No, it’s not an exaggeration. There is a possibility (albeit slight possibility) that Argentina and Brazil may not qualify for the second stage of the CONMEBOL qualifiers, thus eliminating them from World Cup contention.
This is how it all breaks down: Argentina seemingly has the easiest route. If the Argentinians beat Ecuador tonight, they’re onto the second stage. Ecuador needs to beat Argentina by at least three goals to reach the second stage. Chile has already qualified out of Group A. In Group B, Brazil also has what looks like an easy route into the second stage, but there is one scenario that can knock out Brazil.
If Brazil beats Paraguay, they’re in, leaving the second and final spot open for either Colombia or Paraguay. If Brazil and Paraguay draw, Brazil and Colombia advance. The one way Brazil cannot advance is if they lose by two goals or more to Paraguay and Colombia beats Uruguay. If Colombia beats Uruguay, Colombia advances. The only chance for Paraguay to move on is if Colombia’s margin of loss is at least three goals more than Paraguay’s or two if Paraguay scores at least two goals more. If not, Colombia advances. Sound confusing? It is. Bottom line, wins by Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia send those three teams to the second stage.
If Mexico’s win over the U.S. was the biggest upset in women’s soccer history, we almost had the second biggest upset last night. Brazil played Colombia and took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Cristiane and Marta. But Colombia struck less than 15 minutes into the second half on a goal by Yuli Munoz to make it a 2-1 game. The Brazilians held off the Colombia attack for the final 30 minutes in what has been Brazil’s closest match in this tournament. Colombia became the first team to score against Brazil in a WC qualifier since Brazil’s third match in the group stage of the 2007 CONMEBOL qualifiers (a 6-1 win over Bolivia, and it was a PK goal by Bolivia). It was also Brazil’s closest margin of victory in a qualifier since April 23, 2003, when the Brazilians beat Argentina, 3-2, in the final round.
Earlier yesterday in Group B, Venezuela beat Uruguay, 5-2, backed by a pair of goals from Isaura Vizo and one each from Nayle Quintero, Karla Torres, and Ariana Altuber.
World Cup qualifiers update: African Women’s Championship semifinals, Brazil loses player to ACL tear, and U.S. prepares for playoff with Italy
The semifinals for the African Women’s Championship are set for Thursday in South Africa. Nigeria takes on Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea plays South Africa. Ghana, which has played in the last three World Cups, did not advance after losing, 3-1, Monday to Equatorial Guinea. South Africa, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea have never qualified for the World Cup, and Nigeria has never not qualified.The winners of Thursday’s semifinals qualify for the World Cup and advance to the AWC finals on Monday, Nov. 14, at Sinaba Stadium.
At the CONMEBOL qualifiers in Ecuador, favorites Brazil and Argentina are unbeaten. Brazil has qualified for every World Cup, Argentina the last two. But Chile, Paraguay, and Colombia look to be legitimate contenders. All five teams are unbeaten heading into Wednesday. That’s when Peru plays Chile and Bolivia faces Ecuador in Group A action. Both Peru and Bolivia must win Wednesday to avoid elimination. Chile can advance to the knockout round if its result is better than Ecuador’s result against Bolivia. Argentina and Chile are in first and second place, respectively, in Group A. Argentina is 3-0, while Chile is 2-0-1. Even though it is not playing, Argentina can advance to the knockout stage Wednesday if Peru beats Chile and Bolivia beats Ecuador. In Group B, Venezuela was eliminated Tuesday after losing, 5-0, to Colombia. Yoreli Rincon, who scored the “Goal of the Tournament” at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany this past summer, scored one of Colombia’s five goals. Rincon and Brazil’s Marta are second in Group B with two goals scored, one back of Christiane, who has scored three goals for Brazil. The Brazilians, the runners-up at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, are 2-0 after wins over Venezuela and Uruguay.
Leah Fortune (Our Game Magazine, July 2010) got her first cap with the Brazilian Women’s National Team but was taken away by ambulance after suffering a knee injury in the match against Uruguay. An MRI later confirmed a complete tear of her ACL and partial meniscus tear in her left knee. On her blog, Fortune said she will remain with the team in Ecuador throughout the qualifiers and then return to the U.S. for surgery on her knee.
Canada capped off its phenomenal run in the CONCACAF qualifiers by beating Mexico, 1-0, Monday. The Canadians outscored their opponents, 17-0, winning their second Gold Cup and first since 1998, when coincidentally they beat Mexico, 1-0. Christine Sinclair scored a PK for Canada in Monday’s win. The U.S., meanwhile, beat Costa Rica, 3-0, to advance to the CONCACAF/UEFA playoff against Italy. Abby Wambach scored two goals and Lauren Cheney scored one for a U.S. team that is headed to Stadio Euganeo in Padua, Italy on Nov. 20. The return leg is Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. That playoff will determine the 16th and final spot in the 2011 World Cup. On Nov. 29, FIFA will hold the draw for the World Cup. U.S. coach Pia Sundhage called up Leslie Osborne to play in the playoff against Italy. Osborne, who plays for the Boston Breakers of the WPS, broke her collarbone against Sky Blue FC back on Aug. 15. She recently was cleared to play, and this will be her first time back with the USWNT since 2008.
The following teams have already qualified for the 2011 Women’s World Cup: Germany (host nation), Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, England, Norway, France, Japan, North Korea, and Australia.