With qualifying in CONCACAF about to enter the group phase, it's time to cast an eye on the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the World Cup. The fifth-placed team in that region will play a two-match series against the fourth-placed team in the Hexagonal for a spot in South Africa. After six of eighteen matches complete, fifth place is occupied by...Brazil?! Yes, the one point gained from their recent qualifiers against Paraguay and Argentina, combined with Chile taking full points from their pair of matches, has moved the five-time world champions into the playoff slot on nine points. It's very possible -- okay, very likely -- that Brazil will be back in the automatic qualification places by the end of next year, but in the meantime their current standing will cause some discomfort among the players, coaches, and supporters.
There are a number of sides that are tightly bunched around the fifth position -- Venezuela and Uruguay are within a couple of points, and Chile and Colombia must not feel too comfortable on ten points each. There is still a very long way to go.