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Uruguay favourites to meet Aussies in World Cup play-off
October 12, 2005
MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - The tensions are mounting in some corners of the South American continent ahead of the final opportunity to secure the fifth and final World Cup ticket for Germany.
With four teams already qualified for the 2006 finals Uruguay, Colombia and Chile are vying to claim fifth spot in the group after the final round of matches which would land them a play-off place against Australia.
Only a point separates the three countries who are hoping to join Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador.
Australia won the Oceania group and with no direct qualification must play-off against the South America zone fifth placed team.
Whoever that turns out to be may be causing some concern Down Under, especially if it turns out to be Uruguay.
Uruguay, who currently occupy fifth place in the 10-team group on 22 points, would initially appear to have the hardest task but on second glance their home advantage against group winners Argentina could prove decisive.
Very few teams go to the Uruguayan capital and come away with the points.
Early on in the campaign Uruguay, coached by Jorge Fossati, succumbed to two shock home defeats, by Venezuela (0-3) and Peru (1-3) a few months later.
But since then, the team which has notched up five wins and seven draws from their 17 games so far have given little to their visitors at the Centenario stadium.
World champions Brazil were held to a 1-1 draw in Montevideo back in March and their last match at home ended in a 3-2 defeat for Colombia.
Fossati is adamant they are going out to grab their chance.
"We have the capacity to go out, square up to and beat Argentina," he declared, although he will be hoping his players are sufficiently fired up after their scoreless draw away to Ecuador at the weekend.
Colombia are sixth in the table on 21 points and hoping their already qualified hosts Paraguay step off the gas in Asuncion.
Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda was raging after his team let slip a 1-0 lead against Chile last weekend to finally end up sharing the spoils with their fellow hopefuls.
"We had the match in our hands and we let it slip," he lamented.
"We have to go and do in Paraguay what we failed to do here. Just as everyone predicted, it has all come down to the final game."
Chile coach Nelson Acosta, a Uruguayan, was somewhat more philosophical over his team's chances ahead of their hosting of Ecuador.
"We're going out to win obviously, but our fate depends on a few other results."
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