World Cup Qualification produces many unforgettable moments- the passion, quality of play and tension is similar to what you will see at the tournament itself. As the road to Brazil 2014 Fifa world cup takes center stage this weekend. Let’s recount some of the sizzling qualification matches over the years.
Algeria 1 Vs Egypt 0, 2009
Egypt came into this qualifying series as reigning African Champions having won the AFCON Cup twice in a row. So, no one expected that they would have faced any stiff opposition in a group that comprised of Algeria, Zambia and Rwanda. Let alone miss out on the fiesta.
After the first two matches they lay bottom of their group with a solitary point. However, they fought back as champions winning all four of their remaining matches including their final match against Algeria in Cairo, where they scored a goal in the last minute of stoppage time to tie Algeria as group leaders both on points and goal difference.
The stage was set for a play-off match in Sudan to determine which of the two teams would pick the sole ticket to South Africa 2010. Algeria took the lead through a thunderous strike (no goal keeper would save that shot) from Antar Yahia and held on despite incessant pressure from Egypt. Algeria made it to the World Cup after a 26 year absence while Egypt were left licking their wounds as they missed out on another opportunity to make it to their first ever world cup.
France 1 Vs 1 Ireland (Agg: 2:1), 2009
Both teams came into this game having finished second in their respective groups. France won the first leg in Dublin by a solitary goal despite been outplayed by the Irish. The return fixture in Paris was expected to be a roller coaster for the French, but it wasn’t. Ireland played with so much passion and intensity and deservedly took the lead in the 33rd minute after a clever play between Robbie Keane and Damian Duff step up the former to fire past Llorris in goal.
Ireland Had control of the game and had chances to score 4 more goals. They were made to pay for their missed chances after Thierry Henry handled the ball twice in the Irish 18 yard box before setting up Williams Gallas in the first half of extra time. Henry later came out and admitted he had handled the ball. By then the damage had already been done- Ireland didn’t qualify after a playoff match they were by far the better team. It took a while people the media stopped talking about the incident.
Wales 1 Vs 1 Scotland, 1985
Scotland and Wales squared up in Cardiff in the final qualifying match for Mexico 1986. The game was marred by the death of legendary Scottish manager, Jock Stein moments before the final whistle. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, which was what Scotland needed to secure a playoff against Australia.