World Leagues preview
The line-up for the play-off semi-finals in Mexico and the group stage in Colombia will be finalised this weekend, while the new season will commence in Canada and the trophy could be seized in the United Arab Emirates. With the title race in its infancy in Brazil, second third in Japan and Sudan, and home straight in Argentina and Nigeria, FIFA.com previews the forthcoming action outside Europe.
Argentinian Clausura: Six rounds to go
Leaders Velez Sarsfield will look to Victor Zapata and Hernan Lopez as they attempt to stay unbeaten at Gimnasia La Plata, who in turn will be praying goalkeeper Gaston Sessa can thwart his former club and help his current one to a first win in ten games. Lanus, two points back in second, will entertain in-form Rosario Central, while third-placed Colon will visit rock-bottom Tigre.
Fourth-placed Huracan, four points off the summit, will host a River Plate side one position and three points beneath them.
High stakes: Boca Juniors and Arsenal will strive to avoid going eight and ten matches without victory respectively when they meet at the Bombonera.
Players to watch: Mauro Diaz, 18, and 21-year-old Diego Buanonotte will be charged with playmaking duties for River, whose opponents will look to Javier Pastore and Matias De Federico; another pair with just 39 years between them.
Brasileirao: Quintet eye six from six
With all-action midfielder Ramires and skilful forward Kleber in form, Cruzeiro will aim to make it maximum points from two matches at Nautico. Fluminense will also go in search of a second successive victory away to a newly-promoted side in Barueri, while Vitoria will seek to maintain their 100 per cent start at home to Sport.
The other two opening-day victors will meet in Porto Alegre, where a depleted Internacional will welcome Palmeiras, with Rio de Janeiro staging the Botafogo-Corinthians encounter.
High stakes: Both Sao Paulo and Atletico Paranaense will be out to rebound from defeat when they engage in a repeat of the Copa Libertadores 2005 final.
Players to watch: Atletico Mineiro forward Diego Tardelli and Gremio's impressive captain Tcheco could be key to the outcome of their contest.
Mexican Clausura: Semis in sight
Pachuca qualified for the play-offs with the best record from the regular season, and they duly put one foot in the semi-finals with a 3-1 win away to Chiapas. Christian Gimenez and team-mates will now look to complete the job, while their visitors will pin their hopes on Argentina's Neri Cardozo and Brazilian Danilinho sparking an improbable turnaround.
Puebla and Tecos will also take two-goal cushions into their quarter-final second legs, although their respective opponents, Monterrey and Pumas, both have home advantage.
High stakes: Indios edged Toluca 1-0 at home in their first leg, leaving the tie wide open.
Players to watch: Monterrey will be hoping Humberto Suazo recovers from a knock as they go in search of goals against Puebla, whose attack will be spearheaded by Daniel Osorno.
Japanese J.League: Contenders collide
Kashima Antlers, top on goal difference, will strive to make it 23 points from their last possible 27 at second-bottom Kashiwa Reysol, as their two closest challengers square off. AFC Champions League 2007 winners Urawa Red Diamonds, with Edmilson in prolific form, will have home advantage against third-placed Gamba Osaka, who succeeded their opponents as Asian champions last year and boast a formidable attack comprising Cho Jae-Jin and Leandro.
Albirex Niigata, in fourth, and fifth-placed Nagoya Grampus will expect home successes over bottom-half teams Vissel Kobe and Omiya Ardija respectively.
High stakes: Shimizu S-Pulse, one place outside the drop zone, will host tailenders Oita Trinita, who are already eight points adrift of safety.
Players to watch: Korea DPR striker Jong Tae-Se has shone this term for sixth-placed Kawasaki Frontale, while Korea Republic luminary Lee Keun-Ho has posted six goals and four assists in his last six appearances to leave Jubilo Iwata trailing their Round 12 adversaries only on goal difference.
Sudanese Premier League: Omdurman rivals battle on
Al Hilal were pipped at the post by their arch-rivals Al Merreikh last year, but the Blue Wave are already the overwhelming title favourites this term. Haitham Mustafa, Lele Mbele and Mudathir Karika have helped the record 24-time national champions claim 31 points from a possible 33, and they will strive to improve this statistic at their Kadougli-based namesakes in Round 12.
Meanwhile, Al Merreikh, four points shy in second, will unleash on-song Nigerian attackers Kelechi Osunwa and Endurance Idahor on basement side Al Shimali.
High stakes: Second-bottom Al Ittihad will be determined to win at home to Al Merghani, who are four points and places above them.
Players to watch: Jime Natale will lead third-placed Al Nil's line when they visit struggling Hay Al Arab, for whom Baraka Abbas stars.
Six teams will compete for two tickets to join Atletico Junior, La Equidad, Boyaca Chico, Cucuta, Tolima and Envigado in the group phase of the Colombian Copa Mustang I when the final round of the regular season takes place. Victory at home to Independiente Medellin would effectively guarantee Once Caldas's progression, while only goals scored separates Quindio, in eighth, and ninth-placed Deportivo Cali ahead of the visits of Huila and Sante Fe respectively. Away upsets would open the door for America, Pereira and, at least mathematically, Cartagena.
Having reached the semi-finals in their inaugural season and finished runners-up in 2008, Trois-Rivieres Attak's quest to make it third time lucky will involve them partaking in the opening two fixtures of this year's Canadian Soccer League. First, attacking gems Yannick Rome-Gosselin, Antoine Flores and Reda Agourram will visit 2006 champions Italia Shooters this evening, before a trip to TFC Academy tomorrow.
One point separates the top two heading into the penultimate round of the UAE League, and both are at home on Friday. Al Ahly, in the driving seat to represent the host nation at this year's FIFA Club World Cup, face a Dhafra side coming off the back of two impressive wins, while runners-up Al Jazira take on fifth-placed Al Shabab, whom they beat 3-1 in the reverse fixture.
In the only match in the Nigerian Premier League calendar, Heartland will hope captain Thankgod Ike, the exhilarating Stanley Okoro and forward Signs Chibambo can help them arrest a run of three straight losses with a victory that would cut Bayelsa United's lead to five points.
Atletico Mineiro-Gremio, Urawa Red Diamonds-Gamba Osaka and Manchester United-Arsenal are among the matches on the FIFA World Leagues Predictor's Round 35 menu. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up and take a shot at winning this weekend's prize.
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