The 32 sides qualified for the World Cup are waiting for the draw with baited breath. In the meantime, their hosts have welcomed each of the latest qualifiers individually...
Greece, Slovenia, Portugal, France, Uruguay and Algeria all secured their tickets to South Africa next year.
They join Nigeria, Cameroon, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, North Korea, Australia, South Korea, USA, Brazil, Ghana, England, Paraguay, Spain, Denmark, Cote d’Ivoire, Chile, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Switzerland, Argentina, Honduras, Slovakia and hosts South Africa as the teams participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.
Algeria qualified after beating Egypt 1-0, securing the final spot from the six Africa zone positions available.
“After a 23-year absence, we welcome Algeria back to the World Cup stage. We look forward to seeing if they can repeat the heroics of their first FIFA World Cup, where they claimed a deserved 2-1 victory over eventual finalists West Germany,” said Jordaan in a press statement.
The Desert Foxes also beat Namibia in September to qualify for the African Nations Cup, which will be held in Angola next year. They have twice played in the World Cup – in 1982 and 1986.
France qualified after a 1-1 draw with Ireland. “It is a pleasure to welcome a former World Cup champion and host to South Africa,” said Jordaan. "As one of the giants of world football, France will definitely attract the attention of the fans and I am certain their matches will be sold out."
Portugal qualified after beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0. “With stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and the like coming to South Africa, the competition is certainly heating up and it is the fans that will benefit," he continued. "It is with great pleasure that I welcome the Portuguese to South Africa in 2010 and I am sure the strong Portuguese community in this country is equally pleased. Portugal can be assured that they will be welcomed with open arms when they arrive in South Africa in just under 200 days time.”
Portugal have made four World Cup appearances in their history, with a best place of third during the 1966 tournament in England.
Slovenia qualified after beating Russia 1-0, advancing on away goals. “With one World Cup already under their belt, Slovenia have proved their worth and are a welcome addition to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. We look forward to seeing them in action next year,” said Jordaan.
Slovenia have participated in international competition after gaining independence following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. After missing out on a place at France 1998, they qualified for the World Cup finals at the second attempt, gaining entry to the 2002 edition in South Korea/Japan.
Greece qualified after beating Ukraine 1-0. “We have seen what Greece can do in major football tournaments after their win in Euro 2004, and they are a great addition to the 2010 tournament,” Jordaan continued. "South Africa has a strong Greek community that will certainly come out in support of this team during the World Cup."
Greece rewrote the football history books in the summer of 2004 with their sensational European Championship triumph in Portugal. Dismissed as rank outsiders before the tournament, the Greek dream gathered momentum as some of the sport's big names, including dethroned champions France, Czech Republic and finally hosts Portugal, succumbed to them.
Uruguay qualified after a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica. “With such a rich World Cup history it really is an honour to have Uruguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As the first host and winner of this tournament they are a World Cup institution and will be closely followed during the tournament next year,” said Jordaan.
It has been some time since their last World Cup triumph − in Brazil in 1950 − but the Celeste have competed in eight further finals. They also reached the semi-finals in 1954 and 1970, and have qualified for the second round twice since.
The 32 qualified teams will be placed into their groups on December 4, 2009 during the Final Draw of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Cape Town.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com