Guest Author - Alice Jones
World Cup 2010 - South Africa.
204 teams entered into the World Cup Qualifying tournament in August 2007, and by Novemeber 18th 2009, the 32 finalists will be complete. The six FIFA confederations have been playing their final matches in their qualifying tournaments to compete for the 32 places in the World Cup Finals of 2010. South Africa, hosting the finals, qualifies automatically, while AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North America), CONMEBOL (South America), OFC (Oceania), and UEFA (Europe) will send the 31 additonal teams to the final.
In UEFA, the group matches are now complete. The winners of the groups qualify for the finals outright while the 8 best runners up from those 9 groups will play off for the remaining places.
Denmark, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, England, Serbia, Italy and Netherlands all qualify for the finals as their respective group winners.
The eight best runners-up go into four two-legged play-off matches (on 14 and 18 November) Norway missed out on qualication despite being runner up in their group as their comparative results were not as good as the other runners up.
Four play-off matches of two legs (home and away) will take place on 14 and 18 November to decide the final places.
Those matches are:
Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia
In the CONCACAF qualifying tournament USA won the group and qualfify for the Finals, along with runners up Mexico and 3rd placed Honduras.
In the CONMEBOL tournament Brazil qualify as winners while Chile, Paraguay and and Argentina will also join them in the world cup final.
A play off will take place for the remaining finalist qualification between (CONMEBOL) Uruguay and (CONCACAF) Costa Rica, also on 14th and 18th November.
While their larger neighbours Australia opted for playing in the Asia qualifying tournament this time around, New Zealand did themselves proud and won the Oceana group, but due to the complicated nature of qualifying will have to play-off against a team from the Asia group. Bahrain beat Saudi Arabia in a preliminary play off.
Asia was divided into 2 groups, Australia winning group 1 and automatically qualifying along with runners up Japan.
In Group 2, both South and North Korea automatically qualified as group winners and runners up respectively.
The Asia - Oceania Play Off takes place on the same date as the other play-off matches
14 and 18 November 2009.
New Zealand v Bahrain.
In Africa, Cameroon, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire all qualified as group winners.
We will know all the finalists soon, and the preparations for 2010 South Africa begin in earnest.