With crucial matches in Brazil, Australia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Tunisia forthcoming, FIFA.com looks ahead to an intriguing weekend outside Europe.
Brazilian state championships: Regional wars continue
Robinho and Neymar will look to inspire Campeonato Paulista leaders Santos to victory over their struggling guests, Rio Claro. Botafogo-SP, in second, host sixth-placed Palmeiras, while third-placed Corinthians are away to Portuguesa.
Ituano, who have slid from first to ninth in recent weeks, will strive to rediscover their form at home to seventh-placed Sao Paulo.
High stakes: Vasco will take on Fluminense for a place in the final of the Taca Guanabara.
Players to watch: Who will win the shootout between Vasco striker Dodo and his Fluminense counterpart Fred?
UAE Football League: Abu Dhabi derby
The title race could be decided on Sunday, when pacesetters Al Jazira and Al Wahda meet in the Abu Dhabi derby. While Al Jazira are the only unbeaten side this season, Al Wahda will go into the game after registering seven straight wins recently in addition to two consecutive victories in the AFC Champions League play-offs.
With all the attention turning towards the capital, Al Ain, in third, will try to close the gap when they visit last-placed Ajman.
High Stakes: Al Wahda will go top for the first time if they hand Al Jazira their first league defeat since 6 March 2009.
Player to watch: Will Al Ain’s Argentinean striker Jose Sand continue his impressive form against lowly Ajman and add more to his 13 goals at the top of the scoring chart?
South African championship: Sundowns close in on SuperSport
With three rounds remaining, a two-horse race for glory ensues defending champions SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns. SuperSport still occupy pole position, but the Sundowns are only three points behind with a game in hand.
One of the most interesting scenarios, however, is playing itself out in the relegation battle. Rooted at the bottom of the log, Jomo Sono’s Jomo Cosmos will have to dig deep to avoid automatic relegation while another newly-promoted side, Mpumalanga Black Aces are also hanging by a thread. With Sono has insisted that he will survive the chop, his side have been shy infront of goals despite playing good football. It is goals that Cosmos need and they need the sooner than later.
In another game, Free State Stars will travel north of the country to face Steve Kompela’s Platinum Stars as the jostling for the top eight finish climaxes.
High stakes: This weekend might prove to be the most crucial stage of Sundowns’ championship ambitions when they welcome the much-improved Cape Town side, Santos.
Players to watch: Since his well-executed free kick against Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup in June last year, Katlego Mphela’s appetite for goals seems to be improving by each week, netting 16 already this season Also, can former Tottenham defender, Mbulelo ‘Old-John’ Mabizela continue with his rich vein of form and steer Platinum Stars to the top eight bracket at the battle of Stars up north?
Iran Pro League: Title race picks up pace
The league reaches the crucial stage in the 27th round on Wednesday with the league's top two sides doing battle. Sepahan. who are topping the table with 55 points, nine clear of runners-up Zob Ahan, play host to their nearest contenders. While Sepahan are desperate to extend their advantage with a home win, they have to keep vigilant of their resilient visitors, who boast one of the league's meanest defensive lines. Elsewhere, third-placed Persepolis, inspired by their 2-1 win over Esteghlal in the Tehran derby, will try to keep pressure on the frontrunners with an away win when they challenge hosts Moghavemat.
High stakes: After losing the last game to Persepolis, fourth-placed Esteghlal are expected to bounce back against lowly Mex.
Players to watch: With Sepahan well on course to winning their second league title, they are indebted to their Iraqi import Emad Mohammed, who topped the league scoring chart with 16 goals. Emad’s goal-scoring form will be key for his side to win.
While leaders Esperance and Club Africain start their CAF Champions League campaigns, eight-time Tunisian champions Etoile Sportive will try to jump to the second place in the standing when they host ES Zarziz on Sunday. Giants CS Sfaxien, who failed to win any match since November, will be hoping to put an end to their poor results when they meet Olympique Beja.
The final week of the Australian A-League regular season sees the two title aspirants, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory drawn together in a shootout for the Premiership and, with it, qualification for the 2011 AFC Champions League. Jason Culina’s Gold Coast travel to Robbie Fowler’s North Queensland Fury in the knowledge that a win will likely see them snatch second spot.