Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 21 February 2008

World Cup 2010 Update (February 2007)

Time to switch on the FIFA radar once again as we search for all the latest action taking place around the globe in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

In this bulletin, we've got news from Asia and North & Central America so let's begin by saying that most of the continental sections are currently either enjoying a rest period or waiting to get going in earnest, thereby leaving just the two we've mentioned.

In South America, play has come to a temporary close with Paraguay leading the round-robin group. Games restart in June, so we'll quietly draw the curtains on them for a while. Similarly in Africa, qualifying matches resume in May, although they've not had much of a rest due to the African Cup of Nations which ended recently. Matches in Europe kick-off on August 20th and in the Oceania section, New Zealand will have to wait until June before they almost certainly seal their place in the play-off with the fifth-best team from Asia.

So now you know all that, let's begin with the latest news from North and Central America. Here, it's Round 1 and the way it works is that the weaker teams play each other in a bunch of two-legged games, the winners of which go through to the second stage where they'll meet one of the big boys like the USA, Mexico or Costa Rica.

In the most recent First Leg games that took place earlier this month, El Salvador grabbed the headlines by whipping their opponents, Anguilla, 12-0 at home. El Salvador, FIFA's highest ranked team out of those competing in this first stage, can already plan for their Stage 2 game against Panama in June, as can Antigua & Barbuda. They beat Aruba, the joint-lowest ranked team in the world, 3-0 away and should be set for a second stage match against Cuba.

Elsewhere, Belize had a good win over St.Kitts and Nevis (3-1) and there were commendable draws for Dominica against Barbados and the Cayman Islands against Bermuda - 1-1 in both cases. The second leg matches take place in a month's time and we'll update you on who did what and which of the big boys they'll be playing against in our next update.

Over to Asia now, and they're currently going through the motions in Round 3 of 5 where there's five groups of four teams of which the winners and runners-up go through to Round 4.

A fortnight ago, all twenty remaining teams played their first games and first out of the blocks were Australia who secured a convincing 3-0 over Qatar thanks to a series of first-half goals from Joshua Kennedy, Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano.

They go top of Group 1 ahead of China and Iraq who drew 1-1, while in Group 2 Japan lead the way thanks to a 4-1 win over Thailand. Bahrain were the other winners in the group, beating Oman 1-0.

In Group 3, it was a good day for the Koreas as the team from the South beat Turkmenistan 4-0 while the team from the North enjoyed a 1-0 win over Jordan. Group 4 sees Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan predictably lead the way after the former beat Singapore 2-0 and the latter beat Lebanon 1-0. Finally in Group 5, the United Arab Emirates were the only winners as they beat Kuwait 1-0 while Iran and Syria played out a 1-1 draw.

The next round of games comes at the end of March and there are some interesting contests to keep an eye open for. In Group A, China play hosts to Australia, Group 3 will see a historic meeting of North and South Korea and in Group 4 Saudi Arabia travel to Uzbekistan.

Want to know how those games pan out, along with all the other qualifying action going on during March? Stick with us here at SPAOTP and we'll tell you all you need to know...

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