The 2010 FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa between 11 June and 11 July 2010, with 32 teams playing 64 games in ten different venues. The tournament was won by Spain, who took their first world title by beating The Netherlands 3–2 in the final, which was held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
No past, present or future Bristol Rovers players took part in the finals tournament itself, but five Gas men played in the qualifying competition. Vitālijs Astafjevs, Reggie Lambe, Jefferson Louis and Jason Roberts all played for nations who were eliminated from the competition at the qualifying stage, while Junior Agogo's Ghanaian teammates travelled to the tournament without him due to his ongoing recovery from knee surgery.
Five former and future Rovers players were involved in the qualifying competition for the 2010 World Cup: Vitālijs Astafjevs (Latvia), Reggie Lambe (Bermuda), Jefferson Louis (Dominica), Jason Roberts (Grenada) and Junior Agogo (Ghana). Details of their appearances are given below.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualifying for the 2010 World Cup was held over three rounds. The first round consisted of the ten lowest-ranked nations in the confederation playing in five single-elimination matches, held over two legs. Due to the withdrawal of Somalia and Djibouti from the competition, only three of the five ties were actually played.
The second round saw the remaining 48 teams divided into twelve groups of four, with each team playing the other three both home and away. With the twelve group winners plus the eight best runners-up progressing to the third round. The third round was again held as a round-robin competition, consisting of five groups of four teams. The five group winners (Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)) joined hosts and automatic qualifiers South Africa as the confederation's five representatives in the finals.
Ghana entered the qualifying competition at the second round stage, where they were drawn in a group with Gabon, Libya and Lesotho. The Black Stars won all three of their home games without conceding a goal, and although they lost away to Libya and Gabon, their record of four wins and two defeats was enough to win the group on goal difference from Gabon and Libya.
The third round saw them drawn against Benin, Mali and Sudan, and four victories plus a draw at home to Mali and defeat in Benin was enough for them to again top their group and qualify for the tournament in South Africa.
Junior Agogo took part in all six of Ghana's second round matches, but his only appearance in the third round came when he was brought on as an 85th-minute substitute away to Sudan, and he was not included in the 23-man squad that took part in the competition finals.
|1 June 2008||Ghana 3–0 Libya||Junior Agogo scored once & was substituted after 76 minutes|
|8 June 2008||Lesotho 2–3 Ghana||Junior Agogo scored twice, netting the second and third goals of the game to give Ghana a 3-0 lead. Lesotho staged a late comeback, with goals in the 89th and 90th minutes, but it wasn't enough to prevent Ghana from taking the win.|
|14 June 2008||Gabon 2–0 Ghana||This time Junior did not start the game, but he came off the bench in the 53rd minute. For the first time this campaign he failed to find the back of the net.|
|22 June 2008||Ghana 2–0 Gabon||Agogo regained his starting place but failed to score again. He was substituted on 76 minutes.|
|5 September 2008||Libya 1–0 Ghana||Junior Agogo played the full 90 minutes, but Ghana suffered defeat leaving them in danger of not qualifying.|
|11 October 2008||Ghana 3–0 Lesotho||Agogo played and scored to help Ghana win their group and progress to round three.|
|7 June 2009||Mali 0–2 Ghana||Agogo was an unused substitute in this game.|
|20 June 2009||Sudan 0–2 Ghana||Agogo played the final five minutes of this game, replacing goalscorer Matthew Amoah. Ghana qualified for the African Cup of Nations following this game.|
- Summary of Ghana matches featuring Bristol Rovers players
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) qualifying tournament saw 53 nations competing for the thirteen places allocated to the confederation at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.
Qualifying was split into two rounds. The first was a group stage, where the competing teams were split into eight groups of six teams, plus a single group consisting of five teams. The members of each group played each other at home and away, and the nine group winners qualified for the tournament proper.
The group runners up with the eight best qualifying records then went on to the second round, which was a single-elimination competition with each pair of teams facing each other over two legs, at home and away, the four winners progressing to the finals.
The teams that qualified from the European preliminaries were Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain & Switzerland (group winners), and France, Greece, Portugal and Slovenia (second round winners).
The Latvian side were drawn in Group 2 of the UEFA qualifying competition, along with Greece, Israel, Luxembourg, Moldova and Switzerland. Despite winning half of their games, their final record of five wins, two draws and three defeats was only good enough for third place in the table and they were consequently eliminated from the competition.
Latvia were captained throughout the qualifiers by former Rovers man Vitālijs Astafjevs, with the exception of the away match with Greece, when he was suspended due to bookings received in each of the two games against Switzerland. His final tally of two goals, scored against Moldova and Switzerland, made him his country's joint second-highest goalscorer in the 2010 qualifiers.
