Good bets on Cranes, Nigeria

What you need to know:

Having only missed out on automatic qualification on goal difference to free scoring Bosnia, the Greeks should be able to take care of resurgent Romania.

Africa
Nigeria vs. Ethiopia
Ethiopia must still be angry at themselves for not making more of home advantage after a bubbly start against Nigeria in Addis. A combination of indecisive refereeing, poor finishing and a lack of staying power put paid to their chances of a shock appearance at the World Cup, and the Super Eagles will be feeling good about completing the double on them tomorrow. Home win

Senegal vs. Ivory Coast
‘Home’ is far away from home for Senegal (ironically thanks in no small part to the Ivory Coast), and there will not be much comfort in Morocco. Belying the intensity of a derby, Senegal started off timidly in Ivory Coast in the first leg, leaving it too late to show any sort of defiance. They will fare much better in this one, but it just won’t be enough. Draw

Cameroon vs. Tunisia
A good performance by Samuel Etoo’o and co was somewhat spoilt by the inability to finish off chances in Tunisia, but with a better formation and considerably more support for Pierre Webo upfront the Indomitable Lions should be able to squeeze through. With a scoreless 1st leg this is the African tie with the biggest potential for the upset, so Cameroon beware. Home win

Egypt vs. Ghana
The 1st leg was an outright disaster for The Pharaohs, and this World Cup berth is virtually sewn up. They are playing for pride in Egypt, but boy are they proud over there. They will be totally unrecognisable from the ones vanquished in Ghana, but it will be of scant consolation in the end. Home win

Algeria vs. Burkina Faso
They might have lost the first leg, but in scoring two away goals Algeria gave themselves a big chance of returning to a stage they have graced and not disgraced a few times - the World Cup. This return leg promises to be the most exciting of the African playoffs again, and it would take a great effort and good fortune for Burkina Faso to hang onto their slim lead. Hard to see them managing that. Home win

Europe:
Greece vs. Romania
Having only missed out on automatic qualification on goal difference to free scoring Bosnia, the Greeks should be able to take care of resurgent Romania. I don’t insist on names like Vasilis Torosidis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kostas Katsouranis, Giorgios Karagounis, Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgios Samaras just because they roll off the tongue sweetly (they do though). Their vast experience will settle this. Home win

Ukraine vs. France
Controversy followed them around as it usually does, but had it not been for the presence of world champions Spain in the same group the French would already be on the plane to Brazil. Ukraine have a good mix of youth and experience and are a difficult proposition at home, but France’s quality should see them edge this. Away win

Portugal vs. Sweden
Among the unseeded teams, perennial playoff campaigners Portugal had hoped to avoid France and Sweden, and land either Romania or Iceland. It wasn’t to be, so they will have to tough it out against an organised, inspired, tough-as-nails outfit led by the gifted and inform Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It is one of the great mysteries that Cristiano Ronaldo and his troops are goal shy in Portugal colours, but they will just about edge the home leg.

Iceland vs. Croatia
They have over-achieved in getting to the playoffs, but try telling Iceland that this is as far as they will go. Swedish coach Carl Lagerback has got this tiny nation believing that the World Cup is their destiny, and in truth stranger things have happened. Yet in reality I don’t see them overcoming Croatia over two legs, or even winning the home leg in Reykjavik outright. Away draw

S. America/Asia
New Zealand vs. Mexico
They were annihilated in Mexico on Wednesday and are out of the reckoning, so New Zealand will be out to save face at home and do some damage control on Tuesday. Problem for them is that Mexico will most likely give some reserve players a chance to make their case for a World Cup berth, and they too will be merciless. ‘Over’

Uruguay vs. Jordan
Poor Jordan were overmatched in their backyard in Amman, and now make the arduous trip to Montevideo for matters academic. The worrying bit for them is that Uruguay scored five away goals without Luis Suarez or Diego Forlan striking, and with Edinson Cavani only getting one in the 90th minute. They had better hope that Oscar Tabarez leaves the trio out on Wednesday. Even then … ‘Over’

Friendlies:
Uganda vs. Rwanda ent
Rwanda’s adopted striker Meddie Kagere knows how to find the net, and with experienced and gifted playmaker Haruna Niyonzima pulling the strings the Amavubi can play the game beautifully. They are always inspired when they face Uganda, and the reverse is true. And if there was to be any complacency to creep into the Cranes ranks, Coach Micho Sredojevic will get rid of it as he has an axe to grind with his former employers. Most importantly, Uganda just does not lose at Namboole. Home win

Italy vs. Germany
This clash of two of the true heavyweights of world football has historically favoured Italy, regardless of how well Germany have been playing going into those clashes. By and large, the Germans have the better ensemble again, and have been in better form lately. Yet Italy will better them again tonight. Home win

England vs. Chile
This one tonight will be a good pointer towards what England should expect in Brazil next year, with technically superior teams giving them the runaround in the possession stakes. But this is a test they will pass, at least where the result is concerned. Home win

England vs. Germany
Like Italy vs Germany, here is another clash steeped in history with its fair share of drama over the years. This particular one on Tuesday takes place at Wembley, the battle ground most used by these two in their ongoing feud. Typical of the twists it has thrown up, Germany will triumph this time. Away win

Today
Czech Republic vs. Canada:
‘Over’

Argentina vs. Ecuador:
Home win

Scotland vs. USA:
Away win

Saturday
Equatoria Guinea vs. Spain:
‘Over’

Brazil vs. Honduras: ‘Over

Monday
Italy vs Nigeria: Home win

Argentina vs Bosnia: ‘Over’

Tuesday
South Africa vs. Spain:
Away win

Belgium vs. Japan: ‘Over’

Brazil vs. Chile: Home win

Netherlands vs. Colombia:
Home win

Russia vs. South Korea
Draw

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