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Brazil and Ghana aim to clinch
by Paul Kennedy, September 4th, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa moves into the home stretch with the second-to-last Saturday-Wednesday fixtures in Europe and South America. For a look at how things stand in all the continental groups and the weekend's television viewing schedule ...

CONCACAF. Costa Rica leads the group but is coming off a 4-0 loss to Honduras. A loss or tie to surging Mexico at Saprissa Stadium would complicate the Ticos' chances of returning the World Cup finals for the third straight time.

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Costa Rica 6 4 0 2 9 9 12
Honduras 6 3 1 2 10 6 10
USA 6 3 1 2 11 8 10
Mexico 6 3 0 3 8 9 9
El Salvador 6 1 2 3 6 8 5
Trin. & Tobago 6 1 2 3 7 11 5
Schedule:
Saturday-USA vs. El Salvador (ESPN Classic, TeleFutura, live, 8 pm ET)
Saturday- Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Online PPV, live, 9 pm ET)
Saturday-Costa Rica vs. Mexico (Telemundo, live, 10 pm ET).

EUROPE. The Netherlands is the only team in Europe to have clinched a berth at the 2010 World Cup. No team can join the Oranje in the finals on Saturday, but several groups could be decided on Wednesday. Many other teams are trying to hang on for a shot at second place. The top eight runners-up (out of nine groups) will advance to playoffs in November when four berths will be up for grabs.

GROUP 1. Portugal, fourth at the 2006 World Cup, is in danger of missing out on the 2010 finals and will probably have to beat Denmark to have any chance of even finishing second. Denmark, which didn't qualify for the 2002 World Cup, will clinch a berth with wins over Portugal on Saturday and second-place Hungary on Wednesday, The Hungarians, who haven't reached the finals in 24 years, are well placed to finish second.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Denmark 6 5 1 0 13 2 16
Hungary 6 4 1 1 8 2 13
Portugal 6 2 3 1 8 4 9
Sweden 6 2 3 1 6 2 9
Albania 8 1 3 4 4 8 6
Malta 8 0 1 7 0 21 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Denmark vs. Portugal (Setanta Sports USA, live, 1:55 pm ET)
Saturday- Hungary vs. Sweden

GROUP 2. Switzerland hosts Greece in a top-of-the-table clash in Basel on Saturday. Latvia or Israel could challenge if Switzerland or Greece falters.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Greece 6 4 1 1 12 4 13
Switzerland 6 4 1 1 11 6 13
Latvia 6 3 1 2 10 6 10
Israel 6 2 3 1 10 8 9
Luxembourg 6 1 1 4 3 13 4
Moldova 6 0 1 5 2 11 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Switzerland vs. Greece (Setanta Sports USA, delay, 4 pm ET)
Saturday-Moldova vs. Luxembourg (Online PPV, live, 1 pm ET)
Saturday- Israel  vs. Latvia

GROUP 3. Slovakia hosts the Czech Republic in a key clash. In a reversal of usual form, Slovakia is in the driver's seat with a two-point lead on Northern Ireland and a game in hand, while the Czechs, fifth with four games to play, are a long shot to qualify.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Slovakia 6 5 0 1 17 6 15
No. Ireland 7 4 1 2 12 6 13
Slovenia 7 3 2 2 10 4 11
Poland 6 3 1 2 18 7 10
Czech Rep. 6 2 2 2 6 4 8
San Marino 8 0 0 8 1 37 0
Schedule:
Saturday-Slovakia vs. Czech Republic (Online PPV, live, 2:30 pm ET)
Saturday-Poland vs. Northern Ireland

GROUP 4. Germany has six wins and a tie in seven games but still may not clinch a berth if it beats Azerbaijan (scoreless in six games) in Hanover next Wednesday. The group will most likely be decided in Moscow on Oct. 10 when Russia hosts Germany.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Germany 7 6 1 0 20 4 19
Russia 6 5 0 1 12 3 15
Finland 6 3 1 2 8 10 10
Wales 7 3 0 4 5 7 9
Azerbaijan 6 0 1 5 0 7 1
Liechtenstein 6 0 1 5 1 15 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Azerbaijan vs. Finland (Online PPV, live, 11 am ET)
Saturday- Russia vs. Liechtenstein (Online PPV, live, 12 pm ET)

GROUP 5. European champion Spain will qualify if it wins its home games against Belgium and Estonia, and Bosnia fails to beat Armenia and Turkey. With U.S. product Vedad Ibisevic and a host of other young stars, second-place Bosnia is aiming to qualify for the World Cup for the first time.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Spain 6 6 0 0 13 2 18
Bosnia  6 4 0 2 18 7 12
Turkey 6 2 2 2 6 5 8
Belgium 6 2 1 3 10 11 7
Estonia 6 1 2 3 5 15 5
Armenia 6 0 1 5 3 15 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Spain vs. Belgium (Gol TV, live, 4 pm ET)
Saturday-Armenia vs. Bosnia (Online PPV, live, 12 pm ET)
Saturday-Turkey vs. Estonia (Online PPV, live, 2 pm ET; Setanta Sports USA, delay, 5:45 pm ET)

GROUP 6. England can clinch first place with a win over Croatia at Wembley on Wednesday. Two years ago, a 3-2 loss at home to Croatia knocked the English out of Euro '08. The Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham is with England, which faces Slovenia in a friendly on Saturday.
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
England 7 7 0 0 26 4 21
Croatia 7 4 2 1 15 7 14
Ukraine 6 3 2 1 9 6 11
Belarus 6 3 0 3 15 10 9
Kazakhstan 7 1 0 6 7 22 3
Andorra 7 0 0 7 2 25 0
Schedule:
Saturday-Ukraine vs. Andorra (Online PPV, live, 10 am ET)
Saturday-Croatia vs. Belarus (Online PPV, live, 2:30 pm ET)

GROUP 7. Struggling France needs to beat Romania at the Stade de France to remain in striking distance of leader Serbia.

