New Zealand & Japan Name Squads

While the coaches of the other 30 nations taking part in the World Cup next month are still mulling over their squads, New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert and Japan’s Takeshi Okada have already named their 23 man squads.

New Zealand’s All Whites contains six British based players: captain Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), fellow defender Tommy Smith (Ipswich) and strikers Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough) and Chris Wood (West Brom). Midfielder Michael McGlinchey plays for Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League.

Interestingly, Japan’s squad – which will be facing England in a couple of weeks so we’ll look at them in depth at that point – includes only four players based outside the J-League.

Quite a few friendlies featuring qualifiers this week: Mexico face Senegal at the Azteca in the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time; they also play Angola on Friday, the same day that Germany play Malta.

Stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll be looking at our 30 man squad whilst trying to watch the second leg of the Nottingham Forest v Blackpool play off semi final. At time of writing it looks as if it will include a middle aged man nicknamed ‘Calamity’ in goal, several injured centre backs and a German with a Canadian accent who has played about five minutes in the Premiership this season. Oh and I almost forgot: our talismanic striker has a groin strain.

It wouldn’t be the World Cup if everyone was fit though, would it?

By the way – Chelsea 8, Wigan 0? That’s a baseball score. Wigan should be ashamed of themselves.

Uruguay Claim 32nd Spot

The World Cup winners in 1930 and 1950 became the last team to qualify for South Africa 2010 thanks to a draw with Costa Rica at the Centenario in Montevideo. Substitute Sebastian Abreu – who plays for Aris Salonika in Greece put the hosts ahead 70 minutes but Costa Rica equalised when Deportivo Saprissa’s Walter Centeno scored four minutes later.

It’s the first time Uruguay have qualified since 2002: they lost to Australia at this stage in 2006. Their qualification means that we should see Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan in action next year.

So there we have it: all 32 qualifiers decided, with the group stage draw to be held in a couple of weeks. We’ll be looking at some of the possible permutations of the draw when the seedings are decided but here’s something to think about: in 1966, England’s group contained France, Mexico and Uruguay, all of whom will be present next year.

Still think we’ll get North Korea though…

Algeria Through

The Desert Foxes (not making this up either) beat Egypt 1-0 with a first half goal from Anthar Yahia of Germany’s VfL Bochum. Last appeared in the finals in Mexico 86, where they drew with Northern Ireland but lost to Spain and Brazil.

Good luck to Ireland, who kick off in Paris in about 15 minutes. If you check out the ‘Latest Tweets’ section, we’ll have updates via Twitter…so you won’t have to log in. If you do, search for 11lions.

Egypt v Algeria: Winner Stays On

As a result of their dramatic 2-0 win on Saturday (the crucial second goal was scored in injury time), Egypt will meet Algeria for a third time on Wednesday in Sudan: whoever wins goes to South Africa. To describe this game as ‘a local rivalry’ is an understatement: the Algerian team bus was attacked at the weekend and both sides ending up blaming each other – the Algerians blamed Egyptians who had been wound up by satellite TV broadcasts (insert Fox News joke here), the Egyptians claimed that it was arranged by local Algerians to make them look bad.

So well done whichever genius at FIFA decided to arrange a playoff between two rivals who can’t stand each other in a country at war with itself governed by a regime that might be described as ‘dodgy at best’.

Naturally, we’ll have the result when it comes in; kick of is 5:30pm GMT.

Quick Round Up

New Zealand, Nigeria and Cameroon all joined the list of qualifiers today, whilst Russia, France and Portugal all won the first legs of their UEFA region playoff games. The only stalemate was the goalless draw in Athens between Greece and Ukraine; Costa Rica play Uruguay in the first leg of their playoff at 02:00 GMT on Sunday so we’ll have news of what happened in that one bright and early tomorrow morning. Finally for today, thanks for everyone that joined us for our initial live blog, which got underway a little later than planned – sorry about that!

England Call Up For Beachball?

Probably not…which is a shame. It’s got a really good goalscoring record against one of the top teams in the Premiership.

Anyway, here’s the line up for the UEFA playoffs: all of them kick off at 7pm GMT on Saturday November 14th 2009.

Greece v Ukraine

Ireland v France

Portugal v Bosnia & Herzegovina

Russia v Slovenia

It’s also worth noting that on the Saturday the second leg of the New Zealand/Bahrain  (0-0) playoff kicks off at 7am GMT that Saturday and the first leg of Costa Rica v Uruguay kicks off an hour later than the European games.

Returns legs for the UEFA region are the following Wednesday, winners qualify for the finals. Premiership preview should be up on Thursday.

Updated List Of Qualifiers

Confirmed qualifiers in alphabetical order: Australia, Argentina (yes, they did it – and it wouldn’t have been the same without them), Brazil, Chile, Denmark, England, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, North Korea, Paraguay, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and USA.

In the UEFA playoffs: Bosnia, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

Central/South America playoff: Costa Rica v Uruguay. You have to feel for Costa Rica: two goals up in the USA only to end up drawing courtesy of an equaliser in the 96th minute.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Premiership preview.

Quick Look Forward To Wednesday

Hello again, it’s a brief one this evening but we’ll have another couple of posts before the weekend with more news from the final round of qualifiers and a Premiership preview.

Our unbeaten run went out of the window at the weekend, but we’re not reading too much into it: if Rio Ferdinand is having a ‘blip’ we’d rather he had it now than next June and imagine how disappointing it would have been if we’d been unbeaten until the first game of the tournament proper.

Saturday was an exciting day, we watched bits of several games and saw both Italy and Argentina snatch last minute goals. It was heartbreak for Ireland who blew their chances of automatic qualification about a minute after the same chances looked so good against the World Champions; Argentina almost made a complete mess of things by letting a terrible Peru side back into their game (played in the middle of rainstorm in a windlashed Buenos Aires) in injury time and then won it the death. Mr. Maradona’s celebration of Martin Palermo’s winner is worth watching if you can find it on Youtube. Next time Manchester United score a ‘late’ winner in a rainstorm I’d love to see Fergie do what Diego did.

Anyway, we now have several more confirmed qualifiers but tomorrow night we’ll have an even more complete picture. Things to look out for in the UEFA region:

* After all the hysteria about Portugal not qualifying, they will probably make the playoffs. Their last game is against Malta. At home. Sweden play Albania, which is no longer a guaranteed three points.

* In Group 2, everything is still wide open and Greece may end up qualifying automatically. Switzerland have fellow contenders Israel at home and the Greeks have to beat Luxembourg.

* Northern Ireland have a very tough task in the Czech Republic, especially as the Czechs also have to win to stand a chance of qualification. It doesn’t help either of them that Slovenia and Slovakia have home games, against Poland and San Marino respectively; look out for the commentators on Northern Ireland’s game using the

* Croatia should probably reach the playoffs with a win over Kazakhstan, but Ukraine face Andorra in arguably the easier game.

Argentina’s win over Peru has made life a lot easier for them, but with Chile qualifying on Saturday night with a win in Colombia, the game between Uruguay and Argentina tomorrow is still absolutely crucial.

So there’s still a lot to look forward to and a lot to play for as the qualifiers sort themselves out: we’ll be issuing updates to the site via our Twitter account until about 11:00pm GMT on Wednesday.

Thanks for reading!