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world cup 2010

The final qualifiers

November 18, 2009

As we reach the end of World Cup qualifying in Europe, Africa and the intercontinental play-offs, we look at each of the qualified teams and how they got there.

Vuvuzela
GettyImagesSouth Africa fans trumpet their Vuvuzelas only a few months ago.

• HOSTS
South Africa
. Not having to lift a finger to qualify for their own competition, the South African side gave a good account of themselves at the Confederations Cup, but failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup. The eyes of the world will be upon them in June.

• UEFA REGION
Denmark: A 1-0 win over rivals Sweden gave the Danes top spot and they only lost once in a group they were not expected to win.
England: A defeat to Ukraine aside, Fabio Capello's side were consistently impressive as they won 9 out of their 10 games and bagged the most goals too.
Germany: With two wins over rivals Russia, the Germans sealed their place with some gritty performances and some dominant home form.
Italy: Not the most convincing in terms of form, the World Champions struggled away from home, came back from two goals down against Cyprus, and still topped the group.
Netherlands: Wrapping up qualification early with a 100% record, the Dutch hardly broke sweat and conceded just two goals on their way to the finals.
Serbia: A shock group winner after holding off France, a 5-0 hammering of Romania showed the world that they are a serious proposition.
Spain: Arguably the best side in the competition, a classy display saw them maintain a 100% record and not concede a single goal at home.
Slovakia: Despite losing to rivals Slovenia in the penultimate game, they picked up a win over Poland to seal their place at the top of the group and book their place at their first international competition.
Switzerland: With a point enough on the final day, the Swiss lost only once - to minnows Luxembourg - during the qualifiers to pip Greece to the post.

PLAY-OFFS:
Greece: A first-half goal from Dimitris Salpigidis saw off Ukraine after a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg. Going to Donetsk and winning was a great result, if somewhat unexpected.
Slovenia: An away goal in Russia in the first leg proved crucial, but they still had to overcome Guus Hiddink's men at home and an incredible 1-0 win sealed their progress for the first time since 2002.
Portugal: Ronaldo-less Portugal won 1-0 in both legs against Bosnia-Herzegovina to seal their progress. A shocking qualifying campaign, but they got the results when it mattered most.
France: A blatent handball by Thierry Henry was the difference as France drew 1-1 with Ireland in Paris, after beating them 1-0 at Croke Park, to seal their place. Leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

• CONMEBOL
Brazil: Favourites in the group, Dunga's men made sure of qualification without dominating and struggled slightly away from home.
Paraguay: Winning seven of their eight home games, Paraguay surprised many by easing through the qualifiers with wins over Brazil and Argentina.
Chile: Getting to a World Cup for the first time since France '98, their away form saw them score 18 goals and seal their place.
Argentina: After making a meal of qualifying, including a horrible final run, Maradona's men made it by beating Uruguay away in the last game. More will be expected in South Africa.

• CONCACAF

Mexico: A perfect home record and no real surprises in a group they were always going to find easy.
United States: Managing to beat Honduras on the road, the U.S. also cruised through by virtue of an impressive home record.
Honduras: In the most dramatic of conclusions on the final day, Honduras beat El Salvador 1-0 but only qualified when the U.S. equalised against Costa Rica with 20 seconds remaining.

INTERCONTINENTAL PLAY-OFF:
Uruguay: They have been in the play-off situation before, so a 1-0 win over Costa Rica, followed by a nervy 1-1 draw in the second leg proved enough to send them through. Experience does count for something.

CAF

Didier Drogba
GettyImagesDrogba's Ivory Coast have booked their ticket to South Africa.

Ghana: Dominant home form from the Black Stars kept them at the top of each of their groups, and they have been tipped to end a 28-year wait for the African Nations Cup title before South Africa.
Ivory Coast: A commanding qualification from the Elephants, as they did not lose a game in either group stage on their way to the finals.
Nigeria: The Super Eagles pipped Tunisia to the post on Saturday when coming from behind to beat Kenya 3-2 and ensure a dramatic conclusion to qualifying. Nigeria won nine of 12 qualifiers across both group stages, drawing the other three games.
Cameroon: A win away at Morocco saw Cameroon hold off the challenge of Gabon to finish first in Group A. The Indomitable Lions recovered from a poor start to the second group stage when they picked up only one point from their first two games.
Algeria: Needing a sudden death play-off to beat Egypt, the situation came about because Egypt won their final group game 2-0. A fiesty affair, the play-off was held in neutral Sudan and Algeria won 1-0, sending them to their first World Cup since 1986.

• ASIA
Australia: Hammering all before them at home, they managed just two goals on the road, but qualified with ease.
Japan: Finishing as runners-up behind the Socceroos, Japan's excellent early away form pushed them above Bahrain.
South Korea: Looking to emulate their successes of 2002, they topped both their groups without losing a game and netted 22 goals in the process too.
Korea DPR: Getting through for the first time since 1966, when they famously beat Italy, Korea DPR finished as runners-up behind their southern rivals as they had a better goal difference than Saudi Arabia.

INTERCONTINENTAL PLAY-OFF
New Zealand: Rory Fallon's goal on Saturday was enough for the All Whites to defeat Bahrain 1-0 on aggregate. New Zealand finished top of the group in Oceania when winning five of their six qualifiers.