Meanwhile, in the rest of the world... grudge matches and crunch games

Portugal need a big win, while Maradona faces a bumpy ride... Glenn Moore selects the talking points from the 'other' qualifiers


Europe



Albania v Portugal (today)



Sweden v Denmark (today)



Iceland v Netherlands (today)


Fifa's marketing men would be appalled, and Cristiano Ronaldo is unlikely to be too enthusiastic either at the prospect of missing out on the 2010 World Cup.

Yet that is a real prospect for Portugal, the 2006 semi-finalists. Now coached by former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, Portugal are seven points adrift of joint-leaders Denmark and Hungary in Group One. They do have three games in hand, but a trio of goalless draws have caused justified concern. Queiroz has recalled Luis Boa Morte, of West Ham, after a three-year absence. He has also stood by Pepe, who has not played for Real Madrid since April after incurring a 10-match ban for assaulting a Getafe player.

A big night too, for Mike Riley, the Leeds official who will be in Stockholm to referee Sweden's tie with Denmark. It is the Scandinavian rivals' first meeting since June 2007 when Austrian Herbert Fandel abandoned a Euro 2008 qualifying tie after being attacked by a Danish fan. Denmark had rallied from 3-0 down to 3-3 when Fandel awarded Sweden an 89th-minute penalty. The kick was never taken, and Uefa awarded Sweden a 3-0 win. The Swedes went on to qualify, the Danes did not.

With Sweden, despite a forward pairing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson, also seven points off the pace, the atmosphere will be tense. Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner should start for Denmark – "He's one of the young players who are beginning to make a real difference for us," said coach Morten Olsen – but Liverpool's Daniel Agger is doubtful with a back injury.

In Reykjavik the Dutch can become the first European country to qualify if they defeat Iceland in Scotland's group. Bert van Marwijk's side have won all five matches.

Asia

Qatar v Australia (today)

Uzbekistan v Japan (today)

It is still a year and five days before the opening of the 2010 finals but Australia and Japan can secure qualification today. A sixth clean sheet in as many group matches for Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will seal a place for the Socceroos who need just a point in Qatar. Tim Cahill intends to play despite picking up a muscle injury in the FA Cup final last weekend. Mark Viduka has been omitted, and may have finished his international career but Harry Kewell plays. Japan can snatch the first qualifying spot if they achieve the more demanding task of winning in Tashkent a few hours earlier.

Concacaf

Trinidad & Tobago v Costa Rica (today)

Remember Russell Latapy? A cult hero at Hibernian and Falkirk, less successful at Rangers, not least because of his preference for partying to training. The Trinidadian now faces one of his career's sterner challenges. Today he manages T&T in a competitive fixture for the first time having stepped up from coach in April. The opponents in Port-of-Spain are Costa Rica, who went top of the six-team final qualifying group for the north and central Americas with a surprise midweek defeat of the United States. Latapy, having scored a winner against the US as recently as November, may even pick himself as well as Dwight Yorke. However, the 40-year-old admitted: "I can still play in the training sessions, but at this level it is extremely difficult to do both the playing and the coaching." And the partying.

South America

Argentina v Colombia (today)

Uruguay v Brazil (today)

Diego Maradona is already fuming as he returns to the dug-out for the first time since Argentina's 6-1 defeat in Bolivia in April. Maradona described the Monumental pitch as "disastrous". A concert, held last week, has left the surface so damaged Maradona tried to switch the tie only to be told River Plate's ground was Argentina's only Fifa-approved venue. "We've brought over [Lionel] Messi, [Sergio] Aguero, [Javier] Mascherano, [Fernando] Gago and we're asking players who cost millions of euros to play on a piece of wasteground. It's horrible."

Argentina are in the fourth, and last, automatic qualifying place in the 10-team South American zone. "The most important thing is to win and we must focus on doing whatever is necessary to get it," said Juan Sebastian Veron, still playing for the Albiceleste at 34. "After we secure a result, we'll work on form."

Brazil have a little more breathing space, but defeat in Montevideo, where they have never won a qualifier, would pull them back in to the pack. Dunga has left out Ronaldo, despite his return to form with Corinthians, Ronaldinho, and Adriano. "I don't think Ronaldo would feel comfortable in the national team right now," said Dunga. "I'm not prepared," admitted Ronaldo.

Africa

Cameroon v Morocco (tomorrow)

Nigeria v Kenya (tomorrow)

There is no room for error in the African zone. Five groups, the winner goes through, the rest watch the continent's first home tournament from afar. And some grandees are struggling. Morocco and Cameroon, with eight World Cup final appearances between them, lost their opening games to trail Gabon and Togo in Group A. That prompted the resignation of Cameroon coach Otto Pfister so Thomas Nkono, the goalkeeper twice beaten from the spot by Gary Lineker in the 1990 quarter-final, will guide Africa's only team in the Fifa top 20, against Morocco tomorrow. Samuel Eto'o leads their attack.

Also under threat are the Nigeria of John Obi Mikel, Joseph Yobo, Obafemi Martins, Kanu and Dickson Etuhu. Held in Mozambique they already trail Tunisia by two points and must defeat Kenya ahead of their trip to North Africa later this month. Nigeria were lifted by beating France in St Etienne last week while Kenya arrived without their German coach due to a pay dispute.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent