Five South American Teams Still Vying For Berth

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The penultimate round of the South American World Cup qualifiers takes place on Thursday and five teams are still in with a chance of joining Brazil and Argentina at the finals in Qatar.

Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Chile and Colombia all have a chance of booking a finals spot.

The region’s two giants have already qualified and Ecuador, who currently sit in third place on 25 points, three ahead of Uruguay, will join them if they win away to already eliminated Paraguay.

The top four sides in the 10-team group qualify automatically and the fifth-placed side go into a playoff against a team from the Asian confederation.

Uruguay, the only South American team outside Brazil and Argentina to win the World Cup, come into their match at home to Peru on the up and they fancy their chances of grabbing an automatic spot.

The Uruguayans won their last two games under new coach Diego Alonso and are currently one point ahead of Peru and three ahead of Chile, their final two opponents.

“This could be one of the most important (international games of my career) because of all it signifies, the chance of getting to another World Cup,” Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez admitted.

Their final opponents Chile, who play Brazil at the Maracana on Thursday, will have to make history if they are to qualify.

Brazil have never lost a qualifier at home and Chile must get all three points to keep their hopes alive going into next Tuesday’s final game against Uruguay.

“These statistics are there to be broken,” said Chilean coach Martin Lasarte, who acknowledged Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton will likely miss the Brazil match through injury.

“We have to play a great game to win a match like this, and minimise their strengths and take the chances that come our way.”

Colombia are another side who will have to perform miracles if they are to avoid missing out for the first time since 2010.

The Colombians have not scored in their last seven qualifiers, although their task will be aided by a game against Bolivia, who have conceded more goals than any other side and are already out.

“We’ve tried different variations,” coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “We’ve created chances both home and away but we haven’t had the coolness and precision to get better results.

“We are aware of the situation we are in,” he added. “These qualifiers have taught us that things can be resolved at the last minute. What is important is conviction and faith.”

Argentina, who are in second-place behind Brazil, take on Venezuela, the only South American team never to qualify for the finals, in Buenos Aires on Friday.

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