Friday, June 5, 2009

South America World Cup
qualifiers Carry Most Intrigue

Looks like the most interesting World Cup qualifiers this weekend may be in South America.

To refresh, Paraguay leads the group with 24 points, three points up on Brazil. Chile has 20 points in third, Argentina in fourth with 19, Uruguay fifth with 17. The top four qualify for South Africa.

Uruguay, behind Diego Forlan, can make a big leap toward the 2010 finals tomorrow when it hosts Brazil. For what it's worth, Brazil has never won in Uruguay. Brazil coach Dunga has walked a tightrope for his job during qualifying and has to deal not only with the pressure of qualifying, but Kaka's reported transfer from Milan to Madrid. Uruguay has scored 21 goals in 12 qualifying matches and has conceded the fewest number of goals.

Paraguay, meanwhile, hosts Chile in a battle between first and third place. The leaders are without four regulars, including Roque Santa Cruz and Jonatan Santana, but nonetheless, a win essentially puts Paraguay into the finals.

Speaking of coaches on the edge, Portugal boss Carlos Queiros should get the boot if the 2006 World Cup semifinalists do anything but bash Albania. Portugal has not won in four matches, and has not scored in three, and trails Denmark and Hungary by seven points. Portugal needs some help from Sweden which hosts Denmark. Portugal, Sweden and Albania have six points in Group 1.

England, meanwhile, can wrap up its group for all intents and purposes, with a win over Kazakhstan.

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