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FIFA WORLD CUP 2002 - REVIEW OF MATCHES
IN MAY 2001
Reviewed by PETER GODFREY
The end of May 2001 sees the World Cup Finals less than one year away.
The final 5 countries to go into the second round starting in August were decided during May.
Based on their FIFA ranking, Syria could have expected to progress from this group, indeed that did manage to score more goals than any other country in the group half of which came from their two matches against Laos that netted them 20 goals.
However, at the end of the day it was the defence that saw Oman through to the second round by conceding only 3 goals and those all came in a draw with Syria.
A 2 - 0 win in their last match against Syria was enough to see them head the table by three points.
This group followed a similar pattern to group 1 with Thailand winning by the odd goal in three in Lebanon and drawing the return in Bangkok 2 - 2 in the last match of the group. This saw them safely through undefeated and by a three point margin.
Turkmenistan lost only two matches in this group but unfortunately they were both to Uzbekistan whose only lost points were in two draws against Jordan. This resulted in them winning the group, by just two points.
This group was the tightest of them all. Yemen and India both won one match and lost one match against eventual group winners United Arab Emirates but, whilst both countries only lost one match against UAE's two, it was the two draws against each other that cost them both the chance of progressing into the second round and gave UAE the group by a single point.
In the final group to be decided this month China PR won all six of their matches to finish six points clear of second place Indonesia.
Ten more matches were played in this Confederation but still no-one has sufficient points to progress through to the finals.
Cameroon were stopped in their tracks when they lost their first points at the hands of second place Angola. Two second half goals were enough to give the home side victory. Togo managed their first win of the second round winning by the odd goal in five at home to Zambia.
Cameroon now require three points from their remaining matches to be sure to qualify ahead of Angola.
Nigeria gained revenge for their earlier defeat in Liberia when they beat the visitors 2 - 0 to move within two points of the visitors. Ghana continued their disappointing showing when they only managed to share two goals in Sierra Leone.
All countries but Sierra Leone still have a possibility of qualifying.
Egypt scored the only goal of the match at home to Senegal which puts them in third spot on the same number of points as their opponents. Morocco remain undefeated at the top of the group following their 2 - 1 win in Algeria.
Morocco, Senegal or Egypt all still have a chance to qualify with the crunch matches being when Morocco are at home to Egypt and away to Senegal.
There were three matches played in this group during May.
A 2 - 0 win in Madagascar and a one all home draw against Cote d'Ivoire put Tunisia on top of the table just 3 points ahead of Cote d'Ivoire. In a match that had a player from each side sent off, Congo and Congo DR shared the points thanks to an injury time goal by the visiting team.
This group is now between Tunisia and Cote d'Ivoire and having drawn both of their matches against each other, the goals they score against the remaining countries could be crucial.
Only one match in this group and that saw leaders South Africa defeat Zimbabwe to win their fourth match in a row. They just need one more point from their remaining two matches to go to World Cup 2002.
June is another busy month with matches being played in all but the AFC Confederation.
By the end of the month we should know some of the other finalists who will be joining the hosts and France at World Cup 2002.