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Nations battling for final 2010 places

Nine more teams will try and qualify for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.
Nine more teams will try and qualify for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four more qualification places for World Cup to be decided this weekend
  • Three African nations and either New Zealand or Bahrain will seal places
  • The first legs of the European qualifying play-off ties will also be played

(CNN) -- The final 32 for next summer's World Cup finals will become a bit clearer after this weekend's round of qualifying matches -- with four of the nine remaining places available for South Africa 2010 to be determined over the next 48 hours.

Coming into the weekend, 23 nations had already booked their tickets for the finals and the tournament promises to be a real football extravaganza with top teams of the caliber of Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, England, the Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Ghana already securing their places.

While some famous footballing names can relax in the knowledge that qualification is assured, others face a nail-biting few days -- Wednesday is the final day of qualifying -- to see if they too can join world football's biggest party.

Africa:

Two teams; Ivory Coast and Ghana, have already qualified from Africa's five qualifying groups, while host nation South Africa are obviously already there, which means three other nations will seal their places this weekend.

Group One:

Either Cameroon or Gabon will qualify from this group, but both face tricky final round matches.

Cameroon lead the table with 10 points, one ahead of Gabon, and as long as the Indomitable Lions better Gabon's result, they will book their place.

However, neither have an easy match on Saturday, with Cameroon travelling to Morocco and Gabon away in Togo.

If Cameron win, they have qualified, but if they fail to win and Gabon triumph in Togo -- then the Panthers will qualify. If the two teams finish level on 10 points, Cameroon go through courtesy of a better head-to-head record.

Group Two:

Tunisia lead Nigeria by two points going into Saturday's matches and a point at Mozambique will be enough for the North African nation to qualify courtesy of a better head-to-head record.

Nigeria need to win in Kenya -- and hope Tunisia suffer a shock defeat in Mozambique -- to snatch a qualification place by a single point.

Group Three:

Group C is the most dramatic of the groups with the top two, bitter rivals Egypt and Algeria, going head-to-head in the final qualifier in Cairo.

Algeria are three points ahead of their neighbors and will qualify if they win, draw or lose by a single goal.

If Egypt win by two goals, the teams will play again on Wednesday in a one-off match, as their records will be identical. And if Egypt win by more than two goals, then they will snatch the qualifying place from Algeria.

Meanwhile, the top two teams in each group also qualify for January's African Cup of Nations. Nine of the 10 qualifiers have been decided for this, with Mali and Benin scrambling for the right to finish second in Group Four.

Asia/Oceania play-off:

New Zealand face Bahrain in Wellington with the winners also securing their place in South Africa. Last month's first leg in Manama ended 0-0 which means a score-draw will be enough for Bahrain to qualify. Another 0-0 draw after 120 minutes sees the tie settled by penalties.

European play-offs:

The top eight runners-up teams from European qualifying will play the first leg of their play-offs on Saturday.

Russia entertain Slovenia, Greece play Ukraine, Ireland play France and Portugal -- who will be without the world's most expensive player Cristiano Ronaldo through injury -- face Bosnia.

The second-leg matches take place on Wednesday when the four teams with the best two-legged results will seal their places.

South American/CONCACAF play-off:

Costa Rica, who finished fourth in North/Central American qualifying will play host to Uruguay -- who were fifth in South American qualifying -- in the first leg of their two-legged play-off at the weekend.

The return leg is on Wednesday the 18th November where the country with the better two-legged score will book their place in the finals.