Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

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.”


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