On Saturday 30 July, the Preliminary Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ set out the path the nations in the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone will need to follow to reach Planet Football’s top table. Drawn together in Group D in Round 2 are section favourites Canada, alongside St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia.
On the basis of their regional pedigree and current status, Canada are odds-on to claim first spot in Group D. In fact, the Canucks are the only one of the section’s four teams to appear at a FIFA World Cup final tournament - Mexico 1986 - though since then they have struggled to come close to repeating that feat. However, they will be hopeful their commitment to attractive football pays dividends this time around.
Puerto Rico: They could prove to be dark horses, with their club sides’ involvement in the CONCACAF Champions League having a knock-on effect on the standard of the domestic game, and giving the national team added bite and ambition. With the likes of Noah Delgado and Josh Hansen making an ever greater splash on the regional scene, do Puerto Rico have what it takes to snatch the group’s only available berth in Round 3?
Player to watch
Dwayne De Rosario (CAN)
The crunch match
On paper, the encounters between the Canadians and Puerto Ricans should have the greatest impact on top spot in Group D. Both sides will be determined to win at home and pick up at least a point away to give themselves the best chance of progress.
A look back
St. Kitts and Nevis-St. Lucia
To stand any chance of reaching Round 3, St. Kitts and Nevis will need to continue their winning run against section rivals St. Lucia. Of the seven meetings between the sides, two have come in FIFA World Cup qualifying action and they have emerged victorious on both occasions. In the preliminaries for France 1998, St. Kitts and Nevis won 5-1 in Basseterre and 1-0 in Castries.
Did you know?
The senior men’s national sides of Canada and Puerto Rico have never gone head-to-head, with the only meeting between the two nations coming in the women’s game. That encounter came in the qualifying phase of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999, when the Canadians ran out 21-0 winners.
Have your say
Which team do you think will win the group and stay in the hunt for a place at Brazil 2014?