锘? Another international week means another interesting couple of days of international football. World Cup qualifiers dominate once again on every single continent where the race of the 32 spots is just beginning to heat up. We might not yet be at the business end of the qualifying tournament http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Luis-Robles-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , however every point counts given a long qualifying campaign.
Starting off in the Africa, this weekend sees the continent play their last fixtures of the second round of qualifying. There are 12 groups of 4 teams, although some of these groups have now only got 3 teams in them due to teams withdrawing or being suspended for various reasons. It has become very chaotic which is not uncommon in Africa. In addition, these World Cup qualifers double up as qualifiers for the next African Cup of Nations, which means that South Africa also participates.
Yes http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Lloyd-Sam-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , that right, South Africa, the host of the 2010 World Cup is participating in these qualifiers. This is very bizarre to say the least. I don't think a host country have ever had to participate in World Cup qualifiers.
The group winners as well as 8 best runners-up go through to the Third and Final Round of qualifiying, whose draw will be made on October 24. Most of the big teams look certain to go through, however some of them will have their work cut. Togo must win their final game this weekend to qualify for the final round http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Leo-Stolz-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , as does both Senegal and Ghana.
These countries surely do not want to be seen as having fluked their way to recent World Cups. On a sidenote, South Africa will finish in third place in their group, meaning that they will not qualify for the next African Cup of Nations. This is a disaster for them and God knows how they'll improve before 2010.
Moving on to Asia, the final Round sees all teams playing either their second or third games in qualifying. Every point counts to qualify as the top 2 of each group or finish in 3rd place and go into playoffs. In Group A, Australia will hope to beat Qatar and go top of the group after only 2 games. Uzbekistan travels to Japan http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Kyle-Reynish-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , needing some points in order to keep their hopes of qualification alive.
A Japanese victory would surely make it a real struggle for the Uzbeks to make it to 2010. In Group B, the Korea Republic hosts the UAE hoping to get their win after their opening draw with their northern rivals. North Korea, on the other hand, has a tough away trip to Iran, with Iran needing a win to push them up the table.
Moving on to Europe http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Kemar-Lawrence-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , teams play their 3rd and 4th games of the group stage with some big teams needing some wins after some surprise results in the first 2 fixtures. In Group 1, Portugal hopes to bounce back away to Sweden after their shock home loss against Denmark. In Group 6, Croatia will be hoping to bounce back away to the Ukraine after a capitulation at home against England in the previous fixture.
Group 7 sees France facing a deja vu game against Romania away from home, after falling remarkably to the Austrians in September. It's probably too early to make any more predictions. These next 2 games should give a better indication as to which teams look likely to qualify and fail.
Moving on to CONCACAF, teams play their 4th and 5th games in the Third Round of qualifying. The top two teams of each of the 3 groups move on to the Final Round and 5 of the teams already look certain to go through. The usual suspects are almost there while the only source of drama is whether Guatemala or Trinidad & Tobago will finish second in their group.
There are no qualifiers in Oceania because New Zealand has already won the Oceania Championships meaning that they go through a playoff with the 5th placed team from Asia for a place in the World Cup.
Finally http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Karl-Ouimette-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , arguably the most exciting World Cup qualifying competition, CONMEBOL or South America. There is no region which has a longer and tougher qualifying campaign than South America. Brazilians even say that it is harder to qualify than actually win the World Cup. That gives you an indication of the toughness. Round 9 and Round 10 of a marathon campaign takes place over the next 5 days. Bolivia has 2 homes games against Peru and Uruguay respectively which they must win to have any hope of qualifying, otherwise, they can begin thinking about 2010.
Argentina will want to erase the 2 draws in their previous games which were both surprising and disappointing. Their game against their fierce rival Uruguay will be a highlight this weekend. Brazil will also want to forget their embarrassing draw with Bolivia in September by winning in Venezuela and against the Colombians.
Paraguay will try to capitalise on their lead and move closer to another World Cup appearance while Ecuador will do all it can to remain in contention. This is shaping as a defining 2 rounds in South America and I can't wait.
In about 5 days, we will know a bit more about which teams will be going to South Africa in 2010 and which teams can begin planning for 2014. There's nothing like the tension of World Cup qualifiers and these couple of days should be no different. Let the football begin!
Author's Resource Box
Martin Sejas is the chief writer of http:www.SportsNewsFootball http://www.teamredbullsshop.com/Authentic-Gonzalo-Veron-New-York-Red-Bulls-Jersey/ , a leading sports news football website known for its fearless and critical analysis of the major issues affecting the beloved game of football.
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