We can be Asia, says Warner

Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

CONCACAF [illegible] FIFA World Cup finals, with the Confederation's fourth place qualifier now playing [illegible] coveted spot.

"We can beat Asia," Warner said [illegible] over the prospect of a fourth CONCACAF team in Germany's 2006 World Cup Finals.

Trinidadian Warner had led the fight for an outright fourth place for CONCACAF but said, "Plainly there was a lot of pressure from the other Confederations too, as for now, we will have to be content with that chance for our fourth team to qualify whereas before there was none."

CONCACAF officials pointed to comparisons of quality between Honduras, which finished fourth in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and Iran, which was the fifth team from Asia to reach the finals in Korea/Japan. "We don't think there is any doubt that Honduras would have been in Japan and Korea alongside Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA," President Warner said. Along with CONCACAF, the only other Confederation to gain a place for the 2006 FIFA World Cup was the Oceania Football Confederation, which now has a direct berth for its top qualifier.

The top OFC team was forced to playoff against the fifth-place team from the Confederation Sudamericana de Futbol (CONMEBOL) for 2002, a home and away tie that resulted in Uruguay eliminating Australia 3-1 on aggregate after the Australians had won the first leg 1-0 in Melbourne. Europe and South America each lost a chance to send an additional team to the World Cup through a playoff.

Europe has been awarded 13 places and South America four. There was no change for Asia, which has four spots plus a possible team through a playoff. Africa will again have five spots.

And contrary to previous World Cups, only the hosts—in this case—Germany will automatically qualify.

In compliance with a decision passed by the FIFA Executive Committee in Busan on 30 November 2001, defending champions Brazil will be required to qualify in the South American preliminaries.