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After a break in December the World Cup 2002 Preliminary Round matches got underway again when on 6th January Guatemala played Costa Rica in a play off match to decide the remaining place in the CONCACAF final round of group matches.

After finishing their semi-final round with the same number of points and the same goal difference, and having both won at home against each other by two goals to one, Costa Rica finally made their way through winning 5 - 2 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

After Carlos Ruiz had put Guatemala ahead after just 4 minutes, a goal by Paulo Wanchope just three minutes later and another by Rolando Fonseca late in the first half meant that Costa Rica turned round with a slender one goal lead.

The turning point came in the 50th minute when Guatemala had German Ruano sent off. Within 10 minutes Costa Rica had increased their lead with two goals in the space of two minutes, and a further goal after 73 minutes saw them through despite a late strike by Carlos Ruiz.

The first three of the final group matches take place at the end of February.

The only other Confederation to play any matches this month was the CAF (African) Confederation, with ten matches taking place over the final weekend.

There were actually 11 matches played but the match between Madagascar and Cote D'Ivoire in Antananarivo on 27th was washed out after 61 minutes with the home side winning by a single goal. When the match was replayed the following day, it was the visitors who went away with the points after a 3 - 1 victory.

In the other Group D match Tunisia travelled to Congo and won by the odd goal in three.

In Group A Cameroon confirmed there status as the Confederations top team winning 2 - 0 in Togo, while Angola maintained their second spot in the table with a 3 - 1 win at home to Libya.

Looking for their third consecutive World Cup appearance, Nigeria won by three clear goals at home to Sudan while the surprise team of Group B Liberia won by 3 - 1 in Ghana.

Algeria notched up their first win in Group C thanks to a single goal victory at home to Namibia, while Egypt got their second point in two matches as a result of a goalless draw at home to neighbours Morocco.

South Africa made it two wins in two matches when a Shaun Bartlett goal proved enough to beat visitors Burkina Faso, but despite being held to a 1 - 1 draw at home to Malawi, Guinea stay top of Group E by a single point.

Ten further matches in this Confederation will be played during February.

February will also see 24 matches being played in the AFC (Asian) Confederation.

All of the Group 4 matches will be completed by the end of the month following competitions in both Singapore and Kuwait.

Group 10 will be decided over an eleven day period in Saudi Arabia where the four countries will compete in a round robin tournament of 12 matches.

Belgium play host to San Marino and Andorra visit Portugal in the only UEFA (European) matches in February.