Only five berths left for 2006 World Cup finals

13th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 October 2005, HAMBURG - Just five berths for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany remain following the final round of qualifiers Wednesday while 27 teams can relax, safe in the knowledge of a mission accomplished. In Europe, 11 of the 14 places on offer have been filled. Germany are already qualified as hosts as well as the eight qualifying group winners - The Netherlands, Ukraine, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia. The two best-place runner-up teams - Sweden and Poland

13 October 2005

HAMBURG - Just five berths for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany remain following the final round of qualifiers Wednesday while 27 teams can relax, safe in the knowledge of a mission accomplished.

In Europe, 11 of the 14 places on offer have been filled. Germany are already qualified as hosts as well as the eight qualifying group winners - The Netherlands, Ukraine, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia.

The two best-place runner-up teams - Sweden and Poland - will also make the trip to Germany but big names such as European champions Greece, Russia, Denmark, Belgium and Ireland all failed to make the cut.

Greece finished fourth in Group 2 behind Ukraine, Turkey and Denmark while Ireland missed out on a playoff spot after failing to beat Switzerland at home in their final match in Group 4.

Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic, meanwhile, will be the three seeded teams in the playoffs against Norway, Switzerland and Slovakia for the remaining spots.

The playoff draw will be made Friday at FIFA headquarters in Zurich with the three two-legged ties scheduled for 12 and 16 November.

In South American qualifying, Uruguay beat neighbours and rivals Argentina 1-0 in Montevideo in the final round to set up a play-off with Australia.

The first leg of the play-off will be held in Montevideo on November 12, while Sydney will host the return four days later.

Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador had already qualified directly for the finals, as had Brazil, who topped the CONMEBOL group and were easy 3-0 home victors over Venezuela in their final match.

Ecuador finished third in the zone behind Argentina after a lacklustre scoreless draw in front of 70,000 supporters in Santiago's National Stadium.

Missing from next year's finals will be Colombia, Paraguay and Chile.

In the North and Central American and Caribbean region, Trinidad and Tobago secured a playoff position by beating already qualified Mexico 2-1 in their final qualifier Wednesday night in Port of Spain.

The Soca Warriors, who end up their continental campaign in fourth place with 13 points and will next face Asian side Bahrain in a two- legged struggle for a spot at next summers finals.

If T&T had drawn or lost, Guatemala would have done enough to reach the play-off having beaten Costa Rica 3-1 in Guatemala City to finish on 11 points. Costa Rica and the United States, 2-0 victors over Panama, were the two teams alongside Mexico which had already qualified for next summer's finals.

Japan, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia qualified automatically from the Asian zone while Bahrain booked its playoff place against T&T after holding Uzbekistan to a goalless draw in the return leg of the Asian qualifying round play-off match.

The two teams drew 1-1 in Uzbekistan on Saturday in a replayed match. Bahrain advanced to the next round on the away goal rule.

Uzbekistan won the original first leg 1-0 in September, but the ruling body FIFA ruled the game to be replayed because Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida incorrectly awarded Bahrain an indirect free-kick after an Uzbek player ran into the penalty area before Server Djeparov converted a first-half spot-kick for the home side.

The greatest qualifying shocks have taken place in Africa.

When the draw for the 2006 World Cup preliminary competition was made in December two years ago, the top seeded teams were the five countries that represented the continent at the finals in South Korea and Japan in 2002, namely: Senegal, 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Incredibly, only Tunisia have made it to Germany and, instead, Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo all advance to the World Cup finals for the first time.

To make the story of their respective successes even more remarkable is the fact that whilst the Ivory Coast was one of the third seeds, Togo, Angola and Ghana were classified as fourth seeds.

DPA

Subject: German news

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