Tie and the Final Spot

Facing a bored and lifeless Brazil team, Bolivia played a superb second half which featured an equalizing goal and numerous near misses. At halftime, coach Ovidio Messa inserted Jose Alfredo Castillo and Daner Pachi which energized the team. A brilliant cross into the box by Pachi found the head of Joaquin Botero who crossed it to a charging Castillo who knocked it home tying the game 1-1. After that, Bolivia continued to attack, but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal. Bolivia plays its final match against Peru in Lima on Wednesday. Once again, defender Ronald Raldes of Rosario Central stood head and shoulders over anyone else on the pitch rendering goalscorer Adriano (Inter Milan) ineffective.

The four teams that I have qualified for the World Cup from the South America region are: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador. The fifth place team faces Australia in a home and away playoff for the right to enter the World Cup competition. Three teams have the possibility of sliding into the final spot. Uruguay is the only team that holds its own destiny. A win gives them enough points to earn that fifth place spot. A tie leaves them open to the possibility of one of the other teams to overtake them. Chile and Colombia must win and hope for a Uruguay loss or tie and a loss by the other team for any shot.

Uruguay – 22 points (home against Argentina)
Colombia – 21 points (away against Paraguay)
Chile – 21 points (home against Ecuador)

Already there are speculations that Argentina may take it easy on Uruguay. In 2001 facing the same scenario, except Uruguay only needed a tie to advance, the two teams tied. Newspaper reports quoted the then-coach of Uruguay of saying that the tie was “set up”, which angered the other teams with similar possibilities of advancing. Both Argentina and Uruguay have denied that any such plan is in place for Wednesday’s match.

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