World Cup Qualifiers - Concacaf

World Cup Qualifiers - Concacaf (83)

Mexico missed the chance to move up to second in the CONCACAF standings and firm up their grip on a 2022 World Cup qualification spot after an underwhelming 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Sunday.

El Tri struck the woodwork twice in the second half from Luis Alberto Rodriguez and substitute Luis Romo's efforts, with Mexico unable to regularly test Ticos goalkeeper Keylor Navas despite their domination.

Mexico had 73 percent possession and 25 shots on goal, compared to Costa Rica's six, but the hosts only managed one on target with Navas saving Hector Herrera's 45th-minute free-kick, heaping more pressure on head coach Gerardo Martino.

Rogelio Funes Mori had a 31st-minute goal disallowed for offside, while Hirving Lozano returned from suspension but was wasteful with a handful of chances. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa denied Costa Rica's best chance from Celso Borges' 39th-minute header.

The result means Mexico, who have managed just four points from their past four qualifiers, remain third in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings, missing the chance to go past the United States, who lost 2-0 to leaders Canada.

Canada have 22 points from 10 games, with USA and Mexico second and third on 18 points each while Panama beat Jamaica 3-2 on Sunday to sit fourth on 17 points. The top three sides automatically qualify for Qatar, with fourth to face a playoff. Costa Rica kept alive their faint qualification hopes with the draw, sitting fifth with 13 points.

Canada are on the brink of qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986 after an impressive 2-0 win over rivals the United States extended their lead atop the CONCACAF group.

John Herdman's side have been the big surprise in the CONCACAF qualifying section and look destined to reach only their second men's World Cup ever.

While Sunday's match was never going to be truly decisive, it provided Canada with another opportunity to show their position at the top of the standings is no mere fluke.

Having been deemed by many as the most exciting CONCACAF side in qualifying, Canada lived up to their billing as they opened the scoring, a sharp and incisive move ending with Cyle Larin playing a one-two with Jonathan David and firing home.

A Weston McKennie header just before the break almost restored parity, but Milan Borjan acrobatically pushed it on to the crossbar.

United States desperately poured men forward towards the end and were caught on the break in stoppage time, Samuel Adekugbe latching on to a hopeful hoof before dispatching a wonderfully composed finish from outside the box to spark jubilant scenes in Hamilton.

Victory means Canada could potentially secure their spot at the finals in Qatar when they go to El Salvador on Wednesday.

Mexico scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to revive their stuttering 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over 10-man Jamaica in Kingston on Thursday.

El Tri, who had lost their past two qualifiers against the United States and Canada, were staring down the barrel of a third straight loss when trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes left before their late rally.

Henry Martin tapped home to equalise in the 81st minute, with Carlos Vega netting a dramatic winner two minutes later to ease the pressure on head coach Gerardo Martino.

Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson had fired in a left-foot strike to put the Reggae Boyz ahead in the 51st minute after they had been reduced to 10 men prior to half-time when Damion Lowe was sent off after VAR review – introduced to CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time – for a studs-up challenge.

El Tri, who were without the injured Raul Jimenez and suspended Hirving Lozano, had early chances with Carlos Rodriguez and Vega both testing Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake in the first half.

The win means Mexico move up to 17 points from nine qualifiers, temporarily moving above Canada – who play Honduras later on Thursday - into second spot in CONCACAF qualifying, one point behind USA who edged El Salvador 1-0. The result leaves Jamaica off the pace, with only one win and seven points from nine games.

Antonee Robinson's second-half strike earned the United States an unconvincing 1-0 victory over El Salvador to move a step closer to 2022 World Cup qualification on Thursday in cold conditions in Columbus.

Fulham defender Robinson lashed home in the 52nd minute after Timothy Weah's good lead-up work in the decisive moment, as USA moved up to 18 points from nine games.

USA temporarily moved into top spot in the CONCACAF qualifying standings, with Canada due to take on Honduras later.

Jesus Ferreira, starting in a World Cup qualifier for the first time, burnt two first-half chances, before Robinson broke the deadlock early in the second half as USA stamped their superiority.

The hosts pressed for a second goal, with El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez acrobatically denying Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah's poke.

El Salvador's best chance came in the 85th minute as Joaquin Rivas glanced Bryan Tamacas' cross wide, while USA fluffed opportunities with Weston McKennie and Gyasi Zardes headers.

Australia ended a three-match winless streak in World Cup qualifying in emphatic fashion, with a 4-0 victory over Vietnam.

The Socceroos had drawn their previous two qualifiers in November, following a 2-1 reverse to Japan in October, leaving them outside the automatic qualification spots in Group B.

However, they got their bid for a place in Qatar back on track in style on Thursday in Melbourne, inflicting an eighth successive qualification defeat on Vietnam in the process.

Tomas Rogic thought he had put Australia ahead inside the opening 20 seconds, only for VAR to disallow the goal for Jackson Irvine straying offside.

Vietnam got no such reprieve when Jamie Maclaren headed home from Rogic's cross in the 30th minute, with the Celtic midfielder turning from provider to scorer on the stroke of half-time.

Slack defending gifted Australia a third when Craig Goodwin latched onto Mat Ryan's pass in the 72nd minute to score his first international goal, before Riley McGree picked out the bottom-right corner to make it 4-0, also his first strike for his country.

It was just the second time the nations have met in World Cup qualifying, with Australia – who are back to within two points of group leaders Saudi Arabia – making things rather easier for themselves this time after a 1-0 win in the first match.

