World Cup playoffs: A stop in purgatory before Brazil 2014

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    Brazil 2014 qualifiers are now done, but there is a list of teams that will need to go through the purgatory of the final playoff before being able to taste success and, officially, make it to the World Cup next summer.

    On the other hand, half of the teams that still have high hopes of traveling to Brazil will end up staying home, and for them –perhaps– this final playoff will be the cruelest way to let go of the dream of competing at the highest international level. It will mean that all the effort put forth up until now goes down the drain, and they’ll have to wait another four years to have the chance to prove themselves.

    Here are the top teams looking to jump past the last hurdle on their race to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:

    Mexico will face New Zealand for a trip to the World Cup.

    Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, right, reacts as after the referee disallowed a goal during a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

    Mexico: The most unthinkable scenario occurred, and Mexico lost in Costa Rica, in the last game of the qualifying group. Unthinkable because Mexico imperiously needed a victory, while the Ticos were already qualified, but also due to the fact that Costa Rica had not beat El Tri in 21 years. Chicharito Hernandez personified the tragedy as he missed an open goal shot, and Mexico was simply not able to make it past ticos. The US beat Panama in over time, giving their historic rivals the chance to make to the Inter-Federation playoff and face New Zealand. Vucetich sure has a lot of work ahead of him should his team make it past the Southern Pacific squad.

    Uruguay will have to Jordan for a spot in the 2014 World Cup.

    Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Argentina during a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer game in Montevideo, Uruguay, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

    Uruguay: When the best team in South America between 2010 and 2012, and the second best team in the world according to the FIFA Ranking decides to take a full year off during the qualifiers, it is not uncommon to see them end up in the final playoff spot. Uruguay will have to face Jordan in the Inter-Federation match up, but at least they have shown that they are ready to battle again.

    “La Celeste” did not manage to win a single match between June 2012 and June 2013, but after beating Venezuela this summer, they managed to win every game they played except the one in Quito against Ecuador. The last game of the group, in Montevideo against Argentina, showed just how far the Charrua gene can take the team, as few squads have proven to have more guts than Uruguay. They should make it past Jordan and into the Brazilian celebration without a hiccup.

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