Yesterday marked the end of the road for a number of European soccer teams in their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year. Here is a summary of who has qualified, who is yet to qualify and who is going back to the drawing board.
In Group A, despite a 1-1 draw at home against Wales, Belgium went on to take up the automatic spot for the group while Croatia will be going on to the playoffs even though they lost 2-0 away to Scotland.
In Group B, the champions, Italy are the only ones to qualify automatically after their 2-2 draw at home to Armenia. Denmark’s 6-0 drubbing of Malta and and Czech Republic’s 1-0 win away to Bulgaria did not help any of them get to Brazil.
The eight goal thriller in Sweden helped the host take up the play offs spot while the 5-3 winners, Germany took up the automatic spot. It is the end of the road for the rest of Group C!
It looks like Netherlands have another chance to repeat the dream run of 2010 FIFA World Cup as they automatically qualified for next year’s soccer showcase leaving Romania to qualify for playoffs after winning 2-0 at home against Estonia. That leaves Hungary and Andorra to regroup and try again for the Russian showcase of the same competition in five years time to wrap up Group D.
The automatic qualifiers of Group E, Switzerland, were the only team in the group to win their match as they narrowly pipped Slovenia 1-0. Iceland took up the playoffs spot despite a one all draw against Norway. The goalless draw between minnows Albania and Cyprus was literally dead rubber.
Group F saw some interesting results as the next hosts, Russia qualified despite a 1-1 draw playing away to Azerbaijan while Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal had to settle for the playoffs spot despite a 3-0 thrashing of Luxembourg. Northern Ireland and Israel played to a 1-1 draw but this was of little significance.
Bosnia-Herzegovina were the surprise qualification of the whole campaign; their first as an independent nation. They took up Group G’s automatic place, leaving the playoff spot to Greece.
In Group H, there was relief when England won 2-0 over Poland to permanently book a berth for next year’s soccer showcase. Ukraine’s 8-0 massacre of minnows San Marino at least kept their hopes of reaching Brazil alive as they will play in the playoffs.
In Group I, Spain made light work of the qualification process as beat Georgia 2-0 while former world champions, France will have to settle for the playoffs spot in November despite winning 3-0 at home to Finland.
The draw for the playoffs will be done on the 21st of October while the playoffs will be on a two leg system on15 and 19 of November.