Mexico booked their place, pulling level on points with table-topping Canada
USA lost to Costa Rica but qualify direct on goal difference
Los Ticos face an intercontinental play-off with New Zealand
There were no significant late twists on the final matchday of the Concacaf qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, with Mexico and USA securing the last two automatic places and Costa Rica claiming the intercontinental play-off slot.
The two nations with most world finals appearances in the confederation had to wait until the very end to seal their qualification and will now go forward to Friday’s Final Draw in Doha. As for Los Ticos, they will take on New Zealand in June for a place at Qatar 2022.
Panama 1-0 Canada Costa Rica 2-0 USA Mexico 2-0 El Salvador Jamaica 2-1 Honduras
USA back in the big time, Ticos go close
USA have worked hard to atone for missing out on a place at Russia 2018, a failure that shocked the game to the core stateside. The man entrusted with getting them back on track was Gregg Berhalter, who rebuilt the side around a group of young players hungry to take the nation back to the elite. Despite a less than convincing end to the campaign, capped by a 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica, they did just enough to secure a berth a Qatar 2022. Costa Rica gave it all they had in the triple header that brought the qualifying competition to a close, making an impressive late push that almost saw them go through directly. Going into the last three games, they were a point adrift of Panama and out of the qualifying places altogther. Showing why they made it to the last two World Cups, Los Ticos won all three matches to secure a play-off with New Zealand in June and just miss out on third place and direct qualification on goal difference. Juan Pablo Contreras and Anthony Vargas were the goalscorers for Luis Fernando Suarez’s side against USA, while goalkeeper Keylor Navas had a big hand in their run to fourth. The Paris Saint-Germain man conceded just one goal in their last six matches and kept a clean sheet in seven of their 14 games to show that he is the bedrock of Costa Rica’s defensive set-up.
Mexico live up to expectations
Gerardo Martino decamped to MLS side Atlanta United after resigning from the Argentina job in 2016 and missing out on the chance to take the national team to Russia 2018, his dreams of repeating a World Cup appearance on his glittering CV seemingly dashed. Then Mexico came in for him and that dream was back on. Firing his ambitious Tri side is the desire to overcome the last-16 barrier that has tripped Mexico up at the last seven world finals. Tata and his team made a rocky start to the qualifiers, putting his position in jeopardy. They recovered thanks in small part to the form they found away from the Estadio Azteca. Though they remained unbeaten at home, no other team in the final phase picked up as many points on the road as El Tri's 13. They sealed qualification in front of their own fans, beating El Salvador 2-0 to pull level on points with Canada at the top of the standings. Uriel Antuna and Raul Jimenez were the men on target for the Mexicans, a team that everyone will want to avoid in Friday’s Final Draw.
Panama and Jamaica end on a high
In the final matchday’s other two games, Canada slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Panama. Gabriel Torres scored the goal, one that would have meant so much more for Los Canaleros if they had picked up more points in their previous two matches, though it did not stop their fans from celebrating the strike all the same. As for the Canadians, the result did not matter. Already sure of their place in Qatar, this was merely the last stop on an unforgettable journey. Jamaica and Honduras saw their Qatar 2022 hopes vanish some time ago. The bottom two sides in the standings, with only one win between them, they faced off with only pride at stake. Goals from Leon Bailey and Ravel Morrison cancelled out Angel Tejeda’s opener for the Hondurans, giving the Reggae Boyz only their second victory of the campaign and leaving the Central Americans winless. Both sides will now turn their thoughts to the 2026 edition.