Big Saturday's Winners & Losers

[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] One of the most dramatic days of World Cup qualifying sent three more teams to the finals: Nigeria, Cameroon and New Zealand. Saturday's action produced plenty of winners and losers ...

WINNERS

NICOLAS ANELKA. The 30-year-old Chelsea player is one of the stars of a golden generation of French strikers along with Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, but he has never been to the World Cup. That could change as he was the hero with the lone goal in the Bleus' 1-0 win at Ireland Saturday in the first leg of their European playoff series.

NIGERIA. The Super Eagles missed out on the 2006 World Cup in Germany and almost missed out again, but they rallied to win, 3-2, at Kenya on Obefami Martins' second goal of the game in the 83rd minute. Nigeria needed to beat Kenya and hope Tunisia's Eagles of Carthage didn't win at Mozambique. Nigeria trailed well into the second half, went ahead 2-1 on goals by Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Martins, but Kenya tied the score at 2-2 in the 79th minute. The Nigeria and Tunisia games were both decided in the 83rd minute when Martins scored for Nigeria and Tunisia fell, 1-0 on Dario's goal for Mozambique.

CAMEROON. The Lions qualified for an African record sixth time with a 2-0 at Morocco on a pair of goals by Gervinho. They failed to qualify for Germany '06 and were at one point in last place in their final-round group. A pair of wins over Gabon turned the tide in September.

MARK BASTON. The New Zealand goalie became an instant soccer legend Down Under when he saved Sayed Mohamed Adnan's penalty kick and preserved the All Whites' 1-0 win over Bahrain early Saturday that sent them to the World Cup for the first time since 1982, but he didn't like the accolades. "I'm a bit uncomfortable with that sort of talk," the 32-year-old keeper.

DINIYAR BILYALETDINOV. The Everton midfielder had the goal of the day, sending two defenders one way and turning the other to fire a goal in Russia's 2-1 won over Slovenia.

LOSERS

BOSNIA. No team had worse luck on Saturday than the Bosnians. They hit the woodwork three times -- twice on the same sequence -- and fell at Portugal, 1-0, in the first leg of their European series.

COSTA RICA.
Just a month ago, they were seconds away from qualifying for the World Cup, but now the Ticos' dream of returning to the finals for the third straight time appears to be all but over. The 1-0 loss to Uruguay at the estadio Saprissa leaves them needing a win at Montevideo on Wednesday to advance.

 

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