Canada kicks off their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers final against Honduras on Thursday, and while it may seem like a long distance start, it’s the end of a marathon race that began in March.
To reach this last step, the Canadian team first had to go through the first qualifying round, whose matches in the international windows were split between March 24 and June 8. Then there was a second round, but we’ll come back to that.
Because in order to fully understand how these skills work, you have to start from the beginning.
Let’s first say that the top-ranked CONCACAF (North American, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation) five teams according to the international federation, FIFA, had direct access to the final stage starting on Thursday.
These are Mexico (11th in the world), the United States (12th), Costa Rica (46th), Jamaica (48th) and Honduras (62nd) by Rommel Coyoto.
Next comes the difference between the sixth and thirty-fifth places, according to the FIFA ranking for the month of July 2020.
These groups were divided into six groups from five countries, each playing four matches, two at home and two away.
During this stage, Canada found itself in Group B along with Suriname, Bermuda, Aruba and the Cayman Islands. The Canadians came first in this group with four wins, scored 27 goals and allowed only one.
The only player broke a record by scoring 11 goals against the Cayman Islands.
Once this initial round was over, we picked the first group out of each of the six groups to play three home and away series on June 12 and 15.
Against Haiti, Canada did well again with a 1-0 victory and 3-0 to reach the finals.
El Salvador and Panama have also taken the step to join the top five teams in CONCACAF.
From this point on, the marathon will be difficult. You know, the famous wall that runners talk about, it’s there.
It should be noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the format has changed little since the international window was postponed in September 2020.
So we decided to go beyond the usual formula where only the top six teams participated in the final stage. Positions 7 to 35 were battling for participation in the Inter-Confederation Qualifiers which would give access to two more positions to qualify.
So this time, Canada, El Salvador and Panama join the top five, as mentioned earlier.
This third and final round of qualifying is very difficult. This is the main dish.
In fact, each team will play two matches against each of the other nations, for a total of 14 matches.
And if we are talking about a marathon, it is not only for the image that it represents. These games will be played over a total of five international windows between 2 September and 20 March 2022.
So it will be a long tournament during which anything can happen, especially because the composition of the selections can change from match to match due to injuries.
To top it all off, the top three teams will be able to get their tickets to Qatar. The fourth-placed player will participate in the Confederation Cup playoffs. Four countries from four different confederations will fight for the last two places.
A real chance to go to Qatar?
Canada has done a great job getting to this final stage of the World Cup qualifiers, but what are their real chances of making it to the big event?
It would be easy to say that John Herdman’s training would be extras, but it would be a bit simplistic to think about that. Especially since in the first two rounds, no Canadian match was played at home.
Things will be very different this time around as the Canadians will have the luxury of playing in front of their home fans in the third round.
The country will open its championship Thursday night against Honduras at BMO Stadium in Toronto. It will be a very good test from the start even though they are the lowest-ranked team out of the five that went straight to this third round.
Then the Canadians will head to Nashville, where they will face the United States on Sunday. They will return to BMO Stadium to host El Salvador next Wednesday.
The remaining 11 matches will be played during the October, November, January and March windows.
With Davis and David
So the representatives of the maple plant will have to work hard and rely on a good dose of luck in order to secure a ticket to Qatar.
The coaching was young and showed a lot of motivation during the first two phases. She plays dynamic and loves to attack, but will need to heal her defensive play to protect Maxime Crepo, who excels in front of the net.
This time around, Canada will be counting on left-back Alphonso Davies and forward Jonathan David, injured in the early summer and during the Gold Cup in July.
So yeah, we have a right to a dream because this internship is probably the best that Canada has had in several decades.
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