Four Asian nations miss World Cup registration

A new record number of teams have entered the preliminary qualifying stages for the 19th FIFA World Cup, which takes place in South Africa in 2010. Including the host country, 204 national associations have submitted entries to the tournament, five more than the previous record set for the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan. According to FIFA there are now 207 member associations of the world football fraternity although this number is expected to rise to 208 provided Montenegro's application to become a member is approved at the FIFA Congress in May.

Surprisingly, the only football associations not to submit entries to the flagship competition are the Asian Football Confederation-affiliated Philippines, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam and Laos.

Asia has four guaranteed places at the next World Cup. However the fifth-best Asian team will meet the winner of the Oceania Football Confederations' qualifying tournament, the South Pacific Games, in a play-off for a further place in the finals.