World Cup Qualifiers - Concacaf

World Cup Qualifiers - Concacaf (95)

Mexico secured qualification for the World Cup on Wednesday, after a 2-0 win at home to El Salvador.

Goals from Uriel Antuna and Raul Jimenez were enough for Tata Martino's side, with Mexico now securing their eighth consecutive qualification.

With the United States and Costa Rica facing off for the third automatic spot in CONCACAF qualifying, El Tri only realistically needed a draw to book an automatic berth in Qatar.

It was a dominant opening however, and Mexico were able to capitalise early to dispel any growing anxiety. Antuna opened the scoring in the 17th minute, dispatching the rebound after Nestor Araujo's powerful header from an Alexis Vega corner.

Running onto a ball behind the defence, Antuna then won his team a penalty in the 42nd minute. To essentially put the game beyond El Salvador's reach and secure his team's place in Qatar, Raul Jimenez calmly converted from the spot, sending Mario Gonzalez the wrong way.

With the win, El Tri finished the third round of qualification on 28 points, equal on points with first-placed Canada but with a lower goal difference.

After failing to qualify for 2018, the United States secured automatic qualification to the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday, despite a 2-0 loss away to Costa Rica.

Following their 5-1 win over Panama, the USA had a healthy enough goal difference to avert the inter-confederation playoff, with a three-point and 10-goal gap between them and Costa Rica coming into the final qualifier. 

In what was an intense start, Keylor Navas was on hand to deny the US in the eighth minute with a fantastic double effort. Initially denying Miles Robinson with a reflex save from close range, the Paris Saint-Germain keeper then managed to stop the ball from trickling in following a US corner.

The match tightened up significantly and the dead ball was the likeliest avenue to goal for both teams. The home side eventually broke the deadlock in the 51st minute through Juan Pablo Vargas, and doubled the margin eight minutes later from another set piece via Anthony Contreras.

Both sides finish the third round of CONCACAF qualifying on 25 points, but goal difference separates with the United States on +11 and Costa Rica on +5.

As a result, Los Ticos will face New Zealand in the inter-confederation playoff in June.

Mexico have all but secured qualification for the World Cup after a 1-0 away win over Honduras on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Costa Rica's 2-1 win in El Salvador earlier in the day meant Mexico could not immediately join Canada in sealing their spot in Qatar, but victory on the road means El Tri are on the brink.

With the top three CONCACAF sides gaining automatic qualification, third-placed Mexico sit three points clear of Costa Rica and have a four-goal advantage, meaning only a defeat at home to El Salvador on Wednesday and a significant goal swing will put Tata Martino's men in trouble.

Mexico had 70 per cent possession in the first half against Honduras but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities.

They upped the intensity after half-time, with Hector Herrera, Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano all creating chances in the first 10 minutes.

Edson Alvarez eventually found the breakthrough in the 70th minute, heading in from Herrera's corner.

With Costa Rica playing second-placed USA in their final qualifying game, even a draw against El Salvador will see Mexico through to their eighth consecutive World Cup.

Christian Pulisic scored a hat-trick as the United States thrashed Panama 5-1 on Sunday to all but secure their place at the 2022 World Cup.

While still not officially assured of a spot in Qatar, only an implausible six-goal midweek defeat to Costa Rica would prevent Gregg Berhalter's side from returning to the tournament after missing out four years ago.

Costa Rica's 2-1 win in El Salvador earlier in the day meant USA were unable to join Canada in making absolutely sure of their qualification, though they went about their business professionally in Orlando.

Pulisic opened the scoring in the 17th minute from the spot after Anibal Godoy was penalised for grappling with Walker Zimmerman, and soon after it was 2-0 as Paul Arriola headed in Antonee Robinson's delivery.

Jesus Ferreira made it 3-0 just before the half-hour mark with a close-range finish and Pulisic ensured they went into the break four up thanks to his second penalty of the day – Godoy was again the guilty party, fouling Miles Robinson.

Pulisic completed his hat-trick in style with 65 minutes played, producing a lovely touch to turn and then convert, though a late Godoy consolation prevented Zack Steffen keeping a clean sheet.

