This week sees the welcome return of World Cup qualifiers. Matches take place on Wednesday 12th August in several European groups and in the North, Central America and Caribbean group.
In Group 3 Slovenia take on San Marino in Maribor. This match has no relevance to anyone except statisticians who gather stats about San Marino games. Can they become the first team ever to concede 723 goals in a qualifying group?
Azerbaijan face Germany in a Group 4 clash in Baku. Then they reconvene in Germany next month before the three-time winners glide into the finals as ‘one of those teams you’ve got to watch’. Probably because they get to play the likes of goalless and guileless Azerbaijan twice in four weeks.
Minsk is the venue for the Group 6 encounter between Belarus and Croatia. Anything less than a win for the Croatians and England qualify as group winners. Tee-hee.
Here’s an odd coincidence. France take on the Faroe Islands twice in a month. No matter; the big one in Group 7 is the match between Serbia and France in Belgrade on September 9th.
In Europe the 8 best group runners-up go into a home and away play-off. Any guesses what the winners of the Group 9 game between Norway and Scotland are playing for?
North, Central America and Caribbean
This group has three automatic finals places. The fourth placed team goes into a play-off with the fifth placed team in the South American group.
Mexico - USA in Mexico City
Mexico have only ever lost one qualifying game at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. This probably won’t lift the spirits of a USA team which the Mexicans recently trounced 5 – 0.
Honduras - Costa Rica in San Pedro Sula
Two more wins will probably be enough for Costa Rica to qualify outright. Their penultimate game is at home against Trinidad and Tobago, who are doing their best to end the group with whatever the opposite of a flourish is.
Trinidad and Tobago - El Salvador in Port of Spain
The whipping boys of the group. One might steal fourth place but only if the teams above them decide to holiday together in the Bermuda Triangle.
Get the results as the games end this week at World Cup Bafana Bafana 2010.