MISSION QATAR!

MISSION QATAR!

The qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar is reaching the final stages. Some of the European and South American heavyweights have already qualified while most of the other confederations still have some games to go.

Though the final 32 of the tournament are yet to be finalised, with the final round of fixtures and playoffs to go, FootTheBall runs through the current scenarios around the various confederations.

AFC

The third-round of qualification is currently in progress, with 12 teams split into two groups. The top-two teams will progress directly to the World Cup, while the two third-placed teams will play each other in the next round with the winner advancing to the inter-confederation play-offs.

 

Group A has Iran and South Korea in pole position to make it through, while who goes third is a matter of great intrigue. Lebanon are currently third with five points with the remaining lower teams separated by just three points.

 

Group B sees Saudi Arabia and Australia in the direct qualifying spots, though Japan trail the Olyroos by just one point. Oman in third will fancy their own chances as well, on seven points but China and Vietnam are surely out of the running.

 

CAF

The African teams are in the midst of the second-round qualifying, as four teams in 10 groups battle it out. Only the group-winners will progress to the third-round which will consist of the qualified teams going head-to-head with the five winners heading to Qatar.

 

The teams that have already secured their spots for the next round include Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Congo DR, Mali, and Ghana. The Black Stars earned a controversial 1-0 win over South Africa, with the latter needing only a draw to advance. They have signalled their intentions to lodge a formal protest with CAF and FIFA to have the match replayed.

 

Coming to the remaining four groups, the situation is as tense as they come. In Group A, Algeria with 13 points need only a point against Burkina Faso on 11 points. Similarly in Group C, leaders Nigeria having 12 points can qualify with a draw against Cape Verde on 10 points. Group B sees Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea level on 10 points heading into matches against Zambia and Mauritania respectively. The toughest to call scenario is in Group D where Ivory Coast and Cameroon separated by just one point as they square off with one another on Tuesday.

 

CONCACAF

The third-round qualification in the Americas is finely poised at the halfway stage with every team having played seven games. USA earned an important 2-0 win over Mexico to move atop the group on goal difference with 14 points.

 

Canada sit third on 13 points with Panama trailing them by two points. The top-three will qualify directly for the World Cup while the fourth will move into the inter-confederation play-offs. Meanwhile, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and El Salvador are all on six points behind the top-four.

 

CONMEBOL

Brazil have secured qualification already, keeping up their streak of having made it to every World Cup since 1930. With three more teams to join them directly, Argentina are best-placed in second position on 28 points followed by Ecuador, Chile, Colombia with 20, 16, and 16 respectively.

 

Venezuela are adrift in last position on seven points with fourth to ninth being separated by only four points. There are still five rounds of fixtures to be played and with the top-two looking all but secured, it is all to play for in behind the two behemoths.

 

OFC

Due to the pandemic situation last year, the nations have not been able to start the qualifying campaign. It is slated to begin in March 2022, with the 11 teams going through two rounds of qualification. The winner at the end will proceed to the inter-confederation play-offs.

 

UEFA

Ten groups are participating in the first-round with the group-winners progressing directly. Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, France and Serbia have all made it through.

 

England from Group I will most certainly join them, unless a defeat to lowly San Marino combined with Poland winning by more than five goals. In Group C, Italy are ahead of Switzerland only on goal difference with the pair playing Northern Ireland and Bulgaria respectively. Group G is the most fascinating case, as Netherlands, Norway and Turkey are all in contention.

 

The Dutch on 20 points take on Norway on 18 points while Turkey, also on 18, will meet Montenegro. There is a very real chance of the Oranje not being able to make a second consecutive World Cup. The nations that have already made it to the second-round include Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, Wales, Russia, Poland, and North Macedonia.

 

They will be joined by Czech Republic and Austria as they were the two highest finishers in the UEFA Nations League to not qualify directly. The 12 teams will produced three winners who will be going to Qatar.

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