World Cup Qualification Talking Points – The Americas

Mexico finally get on track at the ninth time of asking

With just a single victory from their opening eight games, Mexico were on the verge of achieving the incredibly difficult and failing to qualify from the North American hexagonal group.

The Mexican’s were entering Friday’s clash against Panama off the back off defeats against Honduras and The United States – results which left them fifth in the table and outside of qualification altogether. Those results led to El Tri hitting the panic button and firing Jose Manuel de la Tore and replacing him with Victor Manuel Vucetich, a man who has won the Mexican Premier Division with no less than four different clubs.

Vucetich had the desired effect, although victory against Panama didn’t exactly come the easy way. Having taken the lead prior to half time, the Mexicans held on until the 81st minute when disaster struck and Panama equalised – thankfully Mexico responded as Raul Jimenez restored the lead just five minutes later with the most crucial strike of his young career to date.

That result means Mexico are now in the playoff position, three points clear of Panama who must beat the USA and hope Mexico don’t pick up anything in Costa Rica. Automatic qualification looks a tough ask now for El Tri, given that Honduras need just a point in Jamaica to take the final slot. Vucetich will know that only half the job is done, for picking up that point in Costa Rica will be easier said than done.

Jordan lie in wait for Uruguay

Despite their recent late flurry, defeat in Ecuador on Friday night means that Luis Suarez and co are more than likely going to have to wait book their tickets to Brazil.

The Uruguayans at one stage of this campaign looked in real danger of missing out completely – with a dire run of six winless games leaving them playing catch up. Better late than never Oscar Tabarez’s men have been able to regain their mojo, picking up three successive wins that not only put them in a firm position to clinch the playoff berth but with a distinct possibility of qualifying outright.

In order to do so, a win in the high altitude of Ecuador was required – not exactly a straight forward task. The Ecuadorians had looked assured of qualification not long back, yet four games without a win had seen them slump to the sweating point. Add in that the squad was understandably struggling to deal with the shock death of Christian Benitez and it is becomes clearer why their form has faded so badly.

On Friday night in Quito though, the form book was ripped up as Ecuador fought out a 1-0 over the Uruguayans to push themselves to the brink of Brazil. That defeat means Uruguay are now set for a double header against Jordan in November – given where they were earlier on in the campaign they should be more than satisfied with that and considering their form they should still be present come the summer of 2014.

Chile show their strength and weakness in Colombia

Chile are a side of supreme attacking prowess, on their day there are few sides better – the only problem is that coupled with that devastating ability going forward they can at times be found wanting defensively.

In Colombia they highlighted both these facets in quite dramatic fashion. Coming in off the back of four successive wins the Chileans raced into a 3-0 lead by half time, courtesy of an Arturo Vidal penalty and an Alexis Sanchez brace. That lead stood until almost the 70th minute, at which point Teofilo Gutierrez pulled one back before a pair of Falcao penalties rounded off a remarkable comeback – a result that took Colombia to a first World Cup since 1998.

Chile must now wait until Tuesday night to secure their second successive appearance at football’s biggest tournament. Their inability to hold on with little over twenty minutes left outlines Chile perfectly, they only know one way to play – which will make them box office viewing come the summer for the neutrals.