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CONCACAF Teams Prepare for Key World Cup Qualifying Matches


Six teams are set to battle for three remaining berths Wednesday night in the final round of regional World Cup football (soccer) qualifying in the North, Central America and Caribbean region - also known as CONCACAF. VOA Sport Editor Parke Brewer has details.

Only the top two teams from each of CONCACAF's three four-nation groups will still be alive for a berth in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Three of the places in the final round of qualifying in 2009 have already been determined heading in the final group matches. Costa Rica and El Salvador are through from Group C and the United States is assured of advancing from Group A.

Guatemala needs to beat the U.S. soccer team in Denver, Colorado (8:00 p.m. ET kick-off) and hope Cuba upsets host Trinidad and Tobago. Otherwise, the Trinidadians advance.

Since Guatemala has to have a win, U.S. coach Bob Bradley knows the game will be tough.

"Guatemala has put themselves in a tough position by losing their last game to Cuba," Bradley said. "They do not have a great chance to move on to the next round. They have changed coaches and changed some of the players, and I think they will come in with an aggressive attitude."

Both berths from Group B are still up for grabs, but first place Mexico, with 10 points, is in the best position. The Mexicans need only a draw against host Honduras, which has nine points. Honduras can get through with a draw, depending on third-placed Jamaica's result against visiting Canada, which has no chance to qualify. Jamaica has seven points and even with a win will have a difficult chance to advance because of its poor goal differential.

The six advancing CONCACAF teams will play in one round-robin group in 2009, and the top three will gain 2010 World Cup berths. The fourth-placed team will play off against the fifth-placed South American team for another berth.

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