Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 3 January 2008

World Cup 2010 Update (January 2007)

Time now to bring you up-to-date with another of our special monthly World Cup 2010 Updates. They're 'special' because we publish them roughly every six weeks or so, and they don't come more monthly than that.

Anyway, if we're honest there's not a whole lot to report on as proceedings wound down for the Christmas break after our last message. That said, there were a few things to tell you about.

In Asia, we were working our way through Round 2 of five and it's here that we're whittling our way down to the teams who stand at least half a chance of reaching South Africa in 889 days' time.

Since we last posted a report, Round 2 has ended with the completion of the four two-leg knock-out games. The second leg results and their subsequent aggregate scores were as follows:

Tajikistan 1-1 Singapore (agg. 1-3)
Syria 7-0 Indonesia (agg. 11-1)
Thailand 1-0 Yemen (agg. 2-1)
Turkmenistan 3-0 Hong Kong (agg. 3-0)

So the teams in bold go through to Round 3 which begins next month and this is where it gets rather interesting. There'll be five groups of four teams and the top two go through to Round 4. Here's how the groups were drawn out last month:

Group A: Australia, China, Iraq, Qatar
Group B: Japan, Bahrain, Oman, Thailand
Group C: North Korea, South Korea, Jordan, Turkmenistan
Group D: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Singapore
Group E: Iran, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Syria

More news of that next month (or in six weeks - whichever's sooner).

Into Oceania now and New Zealand continued their march towards an inevitable play-off with the fifth-best team from Asia thanks to a 4-1 win over Vanuatu. That result means The 'All Whites' now top the qualification group with a maximum nine points but elsewhere, New Caledonia secured their first win of the competition, 4-0 over Fiji, so they go second in the group.

The competition now goes into hibernation until June when matches resume. There you can expect New Zealand to play host to third-placed Fiji and New Caledonia to travel to Vanuatu.

Following our previous update, Round 1 in the Africa section came to an end when Sierra Leone and Madagascar won their two-legged play-offs, so now it's time to hit the snooze button until May when Round 2 kicks-off. (That'll be because the African Nations Cup gets underway soon, but you knew that, didn't you?)

In North and Central America, Round 1 begins next month, but don't expect to see the likes of Mexico, the United States or Canada just yet - they come in during Round 2 in the latter part of this year.

With Europe's finest not due to take to the field until around the same time, it just leaves us to tell you about South America where things have become rather unpredictable.

Top of the table last time out were Argentina, but they've now been replaced by Paraguay who notched up a couple of impressive wins against bottom-half opposition. Argentina slipped up when they lost 2-1 to fourth-placed Colombia on November 20th 2007. Admittedly it's the only one of their four games they've dropped points in so far, but it shows already that they're not invincible.

Brazil make up the top four with a 'won two, drawn two' record that's a slight concern given that one of those two draws was against Peru, currently eighth of the nine teams.

Two shocks to report on at this early stage involve Venezuela who currently tail the front runners in fifth and 2006 World Cup attendees Ecuador, languishing down in seventh. Ecuador have only won one of their four games so far and have already lost to the Venezuelans early in the competition.

Completing the set-up are Uruguay, down in sixth and also with only one win to their name, and Bolivia - at the bottom and one of only two teams (the other being Peru) that are yet to win a match.

So that's it for now. We hope you feel fully briefed once again. We'll be back soon with another update where we'll be going CONCACAF Crazy, so make sure to join us for that!

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