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The CONCACAF side and World Cup regulars are expected to account for Ricki Herbert's team over two legs, while Uruguay are expected to brush aside Jordan

New Zealand are at huge odds to qualify for their second successive World Cup Finals when they take on the might of Mexico over two legs - starting with the first leg in Mexico City on Thursday morning (Australian time).

The All Whites pulled off a miracle four years ago when they not only beat Bahrain over two legs in the intercontinental play-off to qualify for their first World Cup since 1982 but then went unbeaten during the group stages in South Africa - including a draw against then defending champions Italy.

However despite drawing all three group games in South Africa, New Zealand failed to progress to the knockout stages but have given themselves a chance of making it to Brazil next year by again winning the weak Oceania confederation.

But unlike four years ago when they face the fifth-placed team from Asia for a spot at the 2010 World Cup, this time the All Whites have to face the fourth ranked team from the much tougher North and Central American and Caribbean region (CONCACAF).

And in a major shock that team has turned out to be perennial World Cup qualifiers Mexico, who have reached the last 16 in each of the past five World Cups.

Mexico however struggled in the final phase of qualifying - winning just two, drawing five and losing three of their ten matches - to finish just ahead of Panama in fourth spot and well behind the three automatic qualifiers in USA, Costa Rica and Hondura.

But given they are still ranked a healthy 24 in the FIFA world rankings, compared to 79 for New Zealand, they are the warm favourites to prevail over the two legs against the All Whites.

Mexico are paying just $1.07 at bet365 in the 'To Qualify' market while New Zealand are at massive odds of $8.50.

However New Zealand are not without a chance if they can survive Wednesday night's daunting away first leg in Mexico City.

The home side are the dominant favourites at $1.18 to win the first leg at bet365 compared to $13 for the Kiwis, with the draw paying $7.

However Mexico have surprisingly named a squad featuring entirely home based players meaning no place for their overseas based stars such as Manchester United's Javier Hernandez and former Tottenham and now Villarreal striker Giovanni Dos Santos.

In contrast the All Whites will be at full strength with their squad led by West Ham defender Winston Reid and Leicester City striker Chris Wood as well as former Melbourne Victory star and now Stuttgart based Marco Rojas.

The All Whites will also have a healthy A-League contingent in their line-up led by Perth Glory target man Shane Smeltz as well as six players from Wellingto Phoenix - led by keeper Glen Moss.

Mexico are favoured to win the first leg 2-0 at odds of $6 at bet365 but if the All Whites can restrict the first leg deficit to 1-0 - odds of $7 in correct score betting - or even better still score an away goal then they will be in with a great chance in the second leg in Wellington next Wednesday night.

A 2-1 win for Mexico in the first leg at odds of $8.50 at bet365 would mean New Zealand would only need to win the second leg 1-0 at home to progress to the World Cup Finals once again.

BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
VALUE BET

Back Mexico and Uruguay to win their first leg World Cup intercontinental play-offs at bet365

Back Mexico to win the first leg 1-0 at odds of $7 in correct score betting but the All Whites are worth a small wager at $8.50 to qualify over the two legs


But while the All Whites have a real chance of upsetting one of the weakest Mexico sides in decades to reach the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, the other intercontinental play-off looks a hopeless mismatch.

That will see the fifth placed team from the modest Asian confederation - which the struggling Socceroos even managed to qualify from - up against the fifth-placed team from the powerful South American confederation.

That team is once again Uruguay, who Australia famously beat over two legs to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and lost to over two legs in a bid to reach the 2002 World Cup.

But Uruguay, semi-finalists at the last World Cup in South Africa, are ranked number six in the world and are led up front by two of the best strikers in Europe in Liverpool's Luiz Suarez and PSG's Edison Cavani.

They are ranked a staggering 64 places higher than Jordan - which have never reached the World Cup - and are as short as $1.22 to win the first leg away from home at bet365 on Wednesday night.

Jordan are paying $13 to win the first leg, even at home, and are the same price to qualify over the two legs with Uruguay the dominant favourites at $1.04.

*Note prices subject to change

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