First round of Concacaf qualifying for Qatar 2022 drawing to a close
Six second-round places up for grabs
FIFA.com previews the final matchdays
The first round of Concacaf qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is nearing its end. Drawn into six groups, the 29 teams in action will battle it out between 2 and 8 June for the six places in the second round. FIFA.com looks ahead to a make-or-break few days of football and picks out the teams best placed to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive.
Montserrat’s 1-1 draw with El Salvador in March blew the group wide open. That surprise result means the stakes will be high when the Salvadorans entertain Antigua and Barbuda on the final matchday. The two sides are joint top of the section on four points. As for Montserrat, they will be gunning for their first-ever World Cup qualifying win on 2 June, when they entertain US Virgin Islands, who lost both their opening games.
Canada and Suriname have pulled clear in what appears to be a two-horse race. As in Group A, the big game in the section will come right at the end, when the two sides face off in Bridgeview, Illinois on 8 June.
The Canadians have a goal difference of +15 and will be hoping to increase that even more when they face Aruba on 5 June. Suriname, who have yet to concede a goal, will need to be at their best to blunt the threat posed by Canada’s Alphonso Davies and Cyle Larin, Concacaf qualifying's leading scorer.
John Herdman’s defence will also be tested in their final game. Suriname coach Dean Gorre can count on players of the calibre of Gleofilo Vlijter, Ryan Donk and Nigel Hasselbaink, the nephew of former Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The encounter between the two sides promises to be fascinating and one of the standout matches of the qualifiers so far.
Curacao and Guatemala are battling it out for top spot. In a repeat of the scenarios in groups A and B, the duel between them will go down to the final matchday on 8 June, with Curacao entertaining Guatemala in their capital, Willemstad. The home side will go into the game as favourites and will be coached for the occasion by former Ajax and Netherlands forward Patrick Kluivert, who has taken charge of the national team while Guus Hiddink recovers from COVID-19.
Dominican Republic top the section on goal difference from Panama, with both sides having won their two games so far.
Los Canaleros entertain the current group leaders on 8 June and will hope to make home advantage count as they bid to return to the World Cup four years on from their tournament debut at Russia 2018.
Nicaragua, Belize and Haiti are out front on three points each. Belize have played two games to their opponents’ one, however, and will need to dig deep when they travel to Nicaragua on 4 June.
The decisive match in the group would appear to be Nicaragua’s visit to Haiti on 8 June, a match that will most likely decide who advances to the next round.
St. Kitts and Nevis won their first two games without conceding a goal and lead the way in the section. Two points behind lie Trinidad and Tobago, who drew 1-1 with Puerto Rico in their last outing.
The top two meet on 8 June, when St. Kitts and Nevis will hope to record their first-ever World qualifying win over Trinidad and Tobago, who will have the advantage of playing at home.