Italy out of Confederations Cup | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 21.06.2009
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Sports

Italy out of Confederations Cup

Italy is out of Soccer's Confederations Cup series in South Africa, while Spain has been thrust into the spotlight. The US qualifies for the semi-finals and hosts South Africa also make into the top four.

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South Africa's Kagisho Dikgacoi vies with Spain's David Villa at Bloemfontein

At the Confederations Cup soccer series, Spain takes on Egypt at Wednesday's semi-final in Bloemfontein. And, host South Africa will face Brazil in the other semi-final in Johannesburg on Thursday.

South Africa's hopes of remaining among the final four were kept alive by New Zealand in Johannesburg. The Kiwis 0-0 draw on Saturday left Asian champions Iraq trailing at fourth place in Group A. For New Zealand it was its first-ever point in a FIFA senior men's competition. Captain Tim Brown acknowledged South African support among the crowd.

"Even if their reasons were a bit ulterior, it was still great to have them behind us."

The Spaniards' victory over hosts in Bloemfontein, with two second-half goals from David Villa and substitute Fernando Llorente, handed Spain a new world record of 15 successive international wins. The team of Coach Vicente del Bosque also extended its unbeaten run, equalling Brazil's stash of 35 games without defeat.

Man of the match, Xavi, said Spain was "very proud" of the record.

On Sunday, the US rousted Egypt 3-0 in Rustenberg to win their first match and a spot in the semi-finals after Brazil beat Italy 3-0 in the other Group B Match.

Südafrika gegen den Irak beim Eröffnungsspiel des Confederations-Cups

Iraq's Nashat Akram tussles with South Africa's Siboniso Gaxa last Sunday

South African coach Joel Santana said his team's performance, although brittle in defence, still left him "very happy."

"This experience is crucial for the World Cup. Bafana Bafana have qualified. It's good for the people, good for the players, and good for our World Cup preparations."

For South Africa it is the first time it has emerged from a group stage at a FIFA competition. Previously it had fallen at the group stages of two World Cups and at the 1997 Confederations Cup.

Iraq's departure was sad for its fans, said Iraqi midfielder Neshat Akram.

"They had a lot of hope in us. We had many chances. We could not score, but that happens in football."

The Iraqis and New Zealanders celebrated the draw by posing for a combined team photo. New Zealand coach Rickie Herbert said he wished South Africa all the best. "They've been wonderful hosts."

The Confederations Cup final and third-place play-off are slated for next Sunday.

ipj/dpa/Reuters/AFP

Editor: Nigel Tandy

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