Hours after Lionel Messi was suspended by FIFA for four World Cup qualifiers, Argentina lost 2-0 to Bolivia in the altitude of La Paz and heightened the side's chances of facing the All Whites for a spot in Russia 2018.

Argentina remained on 22 points in South American qualifying with four matches to play, and coach Edgardo Bauza is under pressure to step aside with the team dropping to fifth spot.

South America has four direct spots at the World Cup, and the fifth-ranked team goes into an inter-continental playoff against the Oceania qualifying winner for another spot at Russia next year.

That Oceania qualifying winner could be the All Whites after they booked a spot in the next phase following a 2-0 win over Fiji last night. New Zealand will likely face Tahiti in home and away ties to meet the South American fifth-placed side.


While Argentina struggled, Colombia had a 2-0 win at Ecuador, posting its first win in Quito in 20 years. Chile beat Venezuela 3-1 to also leap-frog Argentina.

The result opened the prospect of a possible early qualification for Brazil, which has won seven straight and has 30 points from 13 matches in qualifying.

- AP