So Group A of the 2011 WCP Cup comes down to El Salvador vs. Laos on Saturday night at 10 p.m. That's right, the playoff hopes for three teams will all depend on the last game of the best day of the tournament. I'm excited and worried at the same time. On the one hand, its a fantastic bookend to Canada vs Ukraine, 7 p.m.; Jamaica vs Poland, 8 p.m., and Afghanistan vs Nigeria, 9 p.m. On the other hand, the game will likely only start at 10:30 at the earliest and there's a good chance I'll be too inebriated to fully appreciate it.
At stake for Laos: Laos is sitting pretty right now. Thanks to starting 4-0, the Laosians are guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals, so there isn't quite so much pressure. The problem is, thanks to the Greece tie of France, the Group C finishing order will still be up in the air, so Laos won't know if it wants to finish first or second in Group A. I'm guessing France finishes first in Group C because of goal differential, so no way does Laos want to slip into second place with a loss to El Salvador.
At stake for El Salvador: This is a can't lose game. If El Salvador wins, it finishes first in Group A based on head-to-head with Laos. If ES ties, it finishes a comfortable second and will cross over to face France. If ES loses, it's out because of the 6-3 loss to Sudan. Both teams would likely finish (Sudan still has a final game on Monday night against N. Ireland) with nine points, but because of the head-to-head, Sudan would take second place.
At stake for Sudan: El Salvador has to lose for Sudan to make it through. Thanks to Sudan's choke job against Colombia, the Sudanese now have no control over their tournament fate. They played well, but the chances of advancing to the quarterfinals are slim. Plus, while I doubt it will happen, there's still the possibility Sudan loses its final game on Monday night.