Mexico, Turkey and the USA are safely through to the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 quarter-finals and will approach their third and final group fixtures in suitably relaxed mood; whereas Uruguay, Australia and Côte d'Ivoire are already eliminated and can begin packing for home. The remaining ten teams are fighting it out for the five available berths in the last eight. checks over the permutations and possible outcomes.

Group A: China in pole position
With two games played, China hold the aces in the race to claim a place in the last eight from Group A. The Chinese lead the standings on four points, but the situation remains precarious as they could still be eliminated in the event of defeat to Ghana in their last match. However, a draw against the West Africans would seal a quarter-final berth. Costa Rica and Ghana each have two points, so draws by identical scores in both remaining group matches would see one of the teams eliminated on the basis of a worse position in the Fair Play rankings. However, even bottom team Peru are not yet out of the running: should the hosts beat Costa Rica by two goals or more, they would qualify for the last eight regardless of the result in the other match. Even a victory by a single goal could be enough, provided China lose to Ghana by at least two goals.

Group B: Mexico and Turkey safely through
Group B is already done and dusted in terms of qualification, with Mexico and Turkey safely through following two wins apiece against Uruguay and Australia. The leading pair meet in the final group match to determine who tops the section. The victorious team travel to Iquitos for a quarter-final against the Group A runners-up, while the losers remain in Piura and face the Group A winners.

Group C: USA through, Italy and Korea DPR battle for second
A 3-2 victory over Korea DPR and a 3-1 success against Italy mean the USA are already through to the quarter-finals. By contrast, Côte d'Ivoire lost 4-3 against Italy and 3-0 against the Koreans, and can no longer reach the last eight. The question now is who will join the USA in the next round, as Italy and Korea DPR meet on 23 September in Trujillo for a winner-takes-all showdown. Both teams have amassed three points to date, but a draw would be sufficient for the Koreans to progress at the Europeans' expense. The Italians must win to remain in the tournament, guaranteeing a dramatic evening's entertainment.

Group D: Gambia, Netherlands and Brazil fight to stave off exit
At first glance, the situation in Group D bears more than a passing resemblance to Group C. Gambia lead on six points with the Netherlands and Brazil second and third on three points apiece. Qatar bring up the rear after two defeats. However, despite their double victory, the Africans are not yet home and dry. Defeat to the Netherlands by two goals or more, and a high-scoring win for Brazil against Qatar (4-0 or similar), could see the African champions slip to third place and pack for home. Brazil will be unwilling to rely on mathematics and are certain to attack, as the worst-case scenario sees the South Americans fail to make the last eight even if they defeat Qatar 3-0. The Dutch have concerns of their own: they must beat Gambia by a two-goal margin to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals. Even Qatar retain a mathematical chance, but with a five-goal deficit to make up, they must beat the Brazilians by a wide margin and hope the Dutch fall to Gambia by an equally decisive score. The final round of group matches promises tension and drama all the way.