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Oct 10, 200918:00 Live
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Brazil and Paraguay have already booked their places into the finals of the World Cup in South Africa.
However, like Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia and even Chile in third, nothing is assured yet for both Ecuador and Uruguay.
These two teams will affront each other on Saturday and anything else than a draw will definitely put more fire in the already-hot race.
The Ecuadorians have well responded to the troubles that they faced in the first half of the qualifying campaign.
Ecuador started the road on a very bad note, losing the opening game at home to Venezuela. This defeat followed with two other losses away to Brazil and Paraguay respectively. In each of these games, Ecuador conceded five goals.
But they ameliorated defensively and in the fourth game of their South American qualifying campaign, they drew 1-1 against Argentina.
Ecuador managed a run of five games unbeaten. Among those encounters, there was a goalless draw against Uruguay in Montevideo.
Since losing 5-1 to Paraguay in November 2007, Ecuador remain unbeaten by teams that are currently above them in the CONMEBOL group standings.
Indeed, Ecuador recorded a stunning 2-0 victory at home to Diego Maradona’s Argentina only to emphasize their recent strength against South America's top teams.
Ecuador have played sixteen games like any other country in the ten-team group and like Argentina who seat behind them, they’ve recorded six victories.
However, Ecuador have lost five times compared to Argentina’s six defeats. Consequently, the Ecuadorians find themselves seating fourth in the table with twenty-three points, just one point above the struggling Argentines.
Uruguay kicked off their World Cup qualifying in style with a heavy 5-0 victory over Bolivia. But quickly, the Uruguayans fell into inconsistency. In the four games that followed their opening fixture, the Uruguayans failed to find a win.
Then they bounced back with a trouncing 6-0 victory at home to Peru but their relief was soon to fade away.
In the two qualifiers that came up in September last year, Uruguay lost control as they lost away to Colombia and only drew at home to the Ecuadorians.
In both of these games, Uruguay couldn’t find the back of the net; they were left with only one point from a possible six.
A 2-0 victory over Paraguay in March 2009 was more than significant for them but in June, it was time for more troubles.
Uruguay fell heavily at home to Brazil for the first time in their history of football and could only draw 2-2 away to Venezuela in the following fixture.
Fortunately for the Uruguayans, they managed to clinch an important win against Colombia in their last qualifying match in September.
In general, Uruguay have struggled a lot to find their rhythm and their inconsistency is the cause of their status in the group standings.
They are currently out of the automatic qualification zone as well as the play-off zone.
Uruguay have twenty-one points from sixteen games but their goal-scoring ability has given them the best goal difference in the table after Brazil and Paraguay.
Ecuador are expected to make the most of the high altitude factor that they possess at home. The only time that they lost on home soil in the World Cup qualifiers was back in October 2007, on the opening day of their campaign.
Meanwhile, Uruguay have won only once in eight attempts away from home in the qualifiers; their latest trips away from the Centenario ended in disappointment.
In the 2-2 draw against Venezuela, Diego Forlan’s strike on 71 minutes wasn’t the winner as Jose Manuel Rey got off the mark three minutes later to level the game all square.
Against Peru in September, the result was even less convincing as they went down to Rengifo’s late goal four minutes from normal time.
With two games left in the campaign, Uruguay need to find the right approach and the perfect touch to grab enough points for qualification.
As for Ecuador, a bit of endurance will see them enter the promise land in 2010.