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Argentina, Portugal Struggling in World Cup Qualifiers

Posted September. 11, 2009 08:03,   


Argentina’s sluggish performance is the biggest surprise in this year’s World Cup soccer qualifiers. The country is in danger of breaking its streak of nine consecutive qualifications.

Despite having its greatest player Diego Maradona as coach, Argentina lost to Brazil 3-1 Sunday and to Paraguay 1-0 yesterday.

With 22 points (six wins, four draws and six losses), the Argentines fell to fifth in the Latin American standings and could miss their first World Cup in 30 years.

Argentina is neck-and-neck with sixth-placed Uruguay (21 points) and seventh-ranked Colombia (20 points). Maradona’s team must face in a playoff the fourth-ranked team in the North American, Central American and Caribbean regional qualifiers.

Maradona said, “We will win our remaining two matches no matter what,” but doubts are swirling over his ability to revive his team’s slump.

The situation is even worse for Portugal, which boasts perhaps the world’s top striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The team managed to rekindle hope for a World Cup berth by beating Hungary 1-0 yesterday, but a flurry of obstacles remain.

With 13 points, Portugal ranks third in its group behind Denmark with 18 points and Sweden with 15.

Portugal is tied with Hungary in points. The two remaining matches will determine whether the Portuguese can advance to the finals by winning their group or perhaps do so via playoff.

Eleven of the 32 teams have been decided for the South Africa World Cup next year. They include host South Africa, South and North Korea, Australia and Japan in Asia; the Netherlands, England and Spain in Europe; Brazil and Paraguay in Latin America; and Ghana in Africa.