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In this week’s main listening report we look back at some of the key moments from the final set of matches of World Cup qualifiers in Europe, South America, Central America and Africa. This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above.
2014 world cup qualifiers – Introduction
After the latest World Cup qualifying matches played over the past seven days, 12 more countries booked their places for Brazil 2014. In this week’s main report we look back at some of the drama of the final qualifying games.
Belgium’s away victory in Croatia and subsequent draw with Wales meant they finished top and unbeaten of what had appeared to be a very difficult Group A. Croatia made the play-offs but have sacked their coach suggesting their hopes of qualifying may be in tatters. Italy had already made it through to next year’s finals but their last-gasp equaliser against Denmark meant that the Danes would not even make the play-offs as they finished as the worst runner-up in the European section. Sweden and Romania will both be in the play-offs in November after finishing behind group winners Germany and Holland respectively. Switzerland topped Group E but that was not the big story from that group as Iceland managed to make it into the play-offs by finishing second above Albania, Norway and Slovenia. Iceland will be joined by Portugal in the play-offs as they were unable to overtake Russia at the top of Group F – yet again Ronaldo and co will have to face a two-legged battle in November. Greece may be one of Portugal’s opponents in that play-off after finishing behind first-time finalists Bosnia who came out on top thanks to a better goal difference than the Greeks. Spain and England also made it through to Brazil 2014 after picking up maximum points from their final matches while the Ukraine and France will both be in the play-offs come November.
Ecuador and Chile have joined Argentina and Colombia in next year’s finals with Uruguay losing out on direct qualification despite victory over Argentina in their final group game. The Uruguayans face yet another play-off – their fourth in succession – but the fourth-best team at the last World Cup should have too much for Asia’s fifth-best team, Jordan, over two legs.
Despite losing away in Costa Rica, Mexico were celebrating as they pulled off a quite remarkable escape. The USA’s two late goals away in Panama meant that Mexico managed to scrape into the play-offs (where they will face New Zealand over two legs). Poor Panama were undone yet again in the final minutes: they lost to a last-minute winner against Mexico at the weekend and then with their match against an already-qualified US side heading into stoppage time the Americans scored twice to knock them out. Honduras and Costa Rica will join the USA in Brazil, while we have to wait and see if Mexico can also make it through – though I wouldn’t bet on it.
After the five first-leg matches played over the weekend, it appears that three teams have one foot in Brazil. Ghana thrashed Egypt 6-1 at home and are hot favourites to get through, while Nigeria’s 2-1 away victory over outsiders Ethiopia and Ivory Coast’s 3-1 home win against Senegal means they should both also qualify. The other two ties hang in the balance with Tunisia and Cameroon drawing 0-0 in North Africa and Burkina Faso beating Algeria 3-2 – those away goals could prove vital for the other North African side in the play-offs. The second legs take place in November and should see Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria and the Ivory Coast all progressing to next year’s World Cup.
Football vocabulary and phrases used in this week’s listening report
be in tatters: In ruins
last-gasp Right in the final seconds of the game
topped Group E: Finished first in the group
Ronaldo and co: The Portuguese (Ronaldo and his team mates)
face: Play against
in succession: In a row
to scrape into: To just about qualify – only just
stoppage time: the added time to the end of the game (e.g. 90+2)
have one foot in Brazil: Almost qualified for the finals
hang in the balance: We cannot call them as they are too close
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