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Serbia 7 6 0 1 15 5 18
France 6 4 1 1 8 6 13
Lithuania 7 3 0 4 6 6 9
Austria 6 2 1 3 7 9 7
Romania 6 2 1 3 7 10 7
Faeroe Islands 6 0 1 5 1 8 1
Schedule:
Saturday-France vs. Romania (Online PPV, live, 3 pm ET)
Saturday- Austria vs. Faeroe Islands

GROUP 8. Italy coach Marcello Lippi called up eight players from Juventus for the Azzurri's match against Georgia, and a ninth Juve player, Brazilian-born striker Amauri is waiting for an Italian passport so he can join the team soon. Second-place Ireland is also on the road, facing a tricky match at Cyprus.

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Italy 6 4 2 0 9 3 14
Ireland 7 3 4 0 8 5 13
Bulgaria 6 1 5 0 6 4 8
Cyprus 6 1 2 3 6 9 5
Montenegro 6 0 4 2 5 8 4
Georgia 7 0 3 4 4 9 3
Schedule:
Saturday-Georgia vs. Italy (Online PPV, live, 2 pm ET; Fox Soccer Channel, delay, 5 pm ET)
Saturday-Bulgaria vs. Montenegro
Saturday-Cyprus vs. Ireland

GROUP 9. The Netherlands has already clinched a berth in the World Cup finals. The Macedonia-Scotland match will go a long way toward determining who finishes second.

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
*Netherlands 7 7 0 0 16 2 21
Macedonia 6 2 1 3 4 7 7
Scotland 6 2 1 3 4 10 7
Norway 6 1 3 2 6 5 6
Iceland 7 1 1 5 6 12 4
*Clinched berth in World Cup.
Schedule:
Saturday-Scotland vs. Macedonia (Gol TV, live, 10 am ET)
Saturday-Iceland vs. Norway

SOUTH AMERICA. Brazil can become the first South American team to clinch a berth in the finals if it beats Argentina and Ecuador loses at Colombia and Uruguay doesn't win at Peru. A loss to Brazil would put Argentina in danger of falling below fourth place. Only the top four South American teams are assured berths in the World Cup.

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Brazil 14 7 6 1 25 6 27
Chile 14 8 2 4 23 14 26
Paraguay 14 7 3 4 20 13 24
Argentina 14 6 4 4 19 15 22
Ecuador 14 5 5 4 18 20 20
Uruguay 14 4 6 4 23 16 18
Colombia 14 4 5 5 7 11 17
Venezuela 14 5 2 7 17 24 17
Bolivia 14 3 3 8 19 30 12
Peru 14 1 4 9 7 29 7
Schedule:
Saturday-Colombia vs. Ecuador (Online PPV, live, 4:30 pm ET)
Saturday-Peru vs. Uruguay (Online PPV, live, 4:30 pm ET)
Saturday-Paraguay vs. Bolivia (ESPN Deportes, live, 6:25 pm ET)
Saturday-Argentina vs. Brazil (Online PPV, live, 8:30 pm ET)
Saturday-Chile vs. Venezuela (Online PPV, live, 9:30 pm ET)

AFRICA. Ghana can become the first African team to clinch a berth in the World Cup finals if it beats Sudan and Mali (with former Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare) and Benin play to a tie. Cameroon, which is in danger of missing out on its second straight World Cup after qualifying for four in a row, must win at Gabon to stay in contention. Perhaps the best match of the weekend will take place in Abuja, where Nigeria hosts Tunisia and will overtake the first-place Eagles of Carthage with a win in their Group B clash.

Group A

Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Gabon 2 2 0 0 5 1 6
Togo 3 1 1 1 1 3 4
Morocco 3 0 2 1 1 2 2
Cameroon 2 0 1 1 0 1 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Gabon vs. Cameroon
Sunday-Togo  vs. Morocco

Group B
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Tunisia 3 2 1 0 4 1 7
Nigeria 3 1 2 0 3 0 5
Kenya 3 1 0 2 3 6 3
Mozambique 3 0 1 2 1 4 1
Schedule:
Sunday-Mozambique vs. Kenya
Sunday-Nigeria vs. Tunisia

Group C
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Algeria 3 2 1 0 5 1 7
Egypt 3 1 1 1 5 4 4
Zambia 3 1 1 1 2 3 4
Rwanda 3 0 1 2 0 4 1
Schedule:
Saturday-Rwanda vs. Egypt
Sunday- Algeria vs. Zambia

Group D
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Ghana 3 3 0 0 5 0 9
Mali 3 1 1 1 4 4 4
Benin 3 1 0 2 2 4 3
Sudan 3 0 1 2 1 4 1
Schedule:
Sunday-Benin vs. Mali
Sunday-Ghana  vs. Sudan

Group D
Standings:
TEAM GP W T L GF GA P
Ivory Coast 3 3 0 0 10 3 9
Burkina Faso 3 2 0 1 7 5 6
Guinea 3 1 0 2 5 7 3
Malawi 3 0 0 3 1 8 0
Schedule:
Saturday-Malawi  vs. Guinea
Saturday-Ivory Coast vs. Burkina Faso

ASIA. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia meet in the first leg of their playoff series that will determine the team that will face Oceania champion New Zealand later in the fall for a berth in the World Cup finals.

Schedule:
Saturday-Bahrain vs. Saudi Arabia (Fox Soccer Channel, live, 12:30 pm ET)
Onlive PPV=Omnisport.tv


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