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South African finish line in sight

Published: Wednesday 14 October 2009, 11.00CET
Slovakia or Slovenia and Switzerland or Greece will clinch Europe's last automatic FIFA World Cup places as the groups conclude on Wednesday with Portugal and Ukraine hoping for play-off berths.
South African finish line in sight
Slovenia trail Slovakia by two points in Group 3 ©Getty Images

Published: Wednesday 14 October 2009, 11.00CET

South African finish line in sight

Slovakia or Slovenia and Switzerland or Greece will clinch Europe's last automatic FIFA World Cup places as the groups conclude on Wednesday with Portugal and Ukraine hoping for play-off berths.

The European FIFA World Cup qualifying groups come to an end on Wednesday night with two automatic berths in South Africa still to be decided and the play-off lineup finalised.

Seven through
In Saturday's games, holders Italy, Denmark, Germany and Serbia joined European champions Spain, England and the Netherlands in ensuring their places at the finals which run from 11 June until 11 July next year. However, there are plenty of issues left undecided with the nine group winners going straight into the 4 December draw in Cape Town, while the eight runners-up with the best record against the top five in their pools will compete in the play-offs on 14 and 18 November.

Automatic places
Slovakia missed out on securing a place at their first major tournament since independence on Saturday when a 2-0 home loss to Slovenia reduced their Group 3 lead to two points. Should Slovakia fail to win in Poland on Wednesday, Slovenia would qualify with victory in San Marino. Meanwhile, Switzerland need a point at home to Israel to finish first in Group 2, otherwise Greece could pip them on goal difference by beating Luxembourg in Athens.

Play-off picture
Already confirmed in the play-off draw next Monday are Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, the Republic of Ireland and Russia. Portugal would join them from Group 1 by winning at home to Malta and Ukraine can pip Croatia in Group 6 with victory in Andorra. Slovakia and Switzerland are assured of play-off places should they not top their sections; otherwise respective victories would confirm slots for Slovenia and Greece. Norway, second in the completed five-team Group 9, can only be one of the eight best runners-up if Portugal lose by four goals at home to Malta and Sweden draw with Albania. For a full rundown of the group standings, click here; for a full fixture list click here.

Last updated: 13/04/12 4.21CET

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