Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 16 October 2007

While we're on the subject of qualifiers…

…I found out this weekend that the World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign was underway. Does that not strike you as remarkable? Here we are barely 15 months on from the end of the 2006 finals and already the next campaign is off and running. I'd barely thrown away my Texaco World Cup coin collection (incomplete and featuring duplicates of David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand) when I heard the news.

What's even stranger is that this weekend wasn't the start of the qualifying competition - just the start of the South American and African section. Over in Asia, matches started last week and in Oceania (a region which sounds like something out of a J.M. Barrie novel that no-one ever refers to by name in the area) they've been playing since August. Two months ago.

It's given us a bit of a wake-up call in no uncertain times as it does of course mean we've got to cover the event from start to finish. So here goes then - for your delight and delectation, this is the story so far in the 2010 World Cup qualifying competition:

OCEANIA
So back we go to Samoa where this whole sorry affair started with the 2007 South Pacific Games - a competition which acted as the first round of qualifying for the Oceania section. Ten teams competed and the three that qualified for round two were Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. They'll join New Zealand in a group of four which in itself is a competition with its own title - the OFC Nations Cup. Never let it be said that the Oceanians don't have a sense of occasion…

Among the more eye-opening results in round one were the Solomon Islands beating American Samoa 12-1, Fiji beating Tuvalu 16-0 and Vanuatu handing out a 15-0 thrashing of their own to American Samoa. Donations to the American Samoan Football Federation can be made after this article…

So anyway, a series of two-legged matches will ensue in round two and the top two will play off for the right to play the fifth-best team in the Asian section. With Australia now out of the equation, put your money on New Zealand to be that team…

SOUTH AMERICA
First out of the traps this weekend were Uruguay who put five past Bolivia, so they lead the single qualification group at this early stage. In hot pursuit are Argentina following their 2-0 win over Chile, and Venezuela who earned a commendable 1-0 away win against Ecuador. In other action, Peru and Paraguay drew 0-0 as did Colombia and Brazil.

Playing today are Venezuela and Argentina, while the pick of the games tomorrow feature Uruguay playing Paraguay and Brazil playing Ecuador.

ASIA
Round one in Asia started last week and here you'll find a whole bunch of home-and-away ties featuring many of the lesser lights in the area alongside some of the big names from this year's Asian Cup.

Out of the games that have been played so far, Thailand have already played both legs against Macau, winning 13-2 on aggregate while the United Arab Emirates squeezed through with a 1-0 win in Vietnam and Uzbekistan thrashed Chinese Taipei 9-0 in their respective first legs.

More games follow throughout October including Asian champions Iraq playing Pakistan and China playing Myanmar. Watch this space to find out more…

AFRICA
Just one game has been played so far in the African section. Madagascar beat Comoros 6-2 thereby setting the ball rolling (so to speak) on the first round where the first heap of chaff will be deprived of its wheat.

The big guns enter the fray well off into the future in the next round, but in round one Sierra Leone will need to fend off the attentions of Guinea-Bissau, so it's not all hum-drum this early on, oh no.

And that's about all for now - join us again in a month's time where we'll have another update for you. Thank us later if you like...

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