All four groups in the 2015 World Cup will go down to the final round of matches on Friday in Wuxi.
Three teams remain in realistic contention in Groups A, B and C, while in Group D there are four nations squabbling for the two coveted spots that grant a quarter-final position in the knockout stage.
Ireland earned a convincing 4-1 victory over Germany on Thursday but it leaves them in a precarious place, level on points with Thailand, a point behind England and two adrift of leaders China B.
Ireland renew an old rivalry with England in an intriguing match where if either win with ease it will give them both a good chance of progressing, however if the result is a 3-2 then it could transpire that both traditional powerhouses of the sport will be on their way home.
That is because Thailand will be expected to take a lot, if not all, of their frames with UAE and China’s young pairing Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong would hope to continue their impressive run against Germany.
In Group C, Wales became the first team to qualify from the round-robin stage as a 4-1 win over Northern Ireland sent them five points clear of the Joe Swail-Gerard Greene unit and Australia, who are locked in a battle for the additional spot.
Should Northern Ireland beat Pakistan 5-0 and Australia overcome Wales by the same scoreline on Friday all three teams will finish on 17 points, but the Northern Irish would be eliminated as they have an inferior head-to-head record against the other two.
They still hold the upper hand, though, as their encounter with Pakistan is likely to yield more points than Australia will be able to muster against Wales.
In Group B, a single point separates the top three with Brazil just behind Belgium and Scotland, who are tied on 13 points.
The latter two countries compete against each other today while outsiders Brazil will have a great chance on qualifying if they can outplay Hong Kong.
“We are very happy and proud to represent our country and to be doing well,” said Itaro Santos, who won the Pan-American Championship this year and partners Igor Figueiredo for the South American side.
Defending champions China A, meanwhile, look set to emerge unscathed from Group A, with one frame against Malta enough to ensure they advance safely.
Malta began the event in storming fashion, winning their opening 10 frames, but have only added four since then and will bow out unless they eclipse India’s tally against Singapore.
An exciting final day of the group stages in store then, which is exactly what the competition needed ahead of the business end of proceedings this weekend.
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