World Cup qualifying
Trinidad & Tobago earns first berth; four others advance to complete field.
(Wednesday, November 16, 2005) - CONCACAF, the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, will have four teams in the World Cup for the first time.
Trinidad & Tobago got the road victory it needed, traveling to Bahrain and winning 1-0 on an early second-half goal from Dennis Lawrence. T&T earned its first-ever World Cup berth by winning the two-match aggregate-goals series 2-1 after Saturday's first leg in Port-of-Spain ended 1-1.
Lawrence elevated high and headed in a corner kick in the 49th minute to send the Soca Warriors to Germany 2006.
The United States, Mexico and Costa Rica finished 1-2-3 in CONCACAF's final round of qualifying to gain automatic berths. T&T finished fourth and earned the right to face Asia's fifth-place team in the playoff.
The tiny island nation, with a population of slightly less than 1.1 million, will be the smallest of the 32 countries competing next summer in the quadrennial tournament. T&T will be the fourth Caribbean representative in Cup history with Jamaica the last to qualify in 1998. Cuba qualified in 1938, as did Haiti in 1974.
Defender Avery John of Major League Soccer's New England Revolution went the distance for the Soca Warriors, as did former Columbus Crew striker Stern John. Crew striker Cornell Glen was on the T&T bench, but did not play.
Australia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Spain also earned Cup bids today, the final day of qualifying.
Australia shocked Uruguay with a 4-2 victory in a penalty-kicks tiebreaker after the series ended tied 1-1 on aggregate. Australia, which had only once before played in the World Cup, back in 1974, entered today's home game having lost Saturday's first leg 1-0 in Montevideo, but responded by winning today 1-0 on Mark Bresciano's striker in the 35th minute before 82,698 at Telstra Stadium in Sydney.
Switzerland ended a 12-year absence from the Cup although Turkey won today's second leg 4-2 in Istanbul. Switzerland captured the first game 2-0 at home Saturday, tying the series at 4-4 on aggregate with the Swiss advancing on the strength of two road goals to Turkey's none.
Spain will make its eighth straight Cup appearance after going to Slovakia and drawing 1-1. That was good enough for an easy 6-2 aggregate win after Spain won 5-1 Saturday in Madrid..
Tomas Rosicky's goal in the 35th minute gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 decision over Norway today for a 2-0 aggregate victory. The Czechs had not qualified for the World Cup since becoming an independent nation, last appearing as Czechoslovakia in Italy in 1990.
The World Cup field:
Africa (5): Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia.
Asia (4): Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea.
Europe (14): Germany (host), the Czech Republic, England, France, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia-Montenegro, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine.
North America, Central America and Caribbean (4): United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago.
South America (4): Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay.
Oceania (1): Australia.
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