South American (CONMEBOL) World Cup Qualification (Part 1)
The CONMEBOL (CONfederación SudaMEricana de FútBOL) continental federation consists of all ten nations in South America. World Cup qualification is achieved after all teams play each other in home and away matches with results and goals being totaled in a league format.
Four teams will directly qualify for the World Cup 2014 along with hosts Brazil. The fifth placed team at the end of group matches will have to play in an intercontinental play off against a qualifier from Asia (likelihood being Iran, Qatar or Iraq).
With only 3 or 4 matches played in the qualification group its hard to forecast which teams shall progress. However it’s a safe bet to assume that Uruguay (current leaders and holder of the Copa -America) and Argentina will each claim an automatic place for Brazil.
This leaves 7 teams battling for 2 more automatic places and one play off spot.
Bolivia currently lie last in the qualifying group and if we take their recent form (2 losses but a credible draw in Buenos Aires) together their poor showing in last years Copa America they should not realistically feature in Brazil. Their only slim hope lies with their league side Bolivar who surprisingly qualified for the quarter finals of this year’s Copa Libertadores. If these players carry their club form to a national level they may inflict a surprise or two, especially in the oxygen starved heights of La Paz.
Next are Peru who have recorded two away losses (2-0 vs. Ecuador and 4-2 vs. Chile) and a home win (2-0 vs. Paraguay). Although they lie 2nd bottom Peru may still rocket up the table especially as they a majority of home games left to play.
Despite having an injury depleted side they achieved a highly impressive 3rd place in last years Copa America benefiting from the new tactical vision and experience of Uruguayan coach, Sergio Markarian. Peru can also call on a core of based stars including Jefferson Far Fan and Captain Claudio Pizzaro however their involvement will depend on their relationship with the coach, which has been strained in recent years.
QUALIFICATION CURRENT STANDINGS
Next in the current qualification standings are Paraguay who lie 7th with four points after one home win (2-1 vs. Ecuador), two away losses (2-0 vs Chile and Peru) and one home draw (1-1 vs Uruguay).
Paraguay have consistently qualified for the World Cup since France 1998 and have impressed in the finals twice reaching the quarter finals before being unluckily eliminated. Despite finishing runners up in the Copa America last year their coach, Gerardo Martino opted to resign and passed the reigns onto former player Francisco Chiqui Arce.
La Albirroja (white and red) can boast a forward line including Nelson Valdez, Roque Santa Cruz and Benfica hit man Oscar Cordoza allied to a solid defence and creative midfield. It would be a major surprise if Paraguay did not qualify in some way for Brazil 2014.
to be continued.