Friday, March 27, 2009

Road to 2010 Continues


Big games abound in 2010 World Cup qualifying this weekend.

Over in Europe, France can't afford to trip up against Lithuania while injury-ravaged champions Italy face a tricky test in Montenegro.

FIFA.com has an excellent primer on this weekend's 20 qualifying matches and the significance of them all …

Over in Asia, eight of the remaining ten teams resume battle, with leaders Australia and South Korea sitting this match day out. Good time for some of their rivals to make up ground.

Big games? How about Japan-Bahrain? Japan can go top with a win.

Or how about Saudi Arabia-Iran, a grudge match where more than regional pride is at stake?

We fly over to South America, where Diego Maradona takes the reigns for his beloved Argentina against Venezuela and Brazil square off against rivals Ecuador.

But the big game involves current South American leaders Paraguay, who travel to Uruguay, currently 5th in the table. FIFA.com says:

Despite a comfortable cushion at the top of the table, Paraguay will be taking nothing for granted at Montevideo's mythical Estadio Centenario, where Oscar Tabarez's dangerous Uruguay side await them. The Celeste, currently fifth in the ten-team group, will be optimistic about their chances having top-scored so far in this campaign. The Albirroja, for their part, have the second-best defence in the group and will be hoping to add to their impressive points tally and close in on qualification.

This will be the sides' tenth meeting in this competition, with Paraguay boasting seven wins to their neighbour's two. The Guaraníes will have their work cut out to extend that sequence this Saturday, however, given the Charrúas have not lost at home since a 3-1 defeat by Peru on 1 June 2004.

More? Please check out Fifa.com's impressive South American preview.

Now let's swing north to North America, where the United States faces off against El Salvador and Sven-Goren Eriksson's Mexico meets Costa Rica. Is Eriksson, the former England manager, feeling the heat?

Oceania doesn't get much press now that Australia's moved to the Asia zone of qualifying.
Oceania's qualifying is over. New Zealand won the Oceanian Zone qualifying section and will now play-off against the side who finish fifth in Asian Zone for a place at South Africa 2010.

For information on African qualifying, please see the next post ...

2010 is getting ever closer. Can you feel the excitement?!?

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