Our second look at Matchday 16 of the McDonald's FIFA World Cup Predictor brings into focus European playoffs, final group matches in Africa and the second-leg of the Asia-Oceania playoff.
Big night in Wellington
After holding Bahrain to a draw in the heights of Manama, New Zealand enjoy home advantage in the final leg of the Asia-Oceania playoff. The All Whites may be favourites at home, but Bahrain have not lost their past six internationals. A Bahrain win returns a whopping 82 points. Will Wellington be the stage of the All Whites first visit to a FIFA World Cup™ since Spain 1982 or will Bahrain book their first appearance at the prestigious tournament?
Last FIFA World Cup qualifying meeting: Bahrain 0-0 New Zealand (Manama, 10 October 2009)
FIFA World Cup qualifying head-to-head record: Played (3), New Zealand (2), Bahrain (0), Draws (1)
Slovenia travel to Russia having conceded only four goals in ten matches - and none in the last four qualifiers - making them the second best defence in the European zone during qualification. In contrast, Russia had a rough October losing to Germany in Moscow - their first home loss of the qualifiers - and then emerging with a draw away to Azerbaijan.
Both Greece and Ukraine are no strangers to FIFA World Cup qualification playoffs. Ukraine have been in that setting in 1997 and 2001, failing at both attempts. Greece last made a playoff in 1938, but also failed to progress. The last time these two sides met, Ukraine edged out Greece 1-0 during Germany 2006 qualification. Ukraine went on to qualify, while Greece were left at home. Most observers are tipping this match to be very evenly split. Choose wisely, the 60 odd points on offer could prove crucial.
Group B of CAF qualifying action goes down to the last matchday, with Tunisia leading the pack on 11 points and Nigeria just 2 points behind. Their respective matches will decide their 2010 FIFA World Cup fate.
Nigeria are one of only two African teams unbeaten in all 2010 FIFA World Cup preliminaries. The Super Eagles have also not conceded a goal in five away matches of the South Africa 2010 qualification tournament. Despite this impressive record, their qualification hinges on them beating Kenya and Tunisia losing in Maputo. Should Kenya beat or hold the Eagles at home, backers would gain some 90 points. A Nigeria win returns only 17 points.
Tunisia will enter Maputo with a little hesitation. Group B minnows Mozambique held Nigeria to a 0-0 draw in the capital back in April, a result that could ultimately have cost Nigeria a place in South Africa 2010. But in the last 20 years, Tunisia have lost only one away FIFA World Cup qualifier, and they are strong favourites. A Mozambican surprise returns 89 points, and a draw 83.
Last FIFA World Cup qualifying meeting: Tunisia 2-0 Mozambique (Rades, 6 June 2009)
FIFA World Cup qualifying head-to-head record: Played (1), Tunisia (1), Mozambique (0)
Matchday 16 deadline: 00:00 (GMT), 14 November 2009