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Thursday 14 November 2013

2014 World Cup: Premier League stars set for play-offs

Up to 41 Barclays Premier League players could feature as final 11 World Cup places decided

  • Liverpool's Luis Suarez is replaced by Diego Forlan after helping Uruguay beat Jordan

  • Newcastle trio Loic Remy, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy are in France's squad

  • Sebastian Larsson is one of five Barclays Premier League players called up for Sweden

  • Ghana's Michael Essien (left) and Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o are vying for qualification

A host of Barclays Premier League stars will be representing their nations as they compete for the final 11 places at next summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil this week.

Up to 41 players plying their trade in the Barclays Premier League have been selected this week by the national teams. Host nation Brazil and 20 other nations have confirmed their passage next summer, and premierleague.com gives a lowdown of those who could join them from the Barclays Premier League.

South America/Asia

CONMEBOL/AFC play-off – Uruguay (5) v Jordan (0)

A trio of Barclays Premier League stars are all but assured of a place at next summer’s World Cup after helping Uruguay earn an emphatic 5-0 away victory over Asian play-off hopefuls Jordan. Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and West Bromwich Albion defender Diego Lugano started as the two-time World Cup winners took control in Amman. Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez came off the bench with the score at 3-0 with 20 minutes left. Jordan travel to Montevideo in the return leg on 20 November. Liverpool's Sebastian Coates was not involved for Uruguay due to injury but will hope to compete for a place in Brazil should qualification be confirmed in the return leg next week.

Oceania/North and Central America

Oceania play-off/CONCACAF – New Zealand (1) v Mexico (5)

Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez should also be pushing for a place in Brazil next summer after Mexico won the first leg of their World Cup play-off with Oceania group winners New Zealand 5-1 in the Azteca Stadium last night. Hernandez was omitted from a play-off squad made up purely of players from the domestic league, but the two-time Barclays Premier League title winner is a favourite to feature in Brazil if Mexico can avoid a shock recovery by the All Whites in Christchurch.

Europe

Four more World Cup spots are up for grabs in the European qualification section and 24 Barclays Premier League players have been called up for four two-legged play-off ties between the top eight runners-up of the European qualifying group phase.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Cardiff City’s Aron Gunnarsson will be hoping to lead Iceland to the World Cup finals for the first time as they take on Croatia, who finished third in the 1998 World Cup. Southampton defender Dejan Lovren and Everton striker Nikica Jelavic will be hoping to thwart Iceland and secure their place in next summer’s tournament.

Five Swedish stars from the Barclays Premier League - Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson, Norwich City duo Johan Elmander and Martin Olsson, West Bromwich Albion centre-back Jonas Olsson and Fulham’s Alexander Kacaniklic – will travel to Lisbon on 15 November as they take on two-time World Cup semi-finalists Portugal. Man Utd winger Nani will be up against the Swedes, who host the second leg in Solna four days later.

Up to 11 Barclays Premier League players could feature for France as they take on Ukraine in their two-legged play-off tie. Arsenal duo Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny are among the squad players for Les Bleus, who also have Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy from Newcastle United – the most represented English club in the play-off stages. Manchester City duo Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri, Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho, Man Utd's Patrice Evra and Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris complete the Barclays Premier League representation in the French squad.

Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis will be pitting his wits against Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon and West Ham United defender Razvan Rat as Greece take on Romania. Spurs defender Vlad Chiriches misses out for the Romanians through injury but, as captain of the national team, the North Londoners’ summer signing will be sure of a place in the World Cup finals squad, should they defeat Greece over two legs.

Africa

A quartet of Barclays Premier League players have been selected by Nigeria who play at Calabar, looking to hold on to a 2-1 lead for their second leg of the play-off tie against Ethiopia. The fixture is the third phase of qualifying in Africa, as the 10 group winners in the second phase compete for five places in next summer’s competition. Chelsea duo John Mikel Obi and Kenneth Omeruo, Victor Moses, who is on loan at Liverpool from Chelsea, and Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi will be hoping to feature for the Nigerians.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, his brother Kolo, from Liverpool, and Swansea City striker Wilfried Bony have helped Ivory Coast take a commanding 3-1 lead into their second leg with Senegal, and they are in the squad for the return leg. Newcastle striker Papiss Demba Cisse and West Ham’s Mohamed Diame will be hoping to inspire a comeback for Senegal.

Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o will be aiming to lead Cameroon to their seventh World Cup finals with a victory over Tunisia. They drew 0-0 in the first leg and Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who is on loan at Championship side Queens Park Rangers, could also feature.

Eto’o’s Chelsea teammate Michael Essien and his Ghana side look set to confirm their World Cup qualification this week as they travel to Cairo to face Egypt with a 6-1 lead. Blues midfielder Christian Atsu, on loan at Dutch side Vitesse, is also in the Ghana squad while Hull City striker Gedo is in Egypt's.

Crystal Palace midfielder Adlene Guedioura, who is sidelined through injury, will be cheering on Algeria as they seek to overturn a 3-2 deficit against Burkina Faso, who have never competed in the World Cup finals.

World Cup qualifying results

13 November

Asia/South America play-off first leg
Jordan 0-5 Uruguay

North and Central America/Oceania play-off first leg
Mexico 5-1 New Zealand

World Cup qualifying fixtures

15 November

European play-off first legs
Iceland v Croatia, 1900 BST
Portugal v Ukraine, 1945 BST
Ukraine v France, 2145 BST
Greece v Romania, 2145 BST

16 November

African play-off second legs
Nigeria (2) v Ethiopia (1), 1600 BST
Senegal (1) v Ivory Coast (3), 1900 BST

17 November

African play-off second leg
Cameroon (0) v Tunisia (0), 1500 BST

19 November

African play-off second legs
Egypt (1) v Ghana (6), 1800 BST
Algeria (2) v Burkina Faso (3), 1915 BST

European play-off second legs
Croatia v Iceland, 2015 BST
Sweden v Portugal, 2045 BST
France v Ukraine, 2100 BST
Romania v Greece, 2100 BST

20 November

North and Central America/Oceania play-off second leg
New Zealand (1) v Mexico (5)

Asia/South America play-off second leg
Uruguay (5) v Jordan (0)

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Key Points

  • There are 41 Barclays Premier League players called up for play-offs for the 2014 FIFA World Cup
  • The final 11 places at next summer's tournament in Brazil are up for grabs
  • Nations from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, Oceania and South America competing in the play-offs