With just two matchdays remaining in the South American Zone, only Brazil and Paraguay are sure of appearing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The identities of the two other direct qualifiers and the continent's play-off representative have yet to be revealed.
No less than six teams remain in the hunt for those places. The question is, who out of Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Colombia will be celebrating when the group reaches its conclusion in a month's time? FIFA.com rounds up the situation as it stands, and looks at all the possible permutations ahead of the next round of matches on Saturday 10 October.
Which teams are already through?
Brazil and Paraguay have two things in common. Both have already made sure of their place in South Africa and both did so by defeating Argentina. Three points clear at the top of the section, A Seleção intend to stay there and follow up June's FIFA Confederations Cup triumph in style. Having qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the fourth time running, meanwhile, Gerardo Martino's men have not given up hope of catching the Brazilians and winning the group themselves.
Which teams are already out?
Bolivia and Peru are the only sides that have no chance of qualifying. The Peruvians lie bottom of the table with ten points, while the Bolivians are one place above them with 12.
Only Chile and Ecuador can book their place in the finals in the next round of games. The other sides in contention will have to wait until the final matchday to learn their fate, no matter if they win their penultimate matches.
Chile (27 points): La Roja will qualify if they win their next game in Colombia or if they draw and Argentina fail to beat Peru. Should the Chileans lose and both Argentina and Ecuador fail to win, they will be assured of a play-off place at the very least.
Ecuador (23): Sixto Vizuete's side can clinch one of the automatic qualification slots on 10 October if they beat Uruguay, Argentina lose to Peru, and Venezuela and Colombia fail to defeat Paraguay and Chile respectively. Failing that, El Tri will have to wait until the final matchday to try to wrap things up.
Argentina (22): La Albiceleste cannot qualify until the final day but could move back up to fourth if they beat Peru at home in their next match and Ecuador lose or draw against Uruguay. Three points against the Peruvians will also ensure them a place in the play-off if Uruguay, Venezuela and Colombia all lose their penultimate engagements.
Uruguay (21): To jump up to fourth, Los Charrúas need to beat Ecuador in Quito and hope that Argentina do not overcome Peru. The Uruguayans have a goal difference of +8, the best of the six sides still in contention.
Venezuela (21): La Vinotinto are the only South American side never to have reached the FIFA World Cup, an unwanted record they are hoping to bring to an end in the coming weeks. Currently seventh, the Venezuelans can climb into the play-off spot if they beat Paraguay in their next outing and Uruguay and Argentina fail to win their matches.
Colombia (20): Los Cafeteros need other results to go their way if they are to have any chance of running out at South Africa 2010. Fifth place could be theirs if they win at home to Chile on 10 October, but only if Peru prevail in Argentina and Uruguay and Venezuela fail to take maximum points from their respective encounters with Ecuador and Paraguay.
The play-off explained
The team finishing fifth in the South America Zone goes on to face the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF Zone in a two-legged decider, with the winner advancing to South Africa 2010. As it stands, the two sides contesting that final ticket would be Argentina and Costa Rica.
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