USA need only a point on Wednesday to ensure they are in Friday's World Cup draw, though in reality they could lose 5-0 to fourth-placed Costa Rica and still qualify due to their superior goal difference.

Canada boss John Herdman said his team are "only getting started" after they ended the country's 36-year wait to get back to the World Cup.

The head coach is an Englishman, but he has a tight bond with Canada having previously led the women's team with distinction.

It meant Herdman was full of emotion after a 4-0 win against Jamaica in Toronto on Sunday guaranteed Canada's place at Qatar 2022.

"I still can't believe it," he said. "I've been preaching this belief, but when it finally happens I'm speechless.

"Canadians... we've won Champions League finals, we've got a kid [Alphonso Davies] playing in Bayern Munich, and we've got Canadians playing at all levels in Europe, and we've got Canadians going to a World Cup.

"We're a football country, that's all we ever wanted. We wanted that respect. We wanted people to believe we were a football country, and we've proved it.

"We're coming, we're only getting started here. What a privilege it has been as a coach. I'm proud for all of these people here."

Les Rouges have been the standout team in the CONCACAF section, and a first World Cup appearance since Mexico 86 now awaits them.

Speaking on Sportsnet, midfielder Jonathan Osorio said: "It's a dream come true. We all dreamed of this as little kids and as a Canadian that was impossible.

"And today the impossible happened. It's an incredible feeling."

Defender Richie Laryea added: "It's crazy, it's a great feeling. These guys, everyone on this team worked so hard for this moment. To do it here in Toronto where a lot of the guys are from, it's f****** incredible."

Osorio is a Toronto FC stalwart, and Laryea, who plays in England at Nottingham Forest, said of him: "This guy's done a lot for this programme. He's led the way. It's special to see him do this for club and country. For him to have that moment, it's big for all of us but especially him and his family. Everyone here knows who he is, so it's great."

Canada have qualified for the 2022 World Cup thanks to a 4-0 win over Jamaica in their penultimate qualifying match.

Les Rouges have been the standout team in the CONCACAF section and their participation in Qatar had long seemed a formality.

But having passed up the opportunity to make sure of their place at this year's tournament earlier in the week with their 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica, they eventually got the job done on Sunday.

Cyle Larin settled any early nerves with a clinical finish from Stephen Eustaquio's incisive pass in the 13th minute, and although Canada were rather wasteful thereafter, they deservedly made it 2-0 thanks to Tajon Buchanan's tap-in just before half-time.

Junior Hoilett's smart finish eight minutes from time was then added to late on by an Adrian Mariappa own goal as the celebrations began in Toronto.

Canada had been absent from the World Cup since the 1986 edition in Mexico, which was also their only previous appearance at the tournament – they played three matches and lost all of them.

But having unearthed something of a 'golden generation', John Herdman's side head to Qatar as no pushovers.

The Maple Leafs have suffered just one defeat in the third and final round of CONCACAF qualifying, form which has seen them beat both the United States and Mexico at home and draw away to their two biggest qualification rivals.

They climbed up to 33rd last month when the most recent world rankings were announced, making it the highest Canada have ever been on the FIFA ladder.

Regardless of the USA's and Mexico's results later on Sunday, Canada need only a point away to Panama in their final qualifier on Wednesday to win the group.

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall has made it clear that if players in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) are deemed good enough, they will be given opportunities in the national side.

He made his comments in a post-match interview after his side played out a 1-1 draw with El Salvador in a World Cup Qualifier at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Locally-based players such as Cavalier’s Richard King, Mount Pleasant’s Daniel Green, Dunbeholden’s Atapharoy Bygrave and Waterhouse’s Ramone Howell all saw action against El Salvador and there were others among the substitutes. Hall says there is a reason they are all in the mix.

“The reason why they were in the squad is because I rate them highly,” Hall said before going on to issue a warning to overseas based players who declined the opportunity to represent the team.

