We are in the final stages of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with some of the tournament favourites already qualified. With Brazil already qualified as the host country, Argentina and Chile join them. Chile will hope that the finals being held in South America will lend a helping hand at the tournament, and it will be interesting to see how stars such as Juventus’ Arturo Vidal and Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez rise to the occasion. Argentina qualified top of their group with 32 points including 9 victories. Uruguay are on course to join the other South American teams after a first leg win against Jordan, scoring 5 unanswered goals including a sublime free kick from Edinson Cavani. With Uruguay’s great performance of fourth place in the 2010’s finals in South Africa, a place in Brazil next year will surely provide football fans great entertainment. If past tournament history is taken into account, these teams will most likely make it into the second round of the competition.
New Zealand was hoping to book a 2nd consecutive place at the finals but will need to defeat Mexico in the second leg of their playoff match by 5 goals, making qualification unlikely. Mexico had a tough qualification round, losing out to Costa Rica and Honduras for 2nd and 3rd place in their group, with USA coming out on top and making it to another World Cup Finals Tournament.
The usual suspects from the continent of Asia have qualified, with Australia, Japan and Korea Republic all automatically qualified. Iran has qualified for the first time since 2006, and will hope to build on their impressive qualification performance in Brazil.
Just 2 spots out of a possible 5 have been decided in the African qualification stages, with Côte d’Ivoire making it to their 3rd consecutive World Cup Finals and Nigeria becoming the first out of the African teams to qualify. 6 teams are still vying for a place at the finals with playoffs underway. Burkina Faso are hoping to make it to their first finals, and hold a slim advantage over Algeria in the playoffs. Ghana is all but qualified after a 6:1 routing of Egypt in the first leg of their playoff. Things remain tentative between Cameroon and Tunisia, with a goalless draw in the first leg setting up an important second leg to confirm the last available place in the finals.
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s stunning qualification performance earned them their first place at a FIFA competition. Scoring 30 goals and conceding just 6, Bosnia-Herzegovina could provide an entertaining spectacle at next year’s finals. Former winners of the competition Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and England all automatically qualified having won their groups, with Belgium, Russia and Switzerland also qualified.
4 places remain undecided, with 8 teams hoping to book their place on Tuesday 19th November. France have a tough 2nd leg, trying to overcome a 2-0 defeat by Ukraine, while Portugal hope to maintain their momentum from their 1-0 win against Sweden in Lisbon to qualify. A showdown waits between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Ibrahimovic’s Sweden in Solna on Tuesday night. Greece proved a tough match against Romania, beating them 3-1 at home. Romania will need to dig deep during the 2nd leg in Bucharest if they hope to qualify. Croatia remains favourites to qualify against playoff opponents Iceland, but both sides remain equal after a 0-0 first leg.
With Brazil 2014 fast approaching, the finals look to be an exciting prospect with most tournament regulars having qualified as well as some spirited newcomers hoping to entertain on the world stage next year.