Having regained their place in the global elite, Marcelo Bielsa's upwardly mobile side are now setting their sights on success in South Africa.
Argentina and Uruguay hit dramatic late winners as Chile qualified in style. Ecuador's hopes were hit while Venezuela and Colombia's dream ended.
Chile earned a 4-2 victory over Colombia to join Brazil and Paraguay as South Africa 2010 qualifying nations from South America.
Shinji Okazaki was on target twice as Japan beat Chile 4-0 in their Kirin Cup opener, with Yuki Abe and Keisuke Honda adding the Asians' other goals.
FIFA.com looks back on the incidents in South America so far and checks the form of the runners and riders in the race for a place in South Africa.
While Paraguay race ahead in South America, the rest of the field is bunched close, as the race for one of the four automatic spots intensifies.