Sunday, June 7, 2009

World Cup Soccer Saturday

I watched on CNN that there was World Cup Qualification action yesterday all across the world.

With the new rule that only the hosts get automatic qualification (this case being South Africa), stakes get a little bit higher. Let's see where things place themselves.

CONMEBOL (South America): 4 automatic spots with 5th placer squaring off with 4th placer of CONCACAF.

Top Four: Brazil and Paraguay tied with 24 pts, Chile is 3rd and Argentina is 4th with 22.
5th Place: Uruguay is 5pts back from Argentina, with Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia at their heels.

Oceania: Due to its relative weakness vis-a-vis the other regions, the winner will have to face off with the 5th place team in Asia.

New Zealand won the group, so it will await its playoff opponent.

CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean): 3 automatic berths await the top 3 teams, with the 4th placed team facing off against the 5th placer of the CONMEBOL.

Top 3: Costa Rica and the US pacing the group, with El Salvador (5pts) holding on to 3rd place by 1 pt.
4th place: Honduras is barely holding on with 4 pts while still in contention for the final automatic spot. Chasing both teams are Mexico (3pts) and Trinidad and Tobago (2 pts).

AFC (Asia): 4 automatic spots will be awarded to the top two teams on each group, with the third-place squads squaring off to have the right to play the Oceania Zone Winner (New Zealand)

Group A: Japan and Australia are guaranteed automatic spots with 2 games to play. Bahrain (7pts) has a slight lead over Qatar (5pts) and Uzbekistan (4pts) for 3rd, but has a game in hand over both teams.

Group B: South Korea (14pts) has a slight edge over North Korea (11 pts) and Saudi Arabia (10 pts). Iran (7 pts) has an outside chance, but would need some help.

UEFA (Europe): All team subdivided into 9 groups, with group winners securing qualification. The 8 best 2nd place teams go into a home-and-home playoff, with the winners securing qualification.

Group 1: Denmark is pacing with 16 pts and Hungary attempting to restore its greatness from the early Fifties in second with 13 pts. Portugal is third with 9 pts, but Sweden has a game in hand and has 6 pts.

Group 2: Greece and Switzerland tied with 13 pts. Latvia is 3pts back and Israel, a pt behind Latvia.

Group 3: Slovakia (15pts) has a 2 pt lead over Northern Ireland with a game in hand. Poland is 3rd with 10 pts as the Czech Republic and Slovenia trail by 2 pts.

Group 4: Germany (16 pts) has a 4 pt lead over Russia and a 6 pt lead over Finland, but both trailing teams have a game in hand over the Germans. Wales has 9 pts, but has played 7 games already.

Group 5: Spain is looking good with 18 pts. The Euro Champs are leading Bosnia-Hercegovina by 6. Turkey is in far third with only 8 pts, a pt ahead of Belgium.

Group 6: England pacing the group with 18 pts, 5 ahead of Croatia. Belarus (9 pts) and Ukraine (8 pts) have a game ahead of the Croats.

Group 7: Serbia (15 pts) has a 5 pt edge over France but the French has a game in hand over the Serbs and two games in hand over Lithuania (9 pts). Romania and Austria have 7 pts each.

Group 8: Italy is leading Ireland by a point (14 to 13), but the defending champs have a game in hand. Bulgaria has 8 pts in third place.

Group 9: The Dutch looking to secure automatic qualification with 18 pts. Scotland is in far second with only 7.

Africa: 5 automatic spots will be rewarded to the 5 group winners. South Africa, being the host, already has secured an automatic spot. The current World Cup qualifying also serves as a qualifier for the African Cup of Nations.

NOTE: This is still early as teams have either gotten 1 or games so far in this double round robin format.

Group A: Gabon already has 6 pts. Togo has 3 pts, with Morocco and Cameroon still scoreless.

Group B: Tunisia has 6 pts, with Nigeria and Mozambique having a pt and Kenya still scoreless.

Group C: Zambia has 4 pts, with Egypt, Algeria and Rwanda each garnering a pt.

Group D: Ghana has 3 pts, with Mali and Sudan owning a pt. Benin still scoreless.

Group E: Burkina Faso has 6 pts, with Cote D'Ivoire 3 pts and both Guinea and Malawi still scoreless.

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