“I’ve watched every premier league game this weekend and I’ve seen some really good players and it’s just a message to people that if they’re not willing to come and be a part of us, there are players in there waiting to take their places, they just need the opportunity,” he said.

There has long been a call to give more local-based players an opportunity in international football and it seems Hall is set on making that happen.

“I said to the lads that this is about opportunity. If I give somebody an opportunity, I expect them to take it to keep somebody else out of the team. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

 

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall has praised his team’s performance in their 1-1 draw at home against El Salvador in their CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying fixture at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Speaking after the game, Hall said his message to the team prior to the game was simple.

“I asked them to play with style. I asked them to play with a smile on their face,” he said.

They definitely heard his message, creating numerous chances with free-flowing football throughout the 90 minutes.

“They played with the ball like nobody’s business. There were triangles popping up all over the place and everybody was brave to take the ball so we’ve got to now build on that,” Hall said.

They’ll have an opportunity to build on it when they oppose Canada on Sunday before returning home to host Honduras on March 30th and Hall spoke on what he wants to see from his team in the remaining matches.

“Performance. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s all I ask the players for. I don’t ask for a win, I don’t ask them for a draw, all I say is perform because results will look after themselves,” he said.

“I just want them to play in a style that is befitting of a Jamaican team. We’re physically stronger than everybody else, we run faster than everybody else, we just need a little bit of style to our play and to make sure we’re good at the basics, then we can really fly,” Hall added.

 

 

 

Jamaica winger Leon Bailey is suggesting that Jamaica's failed world cup campaign was partly due to players in the squad who lacked the required attitude and approach.

The Aston Villa player made the suggestions while speaking with Sportsmax following Jamaica's 1-1 draw with El Salvador at the National Stadium on Thursday night in what was one of Reggae Boyz more encouraging performances of the campaign. After falling behind in the 21st minute, Jamaica rallied to equalize in the 72nd minute and had several opportunities to win the game.

Head coach Paul Hall included several local players in the squad and Bailey believes that those players exhibited the kind of attitude that was far different to that of other players who were not available for the match.

“There was too much ego in the team and I’m happy that things have been changed a little bit," said Bailey.

"We have guys who want to listen and learn and go forward. We had too many hotheads in the team, too many players who don’t like to listen. Everybody has to want to listen. Nobody’s bigger than the game.” 

Jamaica failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but Bailey says the performance against El Salvador has provided a template of how the team can move forward.

“We haven’t made it to the World Cup but tonight showed that we are a good team. We can play football and compete. I feel like we can build on this going forward. We showed a lot of character and eagerness to learn,” he said.

 

Reggae Boyz attacker Leon Bailey says he feels sharp after playing all 90 minutes of the team’s 1-1 draw in their World Cup Qualifier against El Salvador at the National Stadium in Kingston on Thursday.

The visitors took the lead in the 21st minute through an Eriq Zavaleta header off a corner before the Reggae Boyz equalized in the 72nd minute through Queens Park Rangers striker Andre Gray.

“I enjoyed the game today. I think the team enjoyed the game today and it was exciting for the fans. I thought we were brilliant in defense and attack but we didn’t take the chances,” Bailey said in an interview with SportsMax after the game.

“I felt good. Haven’t played 90 minutes in a long time. There’s much more room for improvement but I feel sharp, comfortable and ready to go,” he added.

A long time is right. The Aston Villa man hadn’t played the full 90 minutes of a game since a Premier League fixture against Southampton on November 5th.

He endured a long spell on the side-lines after suffering a muscle injury against Manchester City in December.

Jamaica have two more games in the span of five days and Bailey says he’s unsure how much of a part he’ll be able to play in those.

“I’m not sure what the plan is. I’ll speak to coach and see but, obviously, as I said, I haven’t played a full 90 minutes in a long time and having three games in such a short time, we’ll have to see how much minutes I’ll be able to play in the other two games or maybe I’ll just play one game. We don’t know,” he said.

The Reggae Boyz will next take on Canada on Sunday before ending their World Cup Qualifying campaign against Honduras at the National Stadium on March 30th.

 

 

 

 

 

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