Soccer on TV this weekend: World Cup qualifiers take center stage

With most of the world’s top leagues pausing for the FIFA international break, the attention turns to the final qualifying matches for next summer’s World Cup.

Here are some of the best offerings on TV this weekend:

CONCACAF: The U.S. needs wins in its final two qualifiers to assure itself of a World Cup berth. It gets started on that chore Friday against Panama in Orlando, Fla. (ESPN2, Univision, 4:35 p.m. PDT). Mexico has already punched its ticket for Russia so there is little on the line for El Tri in its Friday game with last-place Trinidad and Tobago (FS1, Univision, 6:30 p.m. PDT)

UEFA: France, which has a tenuous hold on first in Group A, could improve its chances at a World Cup berth with a win over Bulgaria on Saturday (FS2, 11:45 a.m. PDT). On Sunday, Poland and Montenegro face off in their final qualifier with Poland needing a win to earn a World Cup berth while Montenegro will be fighting for a spot in a UEFA playoff (ESPN Deportes, 9 a.m. PDT)

CAF: Ivory Coast can move a big step closer to clinching its fourth consecutive World Cup invitation with a victory over winless Mali on Friday (beIN Sports, noon PDT) while on Saturday Nigeria can lock up a sixth World Cup invitation in seven tries with a win over once-beaten Zambia (beIN Sports, 9 a.m. PDT).

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