Who Will Australia Play In The Play-off?
Early Thursday afternoon (AEST) Australia’s opponent in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off opponent will be determined, after the final night of the South American qualifiers is complete. In line to face Australia are three teams, Uruguay (22 points), plus Colombia and Chile, both on 21 points.
Early Thursday afternoon (AEST) Australia-s opponent in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off opponent will be determined, after the final night of the South American qualifiers is complete. In line to face Australia are three teams, Uruguay (22 points), plus Colombia and Chile, both on 21 points.
Last weekend saw the four automatic qualifiers decided, leaving the above three teams to battle it out for 5th place and a second chance to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, with a two-legged play-off against Australia next month. Australia-s nemesis of four years ago Uruguay, is in the box seat, although all three have tough matches against teams that have already qualified for the finals. The scenario-s for each to qualify are varied, but no less intriguing, as it-s quite possible that all three teams could finish on 22 points, which then requires some neat mathematical work to figure who will qualify. If this scenario, or say two of the teams finish level on points, does occur, head to head results will firstly decide who finishes in fifth and then goal difference after that. Ironically four years ago the same situation confronted Uruguay, when they needed a point against group leaders Argentina, to qualify as the 5th placed team and a meeting with Australia. They got the point they needed that night, but one would have to think that a point will not be good enough this time around. So the scenario is simple for Uruguay, win and they finish 5th, no matter what the results are of the other two games. However a draw or loss, in all likelihood, will see them miss out, albeit only if Colombia or Chile can secure a win. If held to draw, Uruguay to qualify would need both Colombia and Chile to draw or lose. If Uruguay loses, to qualify, they would need Colombia to lose or Chile to either lose or draw, as the Uruguayans have a better head to head record against Chile (3-2) but not Colombia (3-7). Not helping Uruguay is the fact that Argentina has incentives of their own, and is keen to finish the qualification series as the group winners. To achieve this, they only need to get a result against Uruguay, as a win by Brazil against Venezuela would lift them to the top if the Argentines slipped up in Montevideo. Added to this, is the fact Argentina they have not lost to their near neighbours in 16 years and are yet to win at the Centenario Stadium, a situation they are desperate to end. Colombia and Chile will no doubt be hoping that Argentina can get the job done in Montevideo, as that would greatly lift their chances of grabbing 5th place, provided they can get the results themselves. A loss gives them no chance of qualifying. Both teams will also be hoping that Paraguay and Ecuador still have qualifying hangovers, after they both clinched their places for Germany 2006 last weekend. Quite simply, the Colombians will finish fifth if they win in Asuncion and Uruguay draw or lose. Colombia would also finish ahead of Chile courtesy of a superior goal difference (head to head is tied at 1-1 and +11 in Colombia-s favour going into final round) if the Chileans beat Ecuador. If Colombia draw, they would need Uruguay to lose and hope that Chile don-t win. Colombia though will have to improve markedly on its away record, with only win in its eight matches so far. Paraguay-s last victory at home was against Argentina, which shows they will be not be easy in Asuncion. Of the three teams, Chile has the most winnable game, given Ecuador-s poor away form in the South American qualifiers. Chile, like Ecuador, is extremely hard to beat at home and only lost one match. Ecuador qualified courtesy of its impregnable home record at altitude, but away from home it only had one win against lowly Bolivia (at altitude) and a draw with Peru, who is battling it out for last place with Bolivia. Ecuador have little to play for and will also be missing several key players for clash against a Chilean side that kept their hopes alive with a terrific second half performance against Colombia last Saturday. However for Chile to qualify they must win and hope that Uruguay and Colombia either draw or lose. If all three teams are to finish on 22 points, then Colombia would ranked first, Uruguay would rank second and Chile third. SBS will show live coverage of the Uruguay and Argentina game from 10.15am (kick-off 10.30am) on Thursday morning.
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