Trio have leaders Mexico in sight
Concacaf has three World Cup qualifying matchdays in store
Canada, USA and Panama are tucked in behind leaders Mexico
The remaining quartet desperately need points
After the first three matchdays in the CONCACAF qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ left the group nicely poised, all eight countries return to action this week and continue their quest for qualification. Group leaders Mexico will be trying to stay clear of three teams who all lie only two points behind them. Meanwhile four other sides will be keen to get a first win under their belts to keep alive their chances of reaching Qatar. FIFA.com presents the key talking points ahead of the upcoming matches in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone of Qatar 2022 qualification.
Thursday, 7 October
Sunday, 10 October
Wednesday, 13 October
Flying Mexico gain reinforcements
El Tri hit the ground running last month, picking up seven points out of nine, despite the absence of three regular starters. Raul Jimenez was still in the process of returning from a serious brain trauma, while Hirving Lozano had yet to recover from an injury sustained in the Gold Cup and Hector Herrera missed out after picking up a last-minute knock. This time round, however, coach Gerardo Martino can call on the aforementioned trio, who are sure to give more punch to Mexico’s attack as they seek to maintain their status as group leaders.
Canada out to end 45-year curse
In a clash which is sure to get the pulses racing, Canada will visit the legendary Azteca Stadium. Led by the excellent full-back Alphonso Davies, the visitors would dearly love to head home with all three points and a place at the top of the group in tow. Yet history is against Canada, who have only managed to beat Mexico once in the last 20 qualifiers, a barren run going back to 10 October 1976, when they won 1-0 in Vancouver. It’s not all doom and gloom though: coach John Herdman’s young and talented side are unbeaten so far in the qualifiers and could give Mexico, Jamaica and Panama a run for their money.
USA playing catch-up
The Stars and Stripes face three tough fixtures over the next ten days, which will go a long way to showing what they are capable of. Jamaica are first up, with USA having lost to them just once in their last 12 meetings. The following two matches see USA take on Panama away, before welcoming Costa Rica in their final fixture. Good performances against that trio would stand them in good stead heading into November, when they face fellow heavyweights Mexico in a mouth-watering clash.
Honduras and Costa Rica keen to get back on track
Neither Honduras nor Costa Rica have found their feet so far in the Octagonal, and are both seeking their first wins of the campaign. Doing so would not only improve their standings in the group but also spur them on to do well in the rest of the campaign. The last five meeting between Honduras and Costa Rica have ended all square, an indication of how little separates the teams.
Little room for error
Despite the Octagonal being only three matchdays old, in just a week’s time some sides could already be cut adrift at the bottom or going clear at the top. El Salvador, Panama and Jamaica could potentially be in the former category and will be desperate to rediscover winning form. While all three have performed well in fits and starts, luck has not been on their side in front of goal. The clash between El Salvador and Panama could be a turning point for them, with a positive result sure to provide momentum heading into their games against Mexico and USA respectively.
Did you know?
In World Cup qualifiers...
Mexico have only been beaten once in the last 19 matches.
USA have lost twice in their last 36 home games.
Panama have only conceded three goals in their last nine fixtures.
“Every game will be a challenge. Panama have never been world beaters, and it’s clear to us that we have to give our all in every match. If we want to aspire to reach our second World Cup, we have to treat each game as if it were a final. Our aim is clear: we can’t give anything away.” Rolando Blackburn, Panama forward