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South American qualifying set for dramatic finish

MaradonaPalermoMessi (Reuters)


Wednesday marks the final round of South America's World Cup qualifying action and all eyes will be on the masterpiece of a match in Montevideo, where Uruguay plays host to Argentina in a "battle of life and death," as one top player put it.

The winner seals an automatic berth into the 2010 World Cup, while the loser could left out in the cold.

Meanwhile, Ecuador still has a chance of grabbing the final automatic or playoff spot but only a win in Santiago, Chile will allow them to dream. An Ecuador win and Argentina-Uruguay tie would allow Ecuador to leap-frog Uruguay for the fifth spot and play-in berth that goes with it against either Honduras or Costa Rica (An Ecuador blowout win by six goals or more would help Ecuador leapfrog Argentina, but that seems extremely unlikely). Venezuela, although still mathematically alive, need a miracle to reach at least fifth place.

Here is a preview of Wednesday's matches (all games at 6pm ET except for Peru-Bolivia):


Argentina need at least a draw to secure a berth for South Africa but it won't be easy in the cauldron at the famed Estadio Centenario where Uruguay will have the raucous backing of 67,000 supporters pleading for a victory that will see their squad through. Diego Forlan, who labeled the match as life or death, will be responsible for the Celestes' attack along with young starlet Luis Suarez, both of whom are vastly capable of penetrating the shaky Argentine back-line.

Argentina's last-minute winner against Peru Saturday was ridiculed, with the infamous belly-flopping photo of Maradona the pinnacle of the back-lash. Almost half of the 3,000-allotted tickets for visiting Argentine fans were returned unsold to the Uruguayan federation Tuesday amid the growing resentment by supporters against Maradona, Lionel Messi and company for a lackluster campaign yet still are in the running for automatic qualification.

Juan Sebastian Veron returns to Argentina's lineup to link up with Gonzalo Higuain and Messi in what will most likely be a counterattacking strategy but questions continue to remain about Argentina's defensive group, which could include lanky Argentine league veteran Rolando Schiavi who had some trouble against bottom feeders Peru Saturday.


Ecuador need to win to have any hope of qualifying, something that won't be easy in Chile where the sold-out National Stadium will be a sending-off celebration for the already-qualified Rojos. Chile's Argentine coach, Marcelo Bielsa, may be thinking about his native land, already indicating in several interviews that Argentina need to be at the showcase in Africa next year.

Ecuador will be without Manchester United star Antonio Valencia because of suspension as well as Giovanny Espinoza.


Brazilian manager Dunga recalled Kaka and Luis Fabiano back to the lineup in order to grab three important points to give his side top of the table honors.

Venezuela need to feast on goals against Brazil and hope for other scenarios to fall in place in order to reach the playoff.


PARAGUAY-COLOMBIA: If Brazil somehow loses, Paraguay will want the top spot of the table.

PERU-BOLIVIA: The two bottom teams play for pride but Peru will still end up as the last-place team in this cycle even if it wins.


What did you think of this cycle's qualifiers? Who do you see in the playoff? Will Argentina miss out?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Nestor, the game between Chile and Ecuador was not played at Estadio Nacional, but rather at the Estadio Monumental.

    Roberto, tranquilo, eh? Si lo quieres insultar, cagalo con alguna estadistica de futbol o algo por ese estilo. No hay que bajarse al mismo nivel.

  2. Hincha tim; I’m not saying I like him as a coach cause I don’t. The best coach is bielsa… Ok. I just cannot stand maradona haters (especially americans) the biggest hypocrites and the largest drug consumers in the world. A lot of people here would be embarrased of Bradley doing a belly flip why? It doesn’t look good? To who? south americans although limited in$$&$ are much happier and spontaneous and have better quality of life food etc? Why?because they are not afraid of looking foolish or showing their emotions. We are not always trying to say or look smart like you do and we just simply have more fun. People here grow old and crippled early cause all you worry about is money and retirement. I’m tired of the idiots that post here… You are just jealous cause u will never ever produce a player like diego( and leave his personal life alone) how many of you hippcrites are drug users I wonder?HATERS!!!

