Sunday, April 05, 2009

Socceroos: A beautiful set of numbers

Five teams will represent Asia at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Two will come from group A and two from group B. The fifth team will have a torturous set of matches between now and the World Cup kick off over the next 12 months.

The fifth spot will be filled by either a team that comes 3rd in group A or B or a team from the Oceania group (the group the Socceroos were part of for the 2006 World Cup). The 3rd placed teams in group A and B will play each other for the right to play New Zealand - the winning team from Oceania. The winner of this home/away set will join the other 4 teams at the World Cup 2010.

So you don't want to come 3rd in your Asian group. You will be fighting for the final spot for a year.

The chance that the Socceroos will come 3rd rather than 1st or 2nd is very low. Here is the maths.

The points and goal differences are:
Australia 13 points and 8 goal difference
Japan 11 points and 5 goal difference
Bahrain 7 points and -1 goal difference

If the Socceroos score another point, the minimum is one draw and two losses, we will qualify.

From here, any team getting to 14 points will be top 2. The maximum points Bahrain can get is 13 points. Australia and Japan both have 3 games to play, this includes playing each other in Australia. The only other team that can finish in the top 2 is Bahrain. Bahrain has only 2 games to play.

If Bahrain wins both its matches, against Australia on June 10 and Uzbekistan on 17 June, it gets to 13 points. It could qualify ahead of Australia as long as it reverses the 9 goal difference.

Scenario 1:
Qatar 1 v Socceroos 0
Socceroos 0 v Bahrain 1
Socceroos 0 v Japan 1
Bahrain 6 v Uzbekistan 0

Under this scenario Japan must finish top and Bahrain second.

If Japan wins one game, or draws all three, it will qualify.

The 2nd scenario is the easiest for Bahrain to qualify top 2. Over Japan, both on 11 points and on goal difference. The minimum for Bahrain to qualify is a win and a draw and Japan loose all three games. And Bahrain pick-up a significant goal difference boost to take Japan's spot.

Scenario 2:
Socceroos 1 v Bahrain 1
Uzbekistan 1 v Japan 0
Japan 0 v Qatar 1
Socceroos 1 v Japan 0
Bahrain 3 v Uzbekistan 0

Under this scenario, the Socceroos qualify without needed extra points but would get at least 3 - from beating Japan. The problems are Qatar suddenly getting good enough to beat Japan away. And the Uzbeks beating Japan at home but losing to Bahrain. Going into this last match the Uzbeks would have a shot at 3rd and would be playing their hearts out.

In the 3rd scenario, Bahrain give themselves more room. They win both games and get to 13 points. They can then afford for Japan to draw 2 games and lose one, as long as they reverse the goal difference. If not, they can only afford Japan to get 1 point from its 9.

Scenario 3:
Socceroos 0 v Bahrain 1
Uzbekistan 1 v Japan 0
Japan 0 v Qatar 0
Socceroos 0 v Japan 0
Bahrain 4 v Uzbekistan 0

Japan's draws mean that Bahrain must score more goals to get the goal difference back.

Under the most likely scenario, based on the games so far, Bahrain or Uzbekistan or, unlikely of unlikely, Qatar will take 3rd.

Scenario 4:
Qatar 0 v Socceroos 4
Uzbekistan 1 v Japan 1
Japan 3 v Qatar 0
Socceroos 1 v Bahrain 0
Socceroos 0 v Japan 0
Bahrain 1 v Uzbekistan 0

The points and goal differences from scenario 4:

Australia 20 points and 13 goal difference
Japan 16 points and 8 goal difference
Bahrain 10 points and -1 goal difference

An interesting note from the results so far, through its matches New Zealand lost twice to Fiji (rd 1 and 2).

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