Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Netherlands all qualify for 2010 FIFA World Cup

Monday, June 8, 2009

Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands have all qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Australia drew 0–0 with Qatar, Japan defeated Uzbekistan 1–0, South Korea qualified by defeating the United Arab Emirates 2–0 and a 2–1 win over Iceland saw the Netherlands qualify. All four countries have two games to play in qualifying.

Mark Schwarzer, Australian goalkeeper.
Image: Kevin Airs.

"They put us under pressure," Australia coach Pim Verbeek said of his team's games. "We thought they could only do that for 20 minutes and they did it for almost 90 so I have to congratulate the young players from Qatar. They made it very difficult for us."

In a statement emailed out to the media, Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said, "It's another first for Australian football, and it's come off the back of a comprehensive qualification pathway which began in February last year. Qualifying this time around, with the travel and match conditions the team has experienced, is a true measure of the progress football has made. While 'do or die' results, such as the famous Uruguay game four years ago are exciting, a qualifying campaign such as this one through the Asian zone is a tough test."

FIFA named the Japan-Uzbekistan game as match of the day. Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki scored the only goal of that match, securing Japan's place at the World Cup.

"This away game was really tough but I'm really happy, because I'd only scored in friendly games previously," Okazaki said. "This time, I feel like I did very well for the Japanese team.

"Japan are a big team — both on and off the field — who have become a major force in world football. We are delighted that they today became the first team to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup," Danny Jordaan, World Cup organising committee chief, said.

South Korea opened the scoring in there match with the UAE through Park Chu-young after five minutes. Ki Sung-yueng sealed qualification for the Koreans on 37 minutes.

The Netherlands scored their two goals in the first ten minutes. Nigel de Jong scored after eight minutes and Mark van Bommel scored on 15 minutes.