|6 September 2008||Moldova 1–2 Latvia||Vitālijs Astafjevs played from the start and scored after 22 minutes to help Latvia to the win.|
|10 September 2008||Latvia 0–2 Greece||Astafjevs again played the full 90, but the Latvians suffered defeat to the Euro 2004 winners.|
|11 October 2008||Switzerland 2–1 Latvia||Latvian captain Vitālijs Astafjevs couldn't prevent his team's second defeat in a row, and was also booked.|
|15 October 2008||Latvia 1–1 Israel||Vitālijs played 90 minutes as Latvia went three games without a win.|
|28 March 2009||Luxembourg 0–4 Latvia||Astafjevs won his 152nd cap, and was now the second most capped player in European football history, having overtaken Lothar Matthäus.|
|1 April 2009||Latvia 2–0 Luxembourg||Astafjevs again captained the side and played the full 90 minutes.|
|5 September 2009||Israel 0–1 Latvia||Latvia's third World Cup qualifying win in a row saw Astafjevs pick up his 155th cap.|
|9 September 2009||Latvia 2–2 Switzerland||Astafjevs's 75th-minute goal wasn't enough for Latvia to do the double over eventual group winners Switzerland.|
|14 October 2009||Latvia 3–2 Moldova||Astafjevs' 45th and final World Cup match, and his 157th cap over all, tying with Estonian Martin Reim as the joint most capped European players ever.|
- Summary of Latvia matches featuring Bristol Rovers players
North, Central America & Caribbean (CONCACAF)Edit
The Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifying tournament was contested by 35 teams, who were competing for the 3½ placed awarded to the confederation by FIFA. This meant there were three automatic qualifiers for the finals tournament, while a fourth team would go into an intercontinental playoff with the 5th-placed team from South America.
The first two rounds were both single elimination ties, mostly held over two legs. The 22 lowest ranked teams in the competition entered at the first round stage, the eleven winners progressing to the second round, along with the thirteen teams who had received a bye in the first round.
The twelve second round winners were split into three groups of four teams for a round-robin tournament in round three, then the top two from each of these groups progressed to the fourth round, which consisted of a single group of six teams, who all played each other at home and away. The United States, Mexico and Honduras finished first, second and third respectively in the fourth round and all qualified for the tournament in South Africa. Fourth-placed Costa Rica went into a play-off with South American side Uruguay, but lost 2–1 on aggregate and consequently did not travel.
Bermuda entered the CONCACAF qualifying competition at the first round stage, where they defeated the Cayman Islands 4–2 on aggregate, setting up a second-round tie against Trinidad & Tobago. Things looked good for the Bermudans when they pulled off a 2–1 victory in Trinidad, but the Soca Warriors staged a comeback in the second leg, winning 2–0 to take the tie 3–2 on aggregate and eliminating Bermuda from the tournament.
Future Rovers player Reggie Lambe, who joined The Gas in 2011, made his international debut in the first of the Cayman Islands games aged just sixteen, one day before his 17th birthday. He was brought on as a 64th-minute substitute for Devaun Degraff, and he also went on to make further substitute appearances in Bermuda's next two matches.
He was named on the bench again for the second leg of the Trinidad & Tobago tie, but this time he was not used at any point in the match. His three appearances saw him brought on in the 78th, 64th and 71st minutes, meaning he played a total of just 57 minutes throughout the qualifying campaign.
|3 February 2008||Bermuda 1–1 Cayman Islands||Reggie Lambe come on as a 78th-minute substitute|
|30 March 2008||Cayman Islands 1–3 Bermuda||Lambe again brought on as a sub, this time after 64 minutes|
|15 June 2008||Trinidad & Tobago 1–2 Bermuda||Lambe brought on in the 71st minute|
|22 June 2008||Bermuda 0–2 Trinidad & Tobago||Lambe was an unused substitute for this match|
- Summary of Bermuda matches featuring Bristol Rovers players
|Trinidad & Tobago||1||1||0||0||2||1||1||0|
Dominica fell at the first hurdle in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, eliminated by Barbados in the first round. After drawing the first leg of their tie 1–1 at home, the Dominicans suffered a 1–0 defeat in the second, ending their dreams of qualifying for a World Cup for another four years.
Jefferson Louis, who had a brief spell at Bristol Rovers three years earlier, won his only international cap in the second leg of the tie. He was not included in the squad for the first match, and despite playing the full 90 minutes of the second game he was unable to find the back of the net and help Dominica progress to the second round.
|26 March 2008||Barbados 1–0 Dominica||Jefferson Louis won his first and only international cap in this match.|
- Summary of Dominica matches featuring Bristol Rovers players
Grenada reached the second qualifying round of the 2010 World Cup thanks to a 10–0 thumping of the US Virgin Islands in the opening round of the competition. The match was played over a single leg, rather than the more usual two, because of a lack of FIFA-approved facilities in the Virgin Islands.
The Grenadans were full of hope for a place in the group stages after taking a 2–0 lead against Costa Rica in the first leg of their second round tie, but the Central American side managed to claw back a draw before taking an emphatic 3–0 victory in the second leg, ending Grenada's participation in the tournament.
Former Rovers man Jason Roberts played in all three of Grenada's qualifiers, scoring twice in the rout of the US Virgin Islands and once in the first leg against Costa Rica. The second leg of the Costa Rica tie was Roberts' final international appearance.
|26 March 2008||US Virgin Islands 0–10 Grenada||Jason Roberts scored two goals and was substituted after 75 minutes.|
|14 June 2008||Grenada 2–2 Costa Rica||Jason Roberts again found the back of the net, scoring the second goal of the game to give Grenada a 2-0 lead.|
|21 June 2008||Costa Rica 3–0 Grenada||Jason Roberts played the full 90 minutes but didn't score.|
Byron Bubb, the brother of ex-Gas player Alvin Bubb, also played for Grenada in all three of these games.
- Summary of Grenada matches featuring Bristol Rovers players
|US Virgin Islands||1||1||0||0||10||0||1||2|
No Bristol Rovers players took part in the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. Although Ghana qualified for the tournament, Junior Agogo was not available for selection due to him having undergone surgery on a knee injury.