ALL THE 2010 TEAM
URUGUAY (18 November, 2009)
Two-time world champions Uruguay clinched the 32nd and final place in South Africa with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Costa Rica. Oscar Tabarez’s men will reflect on their priceless 1-0 victory in San Jose last Saturday, which meant all they needed was to avoid defeat in Montevideo on Wednesday. They took the lead through Sebastian Abreu and although Walter Centeno equalised for Costa Rica, the visitors failed to level the tie.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez: “There is a lot to improve on. We’ll do so and we’ll have the World Cup to prove it. I’m very happy, mostly for the kids. The ones who are younger than eight years old have never seen this and now they can live it.” FRANCE (18 November, 2009)
Perhaps the most controversial qualification. Having finished a point behind Serbia in Group Seven, the French, led by Raymond Domenech, were paired with Republic of Ireland in the play-offs. A 1-0 win in Ireland was followed by a game of huge talking-points in France, with the Irish going in front through Robbie Keane and taking the tie to extra-time. France won it, but with a goal from William Gallas that came after a blatant handball from Thierry Henry.
France coach Raymond Domenech: “It was hard, laborious and indeed miraculous. I was sure we would make it though. We are happy, like the whole of France football. I knew we were going to make a 1-1 draw.” PORTUGAL (18 November, 2009)
Despite having Cristiano Ronaldo, the reigning World Player of the Year, in their ranks, Portugal made hard work of qualifying. They were fourth in Group One at one stage before a late rally earned them second and a play-off berth. Without the injured Ronaldo they secured a place in South Africa thanks to two hard-fought 1-0 victories over Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz: “Bosnia are a good team but Portugal are too strong for them because we have an explosive combination of confidence, desire and determination. I must congratulate my team for a spirited perfor mance, while Bosnia will have gained respect after getting this far.” SLOVENIA (18 November, 2009)
Matjaz Kek’s side reached their second World Cup finals thanks to a surprise play-off defeat of much-fancied Russia, having finished second in Group Three behind Slovakia. A late reply left them trailing 2-1 after the first leg in Moscow and Zlatko Dedic’s goal in Maribor proved enough to earn a victory on the away-goals rule.
Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek: “They are men of merit for continuing the Slovenian football fairytale. They have become immortal. We were better from the first minute of the game and we earned the right to go to South Africa.” GREECE (18 November, 2009)
Euro 2004 champions Greece qualified for their first World Cup since 1994 thanks to veteran German coach Otto Rehhagel, who masterminded their success in Portugal. Having finished second in Group Two behind Switzerland they met Ukraine in a two-legged playoff and won 1-0 in Donetsk after a 0-0 draw in Athens, with Dimitrios Salpigidis getting the winner.
Coach Rehhagel: “I’m proud of my players. They put all of their heart and soul into today’s match. It was really tough to contain Ukraine’s attacks throughout the match but we did our best and luckily we managed to do it.” ALGERIA (18 November, 2009)
The Algerians did it the hard way, after being forced to go to a one-off playoff by Egypt when they lost 2-0 in Cairo in the final group game as the two sides finished neck-and-neck at the top of Group C. They came through the contest at a neutral venue in the Sudanese capital Khartoum thanks to defender Antar Yahia’s magnificent first-half volley that crashed in off the crossbar.
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane: “They played with heart – I think that’s what made the difference. I think we will have time to prepare ourselves for the Cup in Africa now.” CAMEROON (14 November, 2009)
Cameroon avoided drama on the last day of qualification as their 2-0 win in Morocco rendered Gabon’s result in Togo meaningless. Goals from Achille Webo and Samuel Eto’o sent the Indomitable Lions to the World Cup for the sixth time – a new African record. Cameroon were bottom of their group after two games, before Paul Le Guen took over as manager from Otto Pfister.
Coach Le Guen: “The key has been the talent of the players. We didn’t undergo a dramatic change of personnel but I wanted to change the team dynamic. I wanted them to want to come and play for the national team and I (gave) them the best conditions possible.” NIGERIA (14 November, 2009)
Nigeria qualified in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 win against Kenya in Nairobi. The Super Eagles had to win to have any chance of denying Tunisia. They fought back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1, but conceded a 79th-minute equaliser, only for Obafemi Martins to seal an emotional win.
Nigeria coach Amodu Shaibu: “This is a typical Nigerian side which you can never rule out when it is faced with adversity. It’s fantastic.” NEW ZEALAND (14 November, 09)
The Kiwis sealed a berth at only their second World Cup finals with a 1-0 aggregate play-off victory over Bahrain, winning the second game in Wellington in front of a New Zealand record football crowd of 35,100 thanks to Rory Fallon’s first-half header.
NZ coach Rickie Herbert: “We’ve all worked hard, we all backed the system that we truly believe was good enough to win it and they’ve done it. Tonight is about these boys, about a group who believed and have never stopped believing, and their dream continues.” HONDURAS (14 October, 2009)
A 1-0 victory over El Salvador and a crucial last-minute goal by the United States against Costa Rica clinched Honduras’ place in South Africa next year. It is only the second time they have qualified for the finals, the other being in 1982 – and it has all happened while Honduras has been in turmoil following a military coup in June.
Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda: “Today it’s the Honduras fans’ and their team’s turn to celebrate, thanks to the work of many years. Now we have months of work... and let’s hope this victory works out for the good of all.” ARGENTINA (14 October, 2009)
After a troubled qualifying campaign, Diego Maradona’s side came good in their crunch match in Uruguay, with Mario Bolatti’s late goal securing the 1-0 win which secured their place at South Africa. Argentina had only failed to qualify for a World Cup once in their history – in 1970 – but their win secured the fourth and final qualifying spot in the South America group.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona: “I would like to thank the team for giving me the privilege to lead Argentina to World Cup. Thank you to the Argentine people who had faith. This is for those who did not believe in the national team and treated me like dirt – they will now have to accept this.” SLOVAKIA (14 October, 2009)
Slovakia qualified for their first World Cup finals after beating Poland 1-0 to finish top of Group Three thanks to a t h i r d - minut e own goal by Seweryn Gancarczyk and some key saves from Jan Mucha.
Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss: “We played well in these qualifiers, we were lucky today but we’ve also put a lot of heart into it. People deserved this, I’m glad that we made Slovaks happy.” SWITZERLAND (14 October, 2009)
Switzerland got the point they needed to qualify in their final match against Israel but not without a struggle – Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side were hanging on even after their hosts had Avihay Yadin sent off after 59 minutes. The Swiss went on an eight-match unbeaten run after a surprise defeat by Luxembourg.
Coach Hitzfeld: “The goal was to qualify and we made it – the goal is achieved. Compliments to the whole team and to each and every player. It’s another success for me and a dream being fulfilled, it’s a present that Switzerland has given me.”
UNITED STATES October, 2009)
The US had to work hard to seal qualification with a 3-2 win over Honduras, but they made it with a game to spare.
Coach Bradley: “We’re very proud. We understand the responsibility we have every time we step on the field for our fans, for our country.”