Getting in the zone: How the teams stack up

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

EUROPE

Germany, as hosts, Ukraine, Netherlands, Poland, England, Croatia, Italy, Norway and Portugal already have qualified. Three more will qualify today.

Interestingly, France, the 1998 World Cup champ, is still on the bubble.

France plays a relatively easy opponent, Cyprus, today but its fate may rest in the hands of the Irish.

If Ireland beats Switzerland, France will qualify. If Switzerland beats Ireland, then France will only qualify if it beats Cyprus by three more goals than Switzerland's winning margin. The aforementioned Russians also still have an outside shot at a berth as well.

Once today's games are complete, a playoff round will be organized pitting the other six second-place finishers against each other. From that pool of six, three more qualifiers will emerge.

AFRICA

Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Tunisia all join Togo. This year's Africa list is notable for who is not on it: South Africa, Cameroon, Tunisia and Senegal, who made it to the quarter-finals in 2002.

People in Cameroon were so upset that Pierre Wome, who rattled a penalty kick off the bar that cost his team a place in the finals, has received death threats.

"(The fans) wanted to, and could have, killed me," said Wome, whose family is now under police protection.

ASIA

Japan, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have all been home and cooled out since June, when the Asian qualifying was completed. Uzbekhistan and Bahrain are currently in a playoff to see who will face Trinidad and Tobago for one of the final berths.

NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA

USA and Mexico had previously qualified easily.

Costa Rica defeated the United States 1-0 a few days ago to wrap up the other spot.

Trinidad finished fourth to earn a chance in the repechage against the Asian survivor.

SOUTH AMERICA

No surprises here. Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay are all ticketed to Germany.

The fifth-place team -- Uruguay, Colombia or Chile -- still has a chance if it can beat the Oceania representative, Australia, in the playoff.

OCEANIA

Australia is the powerhouse here, but it will have its hands full against the South American fifth-place team.


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