FIFA World Cup 2010: Flops and Surprises in Qualifying Rounds

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FIFA World Cup 2010: Flops and Surprises in Qualifying Rounds
(Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Now that we are officially within one year of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals, it's safe to say that excitement is building around the anticipation of this huge world event taking place in South Africa.

Qualifying will be finished by Nov. 18, and then the world will be in a frenzy of ticket buying and flight arranging until the start date of June 11, 2010.

But this World Cup could have a little different flavor than those of recent years past.  The only surprise misses of 2006 were Greece and Denmark (both in the same group), and Greece solely because it had won EURO 2004 by surprise.  In 2002, there were really no surprise misses at all.

In 2010, qualification has been all jumbled up, and the possibilities of surprise teams left out and put in are endless.  Here's a look at the biggest names that could well miss the tournament, succeeded by a look at the unproven countries searching for that one breakthrough bid.  There are different qualification procedures for the six FIFA confederations and complicated seedings, so those rules can be found here.

Big Qualification Flops

Poland

Third in Group Three of UEFA (three points behind Northern Ireland and five points behind Slovakia)

Lost 3-2 to Northern Ireland, 2-1 to Slovakia, and tied Slovenia 1-1

Made the two previous World Cups

Remaining games: Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia

Czech Republic

Fourth in Group Three of UEFA (five points behind Northern Ireland and seven points behind Slovakia)

Lost 2-1 to both Poland and Slovakia, tied 0-0 with both Slovenia and Northern Ireland

Made 2006 World Cup and sported one of the Cup's youngest rosters

Remaining games: Slovakia, San Marino, Poland, Northern Ireland

Portugal

Third in Group One of UEFA (four points behind Hungary and seven points behind Denmark)

Lost 3-2 to Denmark, Tied 0-0 with Sweden twice and Albania once

Made the two previous World Cups and took fourth place in 2006

Remaining games: Denmark, Hungary, Hungary, Malta

Sweden

Third in Group One of UEFA (four points behind Hungary and seven points behind Denmark)

Lost 1-0 to Denmark, Tied 0-0 with Portugal twice and Albania once

Made the two previous World Cups and made the Round of 16 in 2006

Remaining games: Hungary, Malta, Denmark, Albania

Mexico

Fourth in CONCACAF (one point behind Honduras)

Lost to Honduras 3-1 and to El Salvador 2-1

Made the four previous World Cups and made the Round of 16 in 2006

Remaining games: USA, Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago

Big Qualification Surprises

Chile

Second in CONMEBOL (one point behind Brazil)

1-0 win over Argentina

Hasn't made a bid since 1998

Remaining games: Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador

Honduras

Third in CONCACAF (five points behind Costa Rica)

3-1 win over Mexico

Hasn't made a bid since 1982

Remaining games: Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, USA, El Salvador

North Korea

Second in AFC Group B (four points behind South Korea)

1-0 win over Saudi Arabia

Hasn't made a bid since 1978

Remaining game: Saudi Arabia

Ranked 106th in the world by FIFA/Coca-Cola

Hungary

Second in Group One of UEFA (three points behind Denmark)

0-0 tie with Denmark

Hasn't made a bid since 1986

Remaining games: Sweden, Portugal x2, Denmark

Slovakia

First in Group Three of UEFA

2-1 wins over Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland

Has never made a bid

Remaining games: Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Poland

Northern Ireland

Second in Group Three of UEFA (two points behind Slovakia)

3-2 win over Poland, 0-0 tie with Czech Republic

Hasn't made a bid since 1986

Remaining games: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic

 

Will our 2010 FIFA World Cup have a drastically different look than it has in many years?

We can count on Africa to give us something we haven't seen before.  But how will Europe play out, and will North Korea win its final game? 

Only time will tell, but as we wait and watch, one can only wonder what these surprises might do to the future of international football.

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