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Serie A season preview: Inter Milan

Inter Milan about an hour ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 16, 2005

2006 FIFA World Cup™

32 nations have booked a place in the finals. The qualifying nations are:

World Cup 2006
Angola Argentina Australia Brazil
Costa Rica Croatia Czech Republic Ecuador
England France Germany Ghana
Iran Italy Ivory Coast Japan
Mexico Netherlands Paraguay Poland
Portugal Saudi Arabia Serbia & Montenegro Spain
South Korea Sweden Switzerland Togo
Trinidad & Tobago Tunisia Ukraine United States

Once again there will be 32 teams in the finals - here's how qualification was achieved.

EUROPE

The 51 European nations - Germany qualified as hosts - were split into eight groups.

The winners of each group qualified automatically for the finals, along with the best two second placed teams. The remaining six runners-up faced a two-legged play-off.

Fixtures, Results and Tables:
• Group One | Group Two | Group Three | Group Four
• Group Five | Group Six | Group Seven | Group Eight

• Overall Final Standings

• Results: 2004
August 18 | September 4 | September 8 | October 9 | October 13 | November 17

• Results: 2005
February 9 | March 26 | March 30 | June 4 | June 8 | August 17 | September 3
September 7 | October 8 | October 12

• The three play-offs were played on November 12 and 16.

SOUTH AMERICA

The ten South American countries entered qualifying on a normal league basis, playing each other home and away over two years.

The top four nations qualified automatically for the finals. Uruguay face a two-legged play-off with Australia in order to make it to Germany.

Results
2003: Sept 6/7 | Sept 9/10 | Nov 15/16 | Nov 18/19
2004: Mar 30/31 | June 1/2 | June 5/6 | September 4/5 | October 9/10 | October 12-14 | November 17
2005: March 26/27 | March 29/30 | June 4/5 | June 7/8 | September 3/4 | October 8/9 | October 12

•  Full Conmebol results and final standings

•  Uruguay/Australia play-off was played on November 12 and 16.

CENTRAL/NORTH AMERICA

There were three automatic places and one play-off place available.

As usual, Concacaf came up with a convoluted and complicated qualifying process. Teams reached the semi-final stage by competing in knockout rounds:

• Concacaf first stage, first round results plus explanation of qualifying process
• First stage, second round results

The semi-final stage was completed in November 2004, with 12 nations in three groups of four. The top two teams advanced.

SEMI-FINAL STAGE:
•  Group One | Group Two | Group Three | Full tables
• Results: August 18 | September 4/5 | September 8 | October 6 | October 9/10
October 13 | November 13 | November 17

The final stage featured one group, with the top three teams going to Germany 2006. The fourth place team, Trinidad & Tobago, face a play-off place against a nation from Asia, Bahrain.

•  Click here for the full fixture list for the final stage of qualifying
• Final Stage Results: February 9 | March 26 | March 27 | March 30 | June 4 | June 8 | August 17 | September 3 | September 7 | October 8 | October 12

•  Trinidad & Tobago/Bahrain play-off was played on November 12 and 16.

AFRICA

African qualifying began in October 2003, when 42 nations faced a two-legged qualifying tie. The winners joined Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia in the second round.

• First Round results

The remaining nations were drawn into five groups of six teams. The winners of these five groups qualified for the finals.

font class="Features">Full results and final standings:
• 
Group One | Group Two | Group Three | Group Four | Group Five | All tables

ASIA

The six winners from the premlininary round, plus the highest FIFA-ranked loser, advanced to the First Round of the qualifying competition, involving 32-teams. The nations were drawn into eight groups of four teams.

• Preliminary Round results
• First Round tables and group fixtures/results

The winners of each group moved on to the Final Stage, whereby the eight remaining nations are drawn into two groups of four. The top two teams in each group advanced while the third placed sides faced a play-off. The winner of that match, Bahrain, is to play a Concacaf side, Trinidad & Tobago, for a spot in the finals.

• Results and standings: Group A | Group B | Final Stage tables

• Asian Play-off: Uzbekistan v Bahrain

The first match was made void due to a technical error by the referee. Uzbekistan won the first match, but the rematch finished 1-1 and Bahrain triumphed.

•  Bahrain/Trinidad & Tobago play-off was played on November 12 and 16.

OCEANIA

The First Round took place in May 2004, when the ten minor nations were split into two groups of five. The top two countries from each group advanced to the Second Round.

Those four nations joined Australia and New Zealand in one group. The overall winner of this final group, Australia, faced a play-off against the runner up, Solomon Islands, for the right to enter a play-off with the fifth-placed South American nation. Australia cruised through to the final play-off.

• First Round Results/Fixtures: Group One | Group Two
• Second stage final standings and results

• Australia v Soloman Islands: Oceania Play-off

•  Australia/Uruguay play-off was played on November 12 and 16.