The seemingly endless cycle of South American qualifiers is back underway and, believe it or not, it’s finally approaching the final stages. After Tuesday’s fixtures are completed, no team will have more than six fixtures remaining. There should be a clearer picture as to what nations will reach Brazil 2014 and what nations will miss out.
Not surprisingly, Argentina’s lethal offence has the country leading the supergrupo. With 23 goals in 10 matches and the best goal difference on the continent, a win away to Bolivia on Tuesday would give La Albiceleste a total of 26 points, a number many believe is already good enough to qualify them for next year’s World Cup.
And if there’s one team that’s making a lot of noise in the region, it’s Colombia. After a sketchy start that included a draw at home to Venezuela followed up by a 2-1 home loss to Argentina, Los Cafeteros are on a four-game winning streak that has seen them tear apart Uruguay 4-0, snatch an important 3-1 away win against Chile, and humiliate Bolivia 5-0 last Friday. Some believe Colombia’s current crop of players is the best generation of players their national team has ever had.
Against this backdrop, there is a third team whose campaign is also in cruise control and who is quietly sitting in third place in South American qualifying: Ecuador. Read the rest of this entry »
Both teams pleaded with referee Joel Aguilar to keep the match going. At least that’s what the commentators on the ESPN broadcast led us to believe. While it did look as though the visitors did want to continue as they began to carry play in the second half, apparently, that wasn’t the case.
Ten minutes into the second half, Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto wanted referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador and match commissioner Victor Daniel of Grenada to suspend the game, but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann made a case for playing on. Play continued after some heated discussion. Pinto was angry during and after the game. “I asked them to stop. They should suspend the ref,” Pinto said. “It was an embarrassment. It was an insult to Costa Rica and people coming in here.”
More from midfielder Cristian Bolanos:
“Honestly, it was robbery, a disgrace, I’ve never played a game in these conditions,” midfielder Cristian Bolanos told Reuters. “You couldn’t see the ball … if we had played without snow, we would have won, I am sure.”
Reuters reports Costa Rica plans to file an official protest with FIFA. Something tells me this won’t be the last we’ve heard of this.
Peru needed a victory last night. They trailed Chile and Venezuela by four points for fifth (the fifth place team in CONEMBOL faces the third place team from the AFC for a spot in Brazil) heading into Matchday 11. Argentina defeated the Venezuelans as expected, but Peru couldn’t afford to drop points at home against Chile. Thanks to Schalke’s Jefferson Farfan, they exited Estadio Nacional with three points and renewed hope. The announcers were a little excited.
It wasn’t the Heat or the Lakers. It wasn’t Georgetown losing in the first round to the fifteenth seed in Philadelphia. The sporting event that captivated non-footy mad Americans around the country was a soccer game. That’s pretty damn special. The U.S.A moved to second place in the Hex, beating Costa Rica 1-0 thanks to a Clint Dempsey goal in the first half. The main story here, however, was the conditions in Denver.
Kudos to the Costa Ricans for playing on in less than ideal conditions. A brief stoppage in the second half ended after protests from both teams.
Forgive the people of Uruguay if they weren’t as preoccupied by Luis Suárez’s comments about his future at club level as many were in England. They have more to worry about right now. His country needs him.
Tonight’s qualifiers against Paraguay at the Centenario in Montevideo and next week’s visit to Santiago where they are due to face Chile will have a significant bearing on whether Uruguay make it to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil or not.
How could it have got to this? Not long ago Uruguay had a legitimate claim to be considered South America’s best team. They reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa then won the Copa América in Argentina the following year.
Coach Óscar Wáshington Tabárez was feted all over the world and rightly so. He’d turned back time. This small nation of just over three million people were an unlikely power again just as they had been when they’d won the World Cup in 1930 and again in 1950.
A run of 18 games without defeat had been established whilst a promising new generation of players was also apparently being integrated into the squad. The future looked bright. Yet quite unexpectedly, 2012 was to reveal itself to be an annus horribilis for Uruguay. Read the rest of this entry »
Fresh concerns over 2014 World Cup security were sparked when the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana final between São Paulo and Tigre came to a violent, premature end at the Brazilian city’s Morumbi stadium on Wednesday.
After players from the two sides clashed as they made their way toward the tunnel following a ferocious first half, reports of a brawl in the Tigre dressing room began filtering through to the media. Tigre manager Néstor Gorosito told Fox Deportes that stadium security had threatened his players with firearms—an allegation that was supported by left-back Lucas Orban, who stated that a security officer had put a gun to goalkeeper Damian Albil’s chest.
Tigre, saying the security of their players could not be guaranteed, refused to come out for the second period, and referee Enrique Osses awarded the match, and the trophy by default, to São Paulo.
Not surprisingly, the international press were quick to link the incident to the upcoming World Cup, which will be held in Brazil 18 months from now. The supposed possession of guns among stadium security—and their apparent willingness to un-holster those guns—unleashed a cavalcade of worry, and many of the familiar, redundant platitudes were subsequently provided for readers who had neither seen the match in question nor had any grasp of the context.