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This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. In this report we focus on the World Cup qualifiers that are currently taking place to decide the 31 teams that will join hosts Brazil in next year’s finals. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above, while there is also a worksheet here.
There are only three games to go in the European qualifying section and as expected the powerhouses of European football – Germany, Italy, Holland and holders Spain – all top their groups and are on the verge of making it to the finals in Brazil next summer. Belgium and Switzerland look like joining them as winners of their respective groups but things are a little more complicated for teams such as Russia, England, Portugal and France. England take on the Ukraine in their next game in Group H and must avoid defeat to keep their hopes of direct qualification alive but Montenegro complicate matters in that group with only one point separating them from the top two.
Despite a disappointing home defeat to Slovakia last Friday, Bosnia remain on top of Group G but they are now battling it out with Greece in an attempt to secure their first ever appearance at a major tournament. Russia and Portugal are neck and neck in Group F though the Russians have an easier run-in and should finish top with the Portuguese making the play-offs. Probably joining them in the play-offs will be Sweden, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and possibly Albania who would also be appearing in their first ever major tournament. The next set of matches take place this Tuesday followed by the final two games in October and then the play-offs in November and then we will know the 13 sides that will represent Europe in Brazil.
The qualifying section in South America is much more cut and dry with Argentina, Colombia and Chile filling the first three automatic qualifying places and Uruguay and Ecuador battling it out for the final direct spot in fourth. Venezuela still have a chance of making fifth place which would guarantee a play-off match against an Asian team but their hopes of appearing in their first-ever finals appear slim.
Four teams from Asia have already qualified for Brazil 2014: Japan, Korea, Iran and Australia who will represent the region in Brazil next year. Currently two sides – Jordan and Uzbekistan – are involved in a play-off to decide which team will play the fifth-place side in South America with Uzbekistan currently holding the upper hand after their 1-1 away draw in the first leg.
This weekend saw the culmination of all 10 groups in the African qualifying section with the leaders of each group going forward to a straight knock-out in October and November to determine the five teams to take part in Brazil 2014. Two sides that will not be featuring in next year’s finals are South Africa, who failed to overcome Ethiopia, and Tunisia who lost out to Cape Verde. Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon will all be involved in the autumn play-offs as will Egypt, Algeria and surprise package Burkina Faso.
With only three games remaining in the hexagonal tournament all but one of the six sides involved in the North and Central American region are in with a shout – though Panama will have to use up all their luck to make it through. The USA fell to Costa Rica at the weekend but should still progress along with their conquerors. Honduras lie in third, four points ahead of struggling Mexico who sacked their coach after a home defeat against Honduras at the weekend. However, Mexico should still make it even if they finish in fourth place as the play-off game would be against New Zealand from the Oceania region but the ‘Tri’ are in real crisis.
So, the race to make it to Brazil is really hotting up though after the next round of matches on Tuesday it should become a little clearer.
Here are some of the football vocabulary and phrases used in this week’s listening report
the powerhouses : traditionally strong teams
complicate matters: Make things more difficult
on the verge of: Almost; about to
take on: Will play against
battling it out: Fighting against
are neck and neck: Equal
cut and dry: Clearer
appear slim: To have almost no chance
holding the upper hand: To be in a stronger position
the culmination: The end
hexagonal tournament: Between 6 teams
in with a shout: Still have a chance
their conquerors: Here it refers to Costa Rica
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