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Historic Penalty In Apia

The preliminary draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ will take place in Durban on 25 November, but the qualifiers actually started on the tiny Oceanian island of Samoa three months ago. FIFA magazine was there.

Samoa sits some 15,000km from South Africa and is 13 time zones away. It is also 20 hours by plane to this balmy tropical paradise that is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle that will lie in wait when Johannesburg hosts the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
But it was in these gentle surrounds where author Robert Louis Stevenson settled more than a century ago that the long road to South Africa 2010 actually began.
With a record number of entries for the preliminary competition and matches scheduled in almost every corner of the footballing world between now and November 2009, the process of deciding the 31 countries that will join hosts South Africa at the finals has been underway since 25 August 2007 (see “Pierre Wajoka’s premiere”).
There will be close to 100,000 fans jammed into Soccer City in Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, but in Samoa just a couple of hundred spectators witnessed the kick-off of the campaign. They sat in a small grandstand or on a grass verge surrounded by tall coconut trees, a long cry from the slick precision of a World Cup tournament. But nowhere was the universality of the game better illustrated than at the Toleafoa Joseph S. Blatter Complex on the outskirts of Apia as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ became a reality on the pitch.