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Big Chaco
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I'm back and its now to examine the juiciest group of the round. Group B with Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras and Canada. This is the only group where each team has participated in the World Cup. Also, all the attention (and pressure) will be put on Mr. Eriksson to see how will manage in a totally different landscape. Finally, in my opinion, the team that gets out of this group will have a good chance of grabbing that 3rd and final automatic spot to South Africa.

First the favorites: Mexico.
Mexico--The tricolor should win the group but it won't be a cake-walk. So far, the most recent call-up by Sven has only domestic players but he says that he will call up the Europe-based players when possible. Eriksson in my opinion will work well in Mexico. He won't show immediate results, but they will come. Mexicans are by far the most tactical and technical team in CONCACAF. No team comes close in my opinion, so they should benefit from Sven's coaching. While the attention will be on the golden boys like Carlos Vela, Giovanni Dos Santos and Andres Guardado, the player to watch for me will be Cruz Azul player Cesar Villaluz. A fundamental piece to the U-17 championship from a few years back, Villaluz reminds me of Luis Garcia. For all who don't know who Luis Garcia was, he was the USA's worst nightmare. Villaluz can create from the wing or up the middle. A great passer of the ball with incredible technique.

Honduras: Honduras should have qualified for the past two World Cups. In 2002, they were closing in on the 3rd qualifying spot but collapsed. In 2006, they were surprising ousted early. Now, they seem more consistent and confident. And I bet they are happy to play Mexico in the first and last game of this round. Amado Guevara will be the creative force in the offense and if he links up well with David Suazo (Cagliari and Inter Milan), then Honduras will provide some entertaining football. Defense is always iffy with Honduras however. The catrachos also have solid midfielders such as Wilson Palacios of Wigan (recommended by Arsene Wenger) and De Leon who plays in Parma. Finally, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa are rough places to play for everybody.

Canada: I really wish Canada was in a different group because this just seems unfair. The reason why they were put in such a group has been because of the weak results in past qualifying campaigns. Unfortunately, Gold Cup performances aren't taken into account. Canada is improving and improving before our eyes. Almost like the USA of the early 90s. What must hurt Canada is that John De Guzman of Feyenoord opted to play for the Dutch instead of Canada. He will be featured in the Dutch Olympic team. What has been Canada's achilles heel has been the road. Canada MUST get points on the road. Player to watch is Julian De Guzman of Deportivo La Coru??a. He went from a mediocre midfielder to an outstanding midfielder over the course of the last La Liga campaign. All credit to coach Lotina for keeping faith in him. DeGuzman will be vital in the Canadian midfield, especially when they play fast teams like Jamaica and Honduras.

Jamaica: The wild card of the group. The coach who guided Jamaica to the 1998 WC in France, Brazilian Rene Simoes, is back at the helm. Jamaica's players usually ply their trade on the island or in England's Championship League. Always athletic and unpredictable, who knows how Jamaica will play. If they play with confidence, it will make the group much more fun.

The Schedule: Mexico should be glad that they don't travel to Honduras until the last fixture. They should clinch 1st or 2nd place by then. Mexico hasn't had good experiences in Honduras. In 2001, a young Carlos Pavon simply tormented Mexico with a hat-trick. Unfortunately for Canada, they play two home games early so they won't be able to use the cold weather to their advantage. The game to watch will be on October 11 when Canada travels to Honduras. If Canada wants it, they better get it in Honduras.

I'll be excited to see Sven in hostile Honduras. This isn't Europe my friend. My prediction: Mexico and Honduras move on what will be a wild qualifying round!

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