Qatar 2022: Canada bid for Concacaf crown, US and Mexico seek to repel all usurpers

January 27 – The eight Concacaf nations in the final World Cup qualification return to action tonight in an international window that will see them play three matches in eight days.

In the last round of matches in November, Canada fulfilled on their promise and broke what had become something of a glass ceiling to go top of the qualifying group with five games to play.

The Canadians beat Costa Rica and Mexico in sub-zero temperatures in Montreal to go top of the group by a point over the US. Mexico had ended the previous window top of qualifying but losing to the US and then Canada put a hole in their campaign, leaving them two points off the Canadians and level with a resurgent Panama.

Only the top three teams qualify automatically with the fourth qualifying for the intercontinental play-off.

Canada face bottom team Honduras knowing a win will cement their group lead though the conditions will be very different from the snow and -9C cold of November in Montreal. Temperature in Honduras will be about 30C.

Canada will be without their talisman Alphonso Davies (the Bayern Munich defender was diagnosed with a heart problem), but will have the rest of the team that started in the 2-1 win over Mexico including Lille forward Jonathan David and Besiktas strker Cyle Larin – who scored both goals against the Mexicans.

Canada then return to Hamilton for a crunch match against the US – likely to be in similar sub-zero conditions to the Mexico game – before they return to the heat of El Salvador.

The US, who dropped points with a draw against Jamaica last round, start this window at home in Columbus against El Salvador before making the trip to Canada and then back home for the visit of Honduras.

Mexico, who need to get their qualifying campaign back on track, face a tricky opener against Jamaica who are under new management and will have a full compliment of players from England in their ranks, including West Ham striker Michail Antonio who, new to Jamaica for this qualifying campaign, has scored in his last two games.

Mexico have confirmed Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Raul Jimenez and Sevilla’s Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona will be in their squad.

Panama, qualifiers for 2018 in Russia, face Central American rivals Costa Rica, in recent years the dominant team in their region. Panama have real ambition for qualification though have traditionally struggled against Costa Rica, losing six matches and drawing two in qualification.

Costa Rica are rebuilding but still rely on some old stagers like goalkeeper Kaylor Navas and forward Bryan Ruiz who have shown they aren’t ready to give up their mantle as regional bosses just yet.

Qatar 2022 QualifyingWDLFAPts
Canada84123628
USA74220825
Mexico74415825
Costa Rica64311822
Panama435161918
El Salvador24781610
Jamaica15710228
Honduras0486244

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