The race to Brazil

Posted by Dale Johnson

The top three nations in the final group stage qualify directly for the finals, with the fourth-place team facing a two-legged playoff against New Zealand.

The UNITED STATES and COSTA RICA booked the first two places from the region last month, and Honduras took a huge stride to the finals as Jerry Bengtson's goal earned a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday.

That win maintained Honduras' three point lead over Mexico after El Tri earned a 2-1 win over Panama, meaning Panama can only qualify via a playoff place.

Panama need Mexico to lose the next match and would then most likely take the playoff place with a win on goals scored at least. A win for Mexico against Costa Rica and defeat for Honduras could give El Tri the automatic qualification, but they will finish in fourth place and face New Zealand if they grab at least a point. If Panama and Mexico were to finish with identical records, then Mexico would be in the playoffs on the head-to-head rule.

The final day of qualifying sees Honduras go to bottom-of-the-table Jamaica, Mexico travel to Costa Rica and Panama host United States.


The top four nations qualify automatically from the region, and the fifth-place team plays Jordan in a two-legged playoff.

Last month ARGENTINA ensured they will make the short trip to Brazil next summer last month.

Chile looked certain to book their place in Brazil as they led 3-0 in Colombia with 24 minutes to go. But after Carlos Carmona was sent off the home side recovered to snatch a 3-3 draw thanks to two penalties from Radamael Falcao. That point means COLOMBIA became the second nation to qualify from South America.

Jefferson Montero scored the only goal of the game as Ecudaor claimed a crucial home win over Uruguay. Chile and Ecudaor -- who meet each other on Tuesday -- now have 25 points, and are three points ahead of Uruguay. That means if they play out a draw on the final day both will be through.
Uruguay's only hope of an automatic place is if they win at home to Argentina on Tuesday and there is a loser between Chile and Ecuador. Uruguay would need a five goal swing with Chile because Chile have scored more goals, or a six goal swing with Ecudaor. Both appear unlikely.
Venezuela could only draw 1-1 at home to Paraguay which ended their slim hopes of reaching the playoffs.

The African qualifying playoffs will be played over the next month, starting on Saturday, with the five winners of the two-legged ties advancing to Brazil. First leg scores shown below.

Burkina Faso 3-2 Algeria
Ivory Coast 3-1 Senegal
Ethiopia 1-2 Nigeria
Tunisia 0-0 Cameroon
Ghana 6-1 Egypt


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