Joy and Sadness

Heartbreak in Costa Rica, elation in Honduras. Up 2-0 against the run of play, Costa Rica lost concentration and, in injury time, allowed USA a much deserved equalizer in a match dedicated to Charlie Davies, the US player who was seriously injured in a car crash a few days ago and will most likely miss the World Cup. Bitter sweet night for the gringos, as USA and Milan central defender Onyewu tore the patellar tendon in his left knee and will be out 3-4 months. The news caused a furious reaction from Milan president Galliani, who immediately angled for compensation despite the fact that Onyewu has hardly played in a Milan shirt and would have had little chance of cracking the starting line-up. In El Salvador, Honduras accomplished the mission by taking three points, Carlos Pavon this time the hero. Honduras thus clinched the final automatic spot for the first time since 1982.

If there was any doubt as to whether Chile would show up for its match against Ecuador, having already clinched its World Cup place last Saturday, it took less than 15 minutes for all parties interested to be assured that Chile had indeed come to play. Under the command of their strict Argentine coach Bielsa, who spent 90 minutes intensely pacing the sideline, Chile missed a number of great chances before finally breaking through in the second half. Ecuador exited from World Cup qualification campaign with something to build on, but the Ecuadorian people will ponder for a loooong time the dramatic 2-1 injury time loss at home to Uruguay last Saturday when their fate was flipped in less than a minute.

In Europe, Slovakia and Switzerland clinched direct passage to South Africa. The 8 second place teams that will now prepare for the play-offs are: Portugal, Bosnia, Ireland, Ukraine, Slovenia, Greece, Russia and France. The play-offs will be played over two legs on 14 and 18 November 2009. The draw for these matches will be conducted on Monday 19 October 2009 in the home of FIFA in Zurich.