Sudan over the past few years has become notorious for violence but not on the 18th of November the last day of the world cup qualifiers. It was the neutral hosting ground of a David and Goliath affair. Odds never tipped Les Fennecs up against the clinical pharaohs of Egypt who haven’t been their usual selves ever since their salacious escapades in the city of Joburg during their Confederations Cup affair earlier on in the year. A game that Egyptians could have easily clinched with two narrow misses that would prove quite costly as the Algerians got a goal early in the second half, throwing the gauntlet to the Pharaohs who never retorted in anyway and thereby leaving the Algerians winner on the night. But pride wasn’t the only thing at stake that night. Jubilation filled the stands as Algeria qualified for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa and the Egyptians will watch it in the comfort of their own homes no bullet proofs vests for them and extremely tight security.
Elsewhere another place more prominent for being a battle field in the 20th century was hosting another David and Goliath encounter this one being one of the favourites of the tournament up against Bosnia. A misty pedestrian match was settled with a goal by Raul Meireles to give Portugal their tickets to the World Cup.
Les Blues needed assistance from Thierry Henry’s hand to salvage a draw and avoid penalties against the ever pugnacious Robbie Keane- led Irish team. Ireland drew first blood 32nd minutes into the first half; through their inspirational captain Robbie Keane. Ire land could have made the task easier if they had managed to score a second goal courtesy of Damien Duff, who missed quite an easy opportunity. Then the hand incident happened as the match was drawing to a close in extra time and it has since not been received kindly by the fans and the French captain has threatened to retire from International football; even though we all know that is as false as his penalty against the Catalans three champions league seasons ago. Henry will be leading the runners up from the last world cup, come June and one doesn’t have to pay me for my clairvoyant abilities because he certainly wont be retired. Ireland soccer team officials have appealed to the association for a replay of the match.
In Africa the usual suspects can be expected to come to South Africa and showcase their flair, except the CAF cup champs of course. Cameroon who have made the most turn ups to the world cup will be here yet again. The Super Eagles of Nigeria who were visibly absent in the last holy grail showcasing will make a welcomed return. Star studded Ivory Coast will also want to make the most of this campaign and so too will Ghana. Then of course our very own Bafana who have managed to plummet to 86thposition in the Fifa rankings since the last article. They are actually hoping to be in the same group as New Zealand and the feeling is mutual. One would pardon the local boys for lacking in ambition they actually happen to be the worst seeded country in the tournament. Their two friendlies against Jamaica and Japan ended in stalemates and that just doesn’t add impetus as to why we should have any high hopes of circumventing any teams to actually qualify for the second round.
From South America the ever present samba boys and winners of Confed Cup will be back again to try to attempt winning their sixth trophy. Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and winners of the first two world cups Uruguay will be here.
Other countries who qualified earlier for the prestigious tournament are Netherlands – arguably the biggest bridesmaids – with England who continuously choke tournament after tournament, but will be hoping to make amends. Spain: who are the current European champions; Korea DPR make their first welcome after a four decade absence; Honduras after a 28 year absence. Hopefully it will be a safe world cup and nothing like the German press alluded to some months back, with claims that their national team should wear bulletproof vests and invest in heavy security. Hopefully football fairytales will take place and upsets will occur and maybe the soccer gods could look upon Africa with favour this time.