Friday, November 13, 2009

World Cup play-off matches

The last entries for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will be decided this week, and there are some very interesting encounters.
In Europe, FIFA changed the rules on seeding teams shortly before the play-off draw, giving the "big" teams a better chance at qualifying. The power of money and politics, but hopefully the underdogs can manage some upset in some of the following European play-off matches:
  • Portugal-Bosnia Herzegovina
  • France-Ireland
  • Greece-Ukraine
  • Russia-Slovenia
In Wellington, New Zealand will be taking on Bahrain in the second leg of the Asia-Oceania play-off match. The first leg ended 0-0 and the Kiwis are now looking towards their second World Cup participation, their first being in 1982.

In San José, Costa Rica will be playing the two-times world champions of Uruguay in the first leg of the CONCACAF-South America play-off match. The South Americans are probably looking for a good result before receiving the Costa Ricans in Montevideo. However, Uruguay has been known to underestimate visiting teams before, something that missed them their qualification in 2006.

Finally, the last African teams will be decided: In the CAF group A, Cameroon and Gabon will fight for the first spot in their away matches against Morocco and Togo respectively. Cameroon is currently leading the group by one point.
Tunisia is leading CAF group 2 by two points ahead of Nigeria. The Nigerians will be playing Kenya away, and must win, but a the same time must hope that Tunisia does not defeat Mozambique in Maputo.
Perhaps the most thrilling encounter of all will take place in Cairo, where the two North African giants Egypt and Algeria will be clashing in CAF group C. The first match in Algiers ended 3-1 for Algeria, so Egypt needs to win by more than two goals to qualify for the World Cup. In case of a victory by two, the teams will be completely equal on the table, and a play-off match will take place then. But be sure that the Algerians will fight for the first spot in the intimidating atmosphere of Cairo! This match is PG-13!

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