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It all started back on 4th March 2000 - and finally on 25th November 2001 we know which are the 32 countries that will be completing in Korea/Japan in 2002.

As befits a competition of this magnitude, the final qualifying countries in both the South American and CONCACAF Confederations were not know until the final whistle of their qualification matches were played.

CONMEBOL Confederation

The claim to be the unluckiest country could go to Colombia who after playing 18 matches failed to qualify for the play-off against Australia by a goal difference of just 1 goal.

Despite winning 4-0 in Paraguay and 3-1 at home to Chile they were beaten to the play-off spot by Uruguay who drew both their last matches against Ecuador and Argentina 1-1.

Argentina, who won at home to Peru and finished top of the group by a clear 12 points, but only 4 points separated the second qualifier Ecuador from Colombia in 6th place.

Paraguay failed in their final matches losing to both Venezuela 3-1 and Colombia, and slipped to fourth spot on the same number of points as Brazil who lost in Bolivia 3 - 1 but ended Venezuela's good run by beating them 4 - 0 at home.

Chile and Ecuador and Peru and Bolivia drew their final matches.

Uruguay moved on to the play-offs and overcame Australia 3-1 following a 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Melbourne. This means that the Oceania Confederation has no representative at the Finals in Korea/Japan.

CONCACAF Confederation

Following last month's surprise results, just one place remained available from this month's matches and Mexico duly claimed the spot with a 3-0 home win against Honduras.

Costa Rica won the group by 4 points following their 1-0 win in Jamaica, but the United States could only finish 3rd after being held to a 0-0 draw in Trinidad & Tobago.

UEFA (European) Confederation

With 9 places already taken following the group matches, 5 play-off matches took place during November.

The most convincing victors were Turkey who overcame Austria by an aggregate of 6-0 having won the away leg by a single goal.

Belgium also managed to win both legs by a score line of 1-0 to put Czech Republic out of the competition and Germany, having been held to a 1-1 draw in Ukraine, won the second leg 4-1 to go through fairly easily.

Slovenia held on for a 1-1 draw in Romania and so went through on a 3-2 aggregate following their home victory.

The Irish Republic took a 2-0 lead to the second leg in Iran and held out until the 90th minute when a late goal was not enough to prevent the Irish Republic from going through.

So now we know the final 32 countries taking part and congratulations should go to China PR, Ecuador, Senegal and Slovenia who will all be making their first appearance in the finals.

Brazil scraped through to maintain their 100% appearance record but the most notable country missing must be The Netherlands who failed to qualify from the tough UEFA Group 2.

The draw takes place on 1st December and then we have 6 months to wait for the big kick-off in Seoul on Friday 31st May 2002.