South American World Cup Qualifiers: A Look At The Current Qualification Situation

Our South American expert, Marek Robert, takes a look back at the weekend’s matches in the region and the current qualification situation.

So we’re into the final round of fixtures for the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers for Brazil 2014 and there are still a few places up for grabs. With Argentina and Colombia having already qualified, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay fight it out for the last two automatic qualification places, each hoping to avoid the possibility of a fifth place playoff against Jordan.

Argentina cruised through their World Cup qualifying campaign, only losing once in the process, with a 1-0 defeat to Venezuela all the way back in October 2011. La Albiceleste recorded a routine victory over the already eliminated Peru on Saturday night, winning 3-1 in Buenos Aires with Ezequiel Lavezzi netting a first half double and Rodrigo Palacio scoring after the interval. Under coach Alejandro Sabella, Argentina seem to have found the right formula and he seems to be able to get the best out of Lionel Messi in an Argentina shirt, something that none of the previous coaches have been able to do.  Argentina will be one of the favourites for next summer’s World Cup and winning international footballs most prestigious trophy in the back yard of one of their most hated rivals, would stand alongside their 1986 triumph in Mexico.

TABLE 

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

 Argentina

15

9

5

1

33

12

+21

32

 Colombia

15

8

3

4

25

12

+13

27

 Ecuador

15

7

4

4

19

14

+5

25

 Chile

15

8

1

6

27

24

+3

25

 Uruguay

15

6

4

5

22

23

−1

22

 Venezuela

16

5

5

6

14

20

−6

20

 Peru

15

4

2

9

16

25

−9

14

 Paraguay

15

3

3

9

16

29

−13

12

 Bolivia

15

2

5

8

16

29

−13

11

 

Columbian Comeback

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Friday night’s match in Barranquilla between Colombia and Chile produced one of the most memorable World Cup qualifiers I have ever seen.  A dazzling opening 30 minutes from Chile saw the visitors take a 3-0 lead, with Alexis Sanchez scoring a brace and Arturo Vidal netting from the spot.  With the Chileans leading 3-0 at the break, Colombia who only needed a point to qualify for Brazil were in danger of having their party spoiled.

However, a tremendous second half display from the Colombians saw them claw themselves back to earn an incredible 3-3 draw, with Radamel Falcao scoring a double and Teofilo Gutierrez scoring the other. That sensational comeback from Los Cafeteros has secured them their first appearance at a World Cup since France 98 and Colombia coach Jose Pekerman was ecstatic with his side’s second half display;

“I was surprised by what happened to us,” Pekerman told reporters after full-time. “It could have been due the pressure accumulated over a long time. I’m very proud of my team, I’ve rarely seen a national team in this kind of match come back from 3-0 down.”

The Argentinian coach was clearly as relieved as his players and their fans. In what was a gritty performance from the hosts, Pekerman went on to say;

“We knew beforehand this would be one of the best games of the qualifying round because of the two teams and how they’ve been playing. And we saw that, we saw it was exactly that.

“We also knew that both teams were capable of doing damage. Today we had two halves – one was absolutely Chile’s. And the other was undoubtedly Colombia’s.”

                             

“I’ll repeat: I am proud of this team and what the team did. It’s very difficult in football to have these two things: to have players with talent, good players, and to have this rebellious attitude and to get such a result, facing it head on. It’s marvellous.”

After a draw, that must almost feel like a defeat for Chile, a similar result at home to Ecuador on Wednesday morning would be enough to guarantee automatic qualification for their ninth World Cup.

Paraguayan Party Poopers

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Venezuela’s slim hopes of making their first ever World Cup were dashed after they drew 1-1 at home to Paraguay.  The home side dominated proceedings but went behind after Paraguay’s Edgar Benitez opened the scoring just before the half hour mark. La Vinotinto managed to equalise through Luis Manuel Seijas just before the final whistle but ultimately it wasn’t enough. A disappointed Venezuela coach Cesar Farias stated after the game;

“There’s a bitter aftertaste when one tries to achieve something and it slips away by very little.”

Ecuador all but sealed their qualification for next year’s World Cup with an excellent 1-0 victory over Uruguay in Quitos. The Ecuadorian’s produced a dominant display over the much fancied Uruguayan’s, with former Villarreal winger Jefferson Montero scoring the only goal of the game.  That victory leaves La Tri needing only a draw against Chile to seal qualification.

To qualify automatically, Uruguay now must beat Argentina in Montevideo on Wednesday and hope that there is a victor between Chile and Ecuador in Santiago. In all probability Uruguay will have to qualify through a playoff match against Asia’s playoff contestants Jordan but this is not a position that Uruguay are unfamiliar with.

Los Charrúas had to qualify for South Africa 2010 through a playoff match against Costa Rica and went on to be the most successful South American side at the tournament proper, finishing 4th overall.  Despite a stuttering campaign, the Uruguayans are expected to qualify and should be a force in next years World Cup.

Matchday 18 – Wednesday 16th October

Slide1Who will grab the final qualifying positions? Is Columbia’s comeback the best ever? Comment below or tweet us @90minutecynic

You can follow Marek on Twitter: @Don_Fulcio


Marek’s two biggest passions in life are football and music. A big fan of European and South American football, he particularly follows the Spanish, Italian and South American leagues. His favourite European teams are Celtic and Barcelona and in the Americas he follows Colo Colo and Boca Juniors. Outside of football he is a vinyl junkie, film nerd, and a lazy left-winger. (politically).


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