Stephen Constantine is the head coach of the Sudan national team. In his regular column for Goal.com, he shares his thoughts about African and world football.Well it's all over. The 32 participants for the next World Cup in South Africa 2010 have been decided and it can't come soon enough.
Looking at the African side of things, what a finale we had with several games going down to the wire not to mention the play off between Egypt and Algeria here in Khartoum.
Let me first put the record straight after all the so-called trouble that was supposed to have had happened here in Sudan.
Although I did not agree with the choice of venues, my feeling was that this game could have attracted 100,000 fans never mind the 35,000 fans that crammed into such a small stadium.
The police in Sudan did an excellent job in keeping the peace and the rival fans apart for the most part and should be commended. Its not often we say that so credit where credit is due
If fans want to kill each other anywhere in the world they will find a way to do so and you can't blame the police in Sudan for anything in my opinion.
Algeria Fans Have Lots To Look Forward To
Algeria made it and now can use the African Nations Cup in their build up to the ultimate competition in the World Cup.
So let's look at the other teams to have joined them, well South Africa as hosts will of course be there but I am a little worried about them not making it to the African Cup of Nations.
It's a massive blow. I don’t care what anyone says. One competitive international equals five friendlies. South Africa are going to need to get some very good performances in the build up before going into the group stages of the World Cup.
There also going to have to hope that their best player by far Steven Pienaar will be fit and healthy after what’s looking like a long hard season for Everton.
Much Rests On Pienaar's Shoulders
Hats off to the Nigerians who went through by the skin of their teeth. Going into the final round against Kenya, the Kenyans had to win and hope that Mozambique lost to Tunisia for Kenya to make it to Angola.
It didn’t quite happen like that and the biggest losers aside from the Kenyans were the Tunisians who will not be making it to the World Cup.
Given the Tunisians' last gasp equalizer in Nigeria to save a point you really would not have bet against them winning in Mozambique but the Mambas had other ideas.
This is a good example of a team that has over the last 12 months gone through a rebuilding process and their Dutch coach Mart Nooij after a year of ups and downs, has got his reward….well done to the Mambas.
Cameroon are back where they belong as far as I am concerned. They have a great tradition and have made it to their sixth finals am I am really looking forward to seeing them do well in South Africa.
Ivory Coast also made it back for a second consecutive World Cup remembering that 2006 was their first time and are really starting to put their stamp down on African football. They lost in the 2006 African Nations Cup on penalties to the hosts Egypt, followed that with by a semi final place in Ghana and now another World Cup.
Ivory Coast Looking Dangerous
They managed to qualify at the expense of the much improved Burkina Faso and my old team Malawi though both made it to Angola. I would like to offer a special well done to Kinnah Pirri my former assistant coach and the Malawi team who have done fantastic to make it to Angola hopefully they can do well.
The first team to make to South Africa was the Black Stars and they did it by beating my Sudan national team in Accra 2-0 . They have such a good squad with depth and quality all over the pitch and I think they will do well.
Going into the qualifiers I always thought they would be the team to beat and after four games it was won four lost none, scored seven and conceded none and while we were hoping they would carry that on after qualifying It was to be expected that they would take their foot off the accelerator and drop points, we did not expect them to lose in Benin.
Ghana - First To Qualify
For us in Sudan it has been a difficult time as we are in the middle of a rebuilding process but despite the results the performances of the young players has been encouraging and I am certain that this young Sudanese team will deliver in the coming months ahead.
So in the last World Cup we had four African teams make it for the first time in Ghana, Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, and Togo this simple fact says that African football is improving all the time with more associations prepared to invest in their coaches and at grassroots levels.
It is no accident then that at this next world cup you have teams who have spent years in investing in youth and are producing players on a regular basis this takes time and forward planning but it can be done
I wish all the teams well and lets hope they make Africa proud in this African World Cup.
Stephen Constantine, Goal.com
Can an African team win next summer's World Cup? Find out in the November issue of Goal.com Magazine.