The axe fell in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone after the last round of qualifying. Costa Rica, one of twelve surviving sides, have a new man at the helm while Panama were quick to dismiss their Tico boss after they crashed out to El Salvador.

Hernan Medford was one of the most notable coaching casualties after the last round of CONCACAF qualifying. Despite Costa Rica moving on to the first group stage, the laboured nature of their 5-2 aggregate win over island minnows Grenada meant the end of the road for the one-time star striker. Former U-23 boss Rodrigo Kenton is the man picked to take over the hot seat and lead the Central Americans into the groups.

"At last I'm free," Medford sighed after his sacking, indicating a toxic atmosphere. The Ticos, who have qualified for the last two FIFA World Cups™, struggled to get past a Jason Roberts-led Grenada, drawing 2-2 in the first leg before securing passage 3-0 in San Jose.

New man Kenton, a former player with local giants Deportivo Saprissa and Puntarenas, has coaching stints with Herediano and Alajuelense on his CV as well as an assistant's role with Nigeria at France 1998. He will be responsible for leading the Ticos in a tricky group that also includes unknown quantities Suriname, surprise package El Salvador and Caribbean champions Haiti, who only just managed to scrape by the Netherlands Antilles in the last round.

Panama's elimination at the hands of Mexican Carlos de los Cobos' resurgent Salvadorans spelled the end of the road for Alexandre Guimaraes. After losing the second leg at the Cuscatlan in San Salvador, the Brazilian-born tactician and former Costa Rica boss was promptly given his marching orders by the country's FA. The early elimination was a startling blow for the country's supporters, who only three years ago were celebrating a runner-up finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Trinidad and Tobago boss Francisco Maturana managed to avoid the axe, but is under heavy pressure to improve upon the performance of his Soca Warriors in the last round, where they barely edged Bermuda after losing 2-1 at home in the first leg in Macoya.

"I am the coach and I take full responsibility for the way the team played against Bermuda," the former Colombia boss said. "There is a problem scoring goals for us at the moment," added Maturana, who is expected to be without injured Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones for the start of their group campaign in late August. "I'm of the philosophy that goals come as a result of good play and goals are the end game, it means we need to start playing better."

Change will come in the Mexico technical area as interim boss Jesus 'Chucho' Ramirez makes way for high-profile Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson. Unveiled last month, Eriksson will officially take control of the team for the much-discussed Group Two, which includes a dizzying array of obstacles in the form of Honduras, a Rene Simoes-led Jamaica and a much-improved Canada, looking in good form since the hiring of former international and youth boss Dale Mitchell.

After comfortably disposing of Barbados, USA are the fancied team in Group One, where they will take on Guatemala - coached by Honduran mastermind Ramon Maradiaga - T&T and Cuba, led by German coach Reinhold Fanz.

The first group stage of CONCACAF qualifying for South Africa 2010 begins in August of 2008 with the top two finishers from each group moving on to a final group of six.