Final lap in South American qualifying

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Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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For months now there's been talk of will they or won't they - that of course is whether Brazil will make it the 2002 football World Cup. Well, they will know soon because it's down to the last two matches in the South American qualifying group. Brazil have never failed to reach the finals, and until last year, had lost just one qualifying match in their history. But it's been a very different ball game for them this time around with defeats at the hands of Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador. But Brazil got their act together and beat Chile 2-0 in their last encounter in the reverse leg in October. The 1998 runners-up now travel to Bolivia for their penultimate match. They must win it to have any chance of making it to South Korea and Japan next year. But the team that has had a dream run has been Ecuador. They have had a remarkable qualifying campaign for a team long considered a total pushover. Ecuador has beaten Brazil, Paraguay and Chile to move to the brink of the finals, and they thrashed Bolivia 5-1 in their last qualifying match. They now need just a draw against Uruguay to confirm their place for the World Cup. Crucial for the home side will be strike partners Agustin Delgado and Ivan Kaviedes, who have 11 goals between them so far in the tournament. Argentina is the only team through to the 2002 World Cup, but just one point from tonight's games will see Paraguay and Ecuador taking their places. Brazil must win against Bolivia for automatic qualification, but Uruguay needs a win against Ecuador to make sure of fifth place. That would send them to a playoff with Australia.

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