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FIFA WORLD CUP 2002 - REVIEW OF MATCHES IN NOVEMBER 2000
Reviewed by PETER GODFREY
Although there were only 16 matches played during November the month's matches were not without interest.
In the CONCACAF Confederation what were expected to be the last of the semi-final group matches took place.
Group E proved to be the closest and whilst the United States 4 - 0 win in Barbados saw them through to the final group, Guatemala have to play-off for second spot against Costa Rica following their 2 - 1 home win, thanks to a Carlos Ruiz goal just two minutes from time, which meant that both countries finished with identical match records.
The final qualifiers from Group C had been decided after the fourth round of matches so this month it just left the loose ends to be tied up. Trinidad & Tobago finished top of the table after there single goal win in Panama thanks to a Nigel Pierre penalty while Mexico were held to a 0 - 0 draw in Canada.
Honduras top Group D following their win in St. Vincent & Grenadines by seven goals to nil. St. Vincent, who did well to get this far, finished without a win in this group. Jamaica, although qualifying, lost their second match in a row going down 2 - 0 in El Salvador.
The dates for the final group matches were decided on 19th November in Guatemala City although no date for the play-off match is yet available. The final matches start in late February and continue through to November 2001.
Round 10 of the South American (CONMEBOL) competition finished off this year's matches and the top three sides all finished on winning notes.
Brazil left it until the second minute of injury time before a Roque Junior header saw them beat Colombia in San Paulo to stay in second spot five points behind Argentina who won 2 - 0 in Chile.
Third placed Paraguay stuck five goals past Peru who could only manage one in reply.
Ecuador won only their second away World Cup match in 33 attempts when they won by the odd goal in three in Venezuela, whilst Uruguay came away from playing 3,600 metres above sea level in Bolivia with a single point from a goalless draw. Perhaps Bolivia should be made to play in group with Tibet and Mongolia !!!
There were just two matches in the European Confederation in November and both were between what are conceived to be minnows in their respective Groups.
In Group 6 Latvia recorded their first win with a 1 - 0 result in San Marino before what could well be the smallest crowd in this Confederation of just 537 spectators. This compares with almost 4,500 who watched the home side lose their previous home match against Scotland.
In Group 2, a 5 - 0 home win for Cyprus against Andorra saw the home side elevated to second spot in the table just one point behind leaders Portugal. It is unlikely that they will stay in this position as both of their wins were over Andorra and they lost their other match at home to The Netherlands by four goals to nil.
The Asian Confederation matches finally got underway but Myanmar's withdrawal from Group 2 meant that only three countries competed in this groups matches which were all played in Iran.
If it was goals you liked to see, then the matches to go to were those involving the tiny Pacific Island of Guam.
Ranked only 200th in the FIFA rankings, the 160 place different certainly showed in their first match against Iran when they went down by nineteen goals to nil. This was a new record for World Cup matches beating Iran's previous seventeen - nil win over Maldives Republic in 1997.
Their second match did not go much better when they lost by sixteen goals to nil against Tajikistan.
In the deciding match Iran beat Tajikistan by a more reasonable 2 - 0 to become the first Asian team through to the second round of the Confederation matches.
Apart from the CONCACAF play off match between Guatemala and Costa Rica, there is now a break in World Cup matches until the end of January when the second round of the CAF (African) Confederation gets under way. There are then plenty of matches to look forward to every month until November 2001.