Preview: 2014 FIFA World Cup – Qualifiers – Play-offs – Interconfederation
AFC – CONMEBOL
JORDAN – URUGUAY
First leg: Jordan – Uruguay 0-5 (the post was written before the match).
There should be no competiton. Uruguay looks too strong for Jordan.
This NT has been very unlucky. They’ve never gone so far in a WC Qualifier, and they reached the Inter-continental Play-off Stage just when an Asian team has to meet a South American one. I have to confess that I know almost nothing about Jordan. The Coach has been Hossam Hassan, a legend of Egyptian NT (169 caps and 69 goals), sice June 2013. He continued the good work made by his predecessor Adnan Hamad.
Maybe team work and an apparently solid defence. The best player, the only who I knew, should be the forward Thaer Bawab, that grew up in Spain and now plays in Romania for Gaz Metan, where he scored several goals in the last two seasons. The other best players should be the one playing in the Saudi Championship; defenders Mohammad Munir Al Mutasim and Mohammad Mustafa, midfielders Shadi Abu Hashhash, Yassin Al Bakhit, Mossab Al-Laham, Abdallah Deeb (he had played in Belgium for KV Mechelen for one season) and Khalil Zaid Bani Ateyah, while the striker Odai Al Saify now plays in Kuwait, but in the past played in Greece and Cyprus for Skoda Xanthi and AKI Larnaka.
Lack of international experince, they probably aren’t used to face South American NTs.
This team has a strong potential, often performs very well in the Final Stage of competitons, but often struggles in the WC qualifiers, because in 2002, 2006 and 2010 CONMEBOL Qualifiers has always ended fifth in the group and has always had to play Inter-continetal Play-offs. In this South American Qualifying Group they totalized 25 points, scored 25 goals and conceded 25 goals.
There are very good players in every part of the squad, such as Diego Godín (Atletico de Madrid), Maxi Pereira (Benfica), Gastón Ramírez (FC Southampton), Álvaro González (SS Lazio), Diego Pérez (Bologna), but only few teams in the world can field an attack with three “musketeers” such as Edinson Cavani (PSG), Diego Forlán (Internacional Porto Alegre) and Luis Suárez (Liverpool FC).
Fernando Muslera improved a lot since the beginning of his career, but maybe he isn’t the most reliable GK in the world.
Prediction: Jordan 5% – Uruguay 95%
CONCACAF – OFC
MEXICO – NEW ZEALAND
First leg: Mexico – New Zealand 5-1 (the post was written before the match).
Normally there should be no ccontest, Mexico should qualify easily. But this Mexico is very troubled, and probably deserved to be eliminated in the previous CONCACAF Group, so New Zealand could have few chances to cause an upset.
They probably don’t deserve to be here. They should have easily qualified in the CONCACAF Group, considering their huge potential, instead they avoided elimination just because their biggest rivals, the Americans, already qualified, defeated Panama, that was contending Mexico the Play-off spot, scoring two goals in the added time. Actually USMNT is far better than Mexican National Team. It’s unbelievable how such a strong team, that moreover won the Olympics last year, could perform so poorly in the WC Qualifiers, anyway they should be still the favourite for the match against New Zealand.
There are plenty of good player to choose for every role, especially in the midfield: Andres Guardado (Valencia), Héctor Herrera (FC Porto), Pablo Barrera (CD Cruz Azul), Javier Aquino (Villareal CF) and veteran Gerardo Torrado (CD Cruz Azul). On the front, the key players should be Giovani Dos Santos (Villareal CF), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Manchester United) and Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), while in the back there are Héctor Moreno (RCD Espanyol), promising Diego Reyes (FC Porto) and two experienced players like Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez and captain Rafael Márquez (Club Léon), who isn’t anymore the same of few years ago.
Maybe the defence, if Rafa Márquez and Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez played together, it could result too slow.
Instead, among midfielders and forwards, only few are tall and physical.
They surely would have preferred to face Panama, it would have been a quite balanced match. They’re a solid and organized team, usually quite defensive, whose footballers mostly play in Australian A-League, but few of them play on stronger championships, but they need almost a miracle to defeat Mexico. The Coach, Ricki Herbert, is the one that was in charge in South Africa 2010, when New Zealand was eliminated undefeated after three draws in the Group Stage, while last year they lost Ryan Nelsen, a defender with a great experience in English Premier League, that retired to start a coaching career in MLS.
Strenghts Solidity and defensive organization. The best players are by far Winston Reid (defender, regular starter of West Ham United), and Chris Woods (21, forward of Leicester City, he played in 2010 WC when he was 17), while Marco Rojas (VfB Stuttgart) and Tommy Smith (Ispwich Town) are very important as well. The forwards who played in South Africa, Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Rory Fallon (St. Johnstone) and Chris Killen (Chongqing FC, former Celtic FC striker) are still in the squad.
There isn’t a lot of quality. If they had to attack to reverse a match, they could be in serious troubles.
Predictions: Mexico 70% – New Zealand 30%