Mexico set pace as USA, Canada hold coveted spots
Mexico the outright leader on 14 points
USA and Canada within striking distance
Jamaica record their first win of Octagonal
Mexico remain in pole position in the Concacaf qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ after taking seven points from their three fixtures in the October window. Their nearest pursuers, USA and Canada, remain within touching distance, while just three points separate the teams occupying berths four to seven. FIFA.com looks at some of highlights of this month’s games.
El Tri setting the pace Mexico are one of only two teams – Canada are the other – still unbeaten in the Octagonal and the only one to have won four of their opening six games. It is hard to see anyone stopping Gerardo Martino’s side, who began their recent round of games with a hard-fought draw at home to Canada. They followed that by taking maximum points against Honduras and El Salvador, without conceding against either. That return left Mexico three points clear at the top and extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifying to four years.
Stars and Stripes, Canucks stay in touch USA remain within touching distance of Mexico and ready to take advantage of any slip-ups by the leaders. Gregg Berhalter’s side made the most of home advantage to post wins over Jamaica and Costa Rica, either side of a 1-0 defeat in Panama, which ended a run of eight straight wins against Los Canaleros.
Canada, for their part, continued to serve up impressive performances. Their young squad caused plenty of problems for Mexico at the Azteca, where they secured a valuable point. They then shared the spoils on their trip to Jamaica before rounding off the window with an emphatic home win over Panama to occupy third place. With the Canucks and USA set to host Mexico at home in November, both will be in a position to challenge El Tri’s dominance of the group if they can make home advantage count.
Five games in, Jamaica were still waiting for their first win of the campaign. A reverse in the United States and a home draw against Canada had left them propping up the table and with their qualification hopes hanging by a thread. However, they managed to impose their high-tempo game on their Honduran hosts to secure a vital win, which moved them up to sixth and within three points of the play-off berth. Honduras, by contrast, remain winless and now find themselves last in the eight-team group. Their three October fixtures yielded no goals and a solitary point after their home draw with Costa Rica, a 3-0 reverse in Mexico and the aforementioned defeat to Jamaica. Although their points tally did not improve dramatically this month, fourth-placed Panama continue to put in some good performances. After narrowly losing to El Salvador on Matchday 4, they recorded a priceless 1-0 victory over second-placed USA. They even went in front on their trip to Canada yesterday before the home side roared back to finish comfortable winners.
For their part, Costa Rica took four of the nine points on offer during this window courtesy of a draw at home to Honduras and their first win of the Octagonal against El Salvador. In their last fixture, they threatened to cause an upset by taking the lead in the opening minute in the USA before eventually going down 2-1. Meanwhile, El Salvador made home advantage pay with victory over Panama but could not prevent leaders Mexico from leaving with all three points on the last matchday. A defeat away to Costa Rica in between leaves them on five points down in seventh, but encouragingly just three points adrift of Panama, who currently occupy the fourth-place play-off spot.
Did you know?
Mexico ended El Salvador’s run of six home games unbeaten without conceding a goal.
Canada have now gone 13 games unbeaten in World Cup qualifiers.
Prior to 13 October, Honduras had gone six games without conceding to Jamaica in home World Cup qualifiers. The last time the Reggae Boyz found the net there was in December 1968.
Despite playing in defence, Mexico’s Hector Moreno has now scored three times at El Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan in World Cup qualifying (2012, 2016 and 2021).
“We’re all responsible when we win and also when we lose, so we have to take our share of responsibility. We didn’t play well when we had possession, so of course that’s the responsibility of us players." Celso Borges, Costa Rica midfielder