The draw for the European Zone 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying play-offs took place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich today. The following pairings have been drawn by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and South Africa star Steven Pienaar.
Numbering among the high-ranking officials from the eight participating nations following the draw with interest were national coaches Carlos Queiroz (Portugal), Matjaz Kek (Slovenia), Miroslav Blazevic (Bosnia Herzegovina) and Alexei Mikhailichenko (Ukraine), plus former France boss and current French FA Technical Director Gerard Houllier.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter welcomed the delegates. "It might only be two games, but the stakes are high," he said. "I wish good luck to everyone."
The top four nations in the draw were seeded according to the latest edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, published on 16 October. France (ranked number 9), Portugal (10), Russia (12) and Greece (16) were placed in Pot 1 and were drawn with the teams in Pot 2, Ukraine (22), Republic of Ireland (34), Bosnia Herzegovina (42) and Slovenia (49).
However, the ranking positions of the unseeded teams does not necessarily reflect their current form, as all four nations have claimed the runners-up spots in their groups with impressive and courageous qualifying campaigns, eliminating big-name former FIFA World Cup contenders such as Croatia, Czech Republic and Sweden along the way.
Pienaar said after helping to make the draw that it was high-scoring Bosnia-Herzegovina's duel with the star-studded Portuguese that excited him most. "I'm looking foward to that one, it will be an exciting pairing," said the Everton midfielder. "I wish all eight teams all the best and look forward to seeing the winners in South Africa."
The team scoring more goals on aggregate wins the play-off. If the scores are level on aggregate, away goals count double. If the teams are level on away goals, or if both matches end goalless, extra-time of two periods of 15 minutes each will be played at the end of the second match. If the score is level after extra time, penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner.
The winners of the four play-offs qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.