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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
All still to play for
By Tim Vickery

GROUP STANDINGS 4 OCTOBER
Ronaldinho, Alex and Roberto Carlos celebrate success with Brazil
Brazil P8 W4 D4 L0 16
Argentina P8 W4 D3 L1 15
Paraguay P8 W4 D2 L2 14
Chile P8 W3 D3 L2 12
Ecuador P8 W3 D1 L4 10
Venezuela P8 W3 D1 L4 10
Uruguay P8 W3 D1 L4 10
Peru P8 W2 D3 L3 9
Colombia P8 W2 D2 L4 8
Bolivia P8 W2 D0 L6 6

When it comes to World Cup qualification in South America nobody is merely making up the numbers.

Nowadays all ten of the continent's countries go into the campaign aiming to qualify and at all are still in contention.

Though that could change by the middle of next week, as two rounds are played and the campaign moves past the half-way stage.

It is a vital few days, then, for those countries at the wrong end of the table.

Second from bottom Colombia have shown massive improvement since losing their first three games.

They changed their coach, and have suffered just one defeat in the subsequent five rounds.

That kind of form, if they can keep it up, should be good enough to win them a place in Germany.

But there are plenty of difficult games ahead - like next week's trip to Brazil.

The world champions may well have been better advised to stage the game in the south of their giant country as conditions in Maceió, in the north, could be to the liking of the Colombians.

But Brazil have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home and Colombia will regard anything they bring back from the game as a bonus.

It means the pressure is on Colombia this weekend when they host Paraguay in the steaming port of Barranquilla.

It is good news indeed that Juan Pablo Angel, so important to their attack, should be back after missing the last three rounds.

Two points behind Colombia, the situation of Bolivia is even more desperate.

But they have one significant advantage.

Of the eight rounds played so far, Bolivia have only been at home in three.

Nobody likes visiting their mountain stronghold of La Paz, some 3,600 metres above sea level.

It is where they pick up nearly all of their points and Bolivia are at home in both the forthcoming rounds.

Their opponents, Peru and Uruguay, face two difficult away games.

In addition to the trip to La Paz, Uruguay travel to face Argentina this Saturday, while Peru are away to Paraguay next week.

Erwin Sanchez in action for Boavista
Sanchez is back for Bolivia but can he lead them to Germany?
If Bolivia win their two games the chances are they will leap-frog over both their opponents in the table, and be right back in contention for a World Cup slot.

The last time they qualified was in 1994, and they have now remarkably recalled one of the heroes of that victorious campaign.

Elegant attacking midfielder Erwin 'Platini' Sanchez is almost certainly the outstanding Bolivian player of recent years.

After a successful career in Portugal he hung up his boots and became the coach of his final club, Boavista.

All coaches lose their job sooner or later - in his case it was sooner.

He decided to take up playing once more and returned to Bolivia to join Oriente Petrolero.

A decade ago he produced an excellent performance as Bolivia were somewhat unlucky to lose the opening game of the 1994 World Cup against Germany.

Now Germany is the aim once more as Sanchez seeks to lift his country off the bottom of the qualification table.



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