FIFA World Cup 2010 Qualification Competition
The first Nation to qualify for the 2010 World Cup was South Africa, once their bid to host the competition was accepted by FIFA on 15th May 2004 in Switzerland. Traditionally, the World Cup holders also used to get a free ride to the next tournament but this has changed in recent years and Italy entered the European qualification rounds, along with 52 other Nations. A total of 203 nations from around the world entered the qualification competition chasing the 31 available places.
All seven previous FIFA World Cup winners (Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina & France) will be present in South Africa, so any football betting will be bound to feature one of those teams as favourites. Of the teams that have so far failed to win the World Cup, Spain and the Netherlands must rank among the teams most fancied.
The 53 European (UEFA) countries were split into eight groups of six teams and one group of five with the winners automatically booking their berth to South Africa. The best eight runners-up from the nine groups played-off against each other to give a final quota of 13 qualifiers. Denmark, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, England, Serbia, Italy and the Netherlands all went through as group winners. France, Portugal, Greece and Slovenia all won their play-offs.
There were also 53 African (CAF) countries and with South Africa already confirmed as hosts, the other 52 teams battled for the 5 more spots available. After a complex series of qualification groups, the eventual successful nations of Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) emerged.
South American (CONMEBOL) qualification took the form of the now traditional single group with all 10 countries playing each other twice for the four automatic berths and one play-off place. Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina finished as the top four teams. The play-off place went to Uruguay, who would later beat Central America’s Costa Rica and join the other four South American teams in the Finals.
35 countries from North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) competed for the three automatic places and one play-off spot for South Africa. After a complex series of eliminators, six nations emerged to play in the final group decider. The United States, Mexico and Honduras all gained automatic qualification with Costa Rica finishing fourth and later losing the play-off to South America’s Uruguay. El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago finished at the bottom of the group decider.
The 43 entrants from Asia (AFC) had to first negotiate their preliminary rounds before the 10 top nations formed two groups of five for the final group stage. The top two from each group were rewarded with automatic entries to the World Cup Finals while the third placed teams in each group held a play-off to determine the fifth Asian qualifier.
Australia won the first group with Japan second and Bahrain third. The second group was won by South Korea with North Korea second and Saudi Arabia third. Bahrain won the play-off and had to face the winners of the Oceania zone for a place in South Africa.
The 10 nations which made-up the Oceania (OFC) zone had been weakened by Australia’s decision to play their football as part of Asia, so there was no guaranteed place for the winner, as there had been in previous FIFA World Cup competitions. New Zealand won the group stage and then faced Bahrain in a final play-off, which they won.