  3. just read on Ole that maraDRUGa let his team sleep til noon because there were fireworks and bats and rockts thrown at their hotel.

    glad we don’t have to go through that up here.

  4. i commend the fans of argentina for protesting the poor performances of their national team! it must have been hard to give up dem tickets

  5. Robertino,

    You and Maradumba get none of my respect. He’s a jackass, drug abusing idiot. Yes, he was a great player in his time, but he’s not anymore and he’s an idiot of coach. There are plenty of great Argentine coaches, but he’s not one of them. There’s a reason Boca got rid of Schiavi 3 years ago: he was slow and old. Looks like you’re about the only Gaucho who still likes Maradumba as a coach. So why don’t you go watch polo or something.

  6. Conmebol page currently being attacked by hackers:

    Here’s whats currently on the page in Spanish:

    Les pedimos disculpas por la intermitencia del servicio. Estamos experimentando un incesante ataque a la infraestructura de nuestro portal que estamos resolviendo en estos momentos.
    Esperamos restaurar el servicio lo antes posible.


    English translation:

    We apologize for the intermittent service. We are experiencing a relentless attack on the infrastructure of our portal which we are solving now.
    We hope to restore service as soon as possible.


    Interestingly, Maradona’s page was hacked earlier as well.

  7. Maradona looks horrible in every pic on SBI. ahaa good cuz he’s a horrible coach. looks all drugged out all the time. this pic he looks, well, crazy. very appropriate!

  8. Eric –

    From my understanding its part in boycott against Maradona as national team manager – but I still have trouble understanding it as well.

  9. Im living in Buenos Aires at the moment and cannot begin to explain how intense this game is going to be.

    Posted by: Nick


    I’m sure that’s the case, which is why I can’t understand why nearly half the tickets allotted to Argentine fans went unsold.

  10. Maradona was arguably the best player ever, but he was also a cheat (hand of God) and a thug (his ejection against Brazil in ’82). Natural brilliance on the field does not qualify him to lead a productive post playing life or coach a team, much less deification. His is a classic cautionary tale

  11. Maradona definitely was one of the top players that ever lived… but Argentina made a terrible mistake in selecting him as coach.

    Even if Argentina qualifies, he should be let go.

  12. One more thing hincha tim; that guy you happen to call Maradumba is the best player that ever lived period he is better than all the greats combined and there will never ever be a player better. He is god and he is untouchable so a little more respect!! Did you know diego won a world cup by himself? With a horrible team in 86 or the UEFA and scudetto with an even worse team (Napoli)? Pele certainly didn’t do that with that team he had in the 70 WC hincha tim go and watch baseball better… Or waterpolo

  13. It’s hard to believe that only 16 months ago Argentina came into the Meadowlands to play the US as the #1 ranked team in the world. How is possible that they have fallen so far, so fast? It can’t be only Maradona’s fault.

  14. Hincha tim you are a moron; have you read schiavi’s resume and career at Boca? He may be slow because he’s old but to say he wouldn’t get a sniff at the US team… Cmon! Even at that age he is better than any defender the US ever produced.. You are comparing first world with third world (in futbol that is) vamos Argentina carajo!!

  15. Argentina’s last-minute winner against Peru Saturday was ridiculed because it should have been disallowed. Uruguayans should be hopping mad. If their side gets knocked out as a result, it would be an injustice.

    Outside of the Argentina-Uruguay game, and the two CONCACAF matches that will decide 3rd and 4th place, the match that intrigues me most is Israel-Switzerland. It’s do-or-die for the Israelis…

  16. It’s incredible that Maradumba is relying on Schiavi as a defender. The guy is old and SLOW. He wouldn’t even come close to getting a sniff on the U.S. team.

  17. I thought Maradona’s slide was a disgrace too. Does he think he’s still the star player? Why has Argentina turned it’s national team into a freak show?

  18. “Almost half of the 3,000-allotted tickets for visiting Argentine fans were returned unsold to the Uruguayan federation”

    That’s incredible, considering how easy those should be able to sell…


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