USA-Mexico highlights two huge matchdays
Qualifying action resumes in Concacaf
Tough tests await the top two, Mexico and USA
Chasing pack hoping to make up ground
The race to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ continues apace this week in the North, Central America and Caribbean zone, with Matchdays 7 and 8 of the Octagonal set for 12 and 16 November respectively. The conclusion of this month’s games will mark the halfway stage of this final qualifying round, so expect sparks to fly in a congested table with all to play for.
Friday, 12 November
Tuesday, 16 November
Mexico facing stern test Apart from a brief spell when they trailed USA after Matchday 4, Mexico have been setting the pace in these regional qualifiers. However, their dominance will surely be put to the test over the next five days in the form of tricky away fixtures in the USA and Canada. Getting something from both games would constitute a good return for El Tri and likely enhance their lead in the table as well as their prospects of early qualification for Qatar.
No-one expects it to be easy, however. The Stars and Stripes have lost just two of their last 38 home World Cup qualifiers, although one of those came at the hands of their southern neighbours in November 2016. Canada, for their part, have already shown Mexico they mean business in these qualifiers by coming away from the Azteca with a point last month, and could be an even tougher proposition on home soil next Tuesday.
Costa Rica, Jamaica look to continue resurgence
During last month’s triple-header, both Costa Rica and Jamaica recorded their first wins of this phase while also drawing another of the games. That left Los Ticos just a point behind third-placed Canada, who they face in Edmonton tomorrow in a fixture they need to take something from if they are to continue their forward momentum. They then round off the year at home against a Honduran side rooted to the foot of the table and in desperate need of points. Jamaica, meanwhile, face no less a challenge. First they visit a well-drilled El Salvador side who have not conceded in their last two games, before hosting a USA team that beat them 2-0 in Austin last month.
Panama, El Salvador eye maximum returns
Both these teams have given some dynamic and battling performances in this campaign, without always seeing their efforts reflected in the scoreline However, with matchdays ticking by, they will be anxious not to lose further ground to the leading sides. Panama begin with a stern test at home to Honduras, while El Salvador welcome a Jamaica side level on points with them. The following Tuesday, Los Canaleros, who currently occupy fourth spot, three points clear of La Selecta, welcome the Salvadorans to Panama City for a showdown that will be pivotal to both sides’ aspirations.
Now or never for Honduras
La H are the only team still without a win in this Octagonal. Yet despite propping up the table with just three points, they still have hope in what is a tightly bunched group. At least one win will be vital from what is sure to be a highly charged home fixture against Panama and their subsequent trip to Costa Rica. For that to happen, though, they need to find some scoring form, having failed to register in six of their last eight internationals.
Did you know...?
Mexico and Canada are the only two teams still unbeaten in the current Concacaf qualifiers.
El Salvador have lost just one of their last seven home games in the preliminaries.
Panama are unbeaten in their last six qualifiers against Honduras
“The team’s been playing well and we’ve been pretty solid. We’ve been dropping points because of some very specific things. We’re on the up, though, and I hope that by the end of this round of games and the start of the next that we’re in a better position in the table.” Celso Borges of Costa Rica (full interview below)