South America, North America and Central America as well as the Caribbean zones.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup requires 32 teams with world defending champions Italy and host South Africa qualifying automatically.