With violence breaking out in Marseilles (France), Egypt and Algeria prior to the last and decisive match to secure the last World Cup spot in Africa, it was Algerians who spent the night chanting and celebrating as they downed the two-time African champion Egypt, with a thunderous and most impressive goal of the week, worldwide.
Man, who would see that coming? Watching the game on a wide screen television with friends, divided and discussing the facts ... a second later there was a moment of shock and silence as we watched Antar Yahia score his side's winning goal in the 39th minute of the match. No one, including myself, would think of Algeria qualifying after watching them going down 2-0 to the Pharaoh on Saturday in Egypt.
Maybe we should just never predict a game until the final whistle. Shout out to all Algeria and congratulations for joining South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory coast and Cameroon as teams to represent our lovely Continent of Africa.
In Europe Portugal repeated the same 1-0 effort of last weekend to down Bosnia Herzegovina and clinch their ticket to South Africa. Greece forced Ukraine out of their way with a 1-0 win, while Guss Heddink could not come in with his genius ideas to save Russia from missing out on the world's number one party, as Russia lost 1-0 to Slovenia. But the night and attention shifted to France as they were getting inches away from losing their ticket to Ireland, with the Irish slotting a goal in the 32nd minute from Robin Keane.
With France winning the first leg with the same margin at the Stade of France on Saturday, the game was a draw, therefore they had to play two additional 15 minute halves extra time to find the winner and the last European guest to South Africa next year. Thierry Henry, the player I idolize, stood up with a what ever it takes attitude and controlled the ball twice with his hand, which the ref did not notice and superbly passed the ball to William Gallas to slot the winner for the French. Now France, Portugal, Greece and Slovakia join Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland as European representation in 2010.
New Zealand has qualified after beating Bahrain 1-0 and will be there together with Australia, Japan, Korea Rep and Korea PRR.
Uruguay was the last to grasp their ticket after drawing with Costa Rica to win the playoff by 2-1 on aggregate and join United States, Paraguay, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras and Chile as the American and Caribbean representatives. As people are celebrating victories in qualified countries tonight, many are already thinking about who they will want to play 204 days from now in South Africa.
And as that decision lies in the mother city of Cape Town South Africa, and the entire world is waiting to hear their 2010 FIFA World Cup group on December 4. To those in the United States with a basic cable television, ESPN2 will broadcast this event to you live at 12 pm Eastern time while it will be at 7 pm in Cape Town Internationale Convention Center. According to fifa.com, celebrities and sport stars and world leaders will be seated in the audience, eager to hear the draw.
Now, who do you think will win the big trophy next year? That’s the million dollar question right there, but according to an ESPN poll, the favorites are Brazil, Italy, Germany, England, Argentina, Spain. Netherlands and the Ivory Coast.
What is your first choice? Let us know.