 

Jamaica Reggae Boy interim head coach, Paul Hall, was in a bullish mood ahead of Thursday’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Mexico at the National Stadium.

The match will be the second fixture but the first World Cup qualifier for Hall, who stepped in to replaced Theodore Whitmore in December of last year.  With the team adrift in sixth place and 7 points behind the qualifying positions, it seems safe to say only a win will do for the Reggae Boyz against a typically dangerous opponent.

Hall is aware of the challenge at hand but feels confident the team can find a way to pull off the crucial result.

"We got to make sure we stay focussed and motivated with the task at hand and if we can do that and get into the game and find our rhythm and be expressive with our play then we will be ok," Hall said.

“They won’t want to lose they are probably going to have the same attitude as ourselves, so I feel it will be a tight affair,” he added.

“We will respect the Mexicans and what they bring and I would ask my team to make sure that Mexico respects what we bring, with our energy, with our rhythm, and with our desire,” he added.

The Mexicans, who will be without key players Hirving Lozano and Raul Jiminez, are currently third in the standings, on 14, the same number of points as Panama.  In the reverse fixture, the Mexicans scored late to win 2-1.  The Jamaicans will play Panama three days later before hosting Costa Rica.  All teams are directly above them in the table.  

 

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall has named an experienced squad for his squad for the next three FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica, respectively.

Hall, who replaced Theodore Whitmore on an interim basis, after the latter was relieved of his duties late last year, did not see it fit to select any outfield players currently participating in the Jamaica Premier League. Leon Bailey misses out once again as he is not fully recovered from a thigh injury that has seen him miss 11 of Aston Villa's Premier League matches this season. Shamar Nicholson declined his invitation claiming he wants to spend the time settling into his new club Spartak Moscow.

However, Hall is not short of striking options as he has called up West Ham’s Michail Antonio, Queens Park Rangers’ Andre Gray, Philadelphia Union’s Cory Burke, FC Toulouse’s Junior Flemmings, Fulham’s Bobby Reid, and Santos de Guapiles’ Javon East.

In midfield, Miami FC’s Devon Williams and Lamar Walker, Blackpool FC’s Kevin Stewart, Derby County’s Ravel Morrison, Hartford Athletic’s Peter-Lee Vassell and Preston North End’s Daniel Johnson got the nod for the crucial matches.

In defence, Hall will choose from the likes of Reading FC’s Liam Moore, Macarthur FC’s Adian Mariappa, recent Inter Miami signee Damion Lowe, Toronto FC’s Kemar Lawrence, Morecambe FC’s Gregory Leigh, Vancouver Whitecap’s Javain Brown and FC Cincinnati’s Alvas Powell.

Andre Blake of Philadelphia Union, Dwayne Miller of Eskilstuna City and Amal Knight of Harbour View FC make up the goalkeeper pool.

Jamaica will open the coming window against Mexico at the National Stadium in Kingston on January 27 before travelling to Panama for their next match on January 30. The penultimate round of qualifiers concludes with Jamaica hosting Costa Rica at the National Stadium on February 2.

Prominent Napoli forward Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano will miss out for Mexico against Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, in the upcoming crunch World Cup qualifier, due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

The match is shaping up to be a crucial fixture for both teams.  The Jamaicans still harbour hope of securing a spot at the upcoming FIFA World Cup but find themselves off the pace in 6th place, seven points behind the final qualification spot with a few games to go.  However, the Mexicans could also find themselves out of the qualifying spots if the result does not go their way, as they are currently in third on 14 points, the same amount as third-place Panama. 

With crucial points on the line, Mexico would love to have the Napoli player to call upon.  The player, however, received a yellow card in the game against Canada, in the last round, on November 16, and prior to that one against El Salvador in October.

The player has nonetheless been called up for the round of matches and is expected to feature in follow-up games against Costa Rica and Panama.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will once again be without fans for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica as the government looks to put measures in place to combat the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

The country has played the majority of its matches behind closed doors, so far, with the lone exception being its last match against the United States, which allowed for 5000 vaccinated spectators to be present.

With 15 more COVID deaths, 1,548 new cases, and a positivity rate of 51.5 percent, as of Tuesday, however, the Government has decided to return to closed-door measures.  The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers with just 557,000 persons fully vaccinated, representing just 20.4 percent of the population.

The Reggae Boyz will be hoping to make a late run to book a place at this year’s FIFA World Cup having found themselves well off the pace midway through the qualifiers.  The team is currently 6th in the standings on 7 points, seven short of the final qualification spot.  The team will kick off the next round with a match against Mexico on January 27th, followed by a trip to Panama three days later and a home fixture against Costa Rica on January 30.

 General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, has welcomed the implementation of Video Assistant Replay (VAR), which will be used for the final six games of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

Prior to this, Concacaf was one of only three nations not making use of the technology, alongside AFCON (Africa) and Oceania, and were hampered in their efforts to do so by not only technological restrictions but also due to a lack of certified officials.  With both issues rectified since the start of the year, the way is now clear for the replay system to be implemented.

In its absence, the competition has been plagued by what some believe to be high-profile refereeing errors.  Against the United States with the game tied at 1-1, Jamaica defender Damion Lowe’s header, which flew into the net 7 minutes from time, was controversially ruled out for what appeared to be very little contact with US defender Walker Zimmerman.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With the country well behind on points in their pursuit of three and a half qualification spots, three points instead of one could have made a huge difference.  Wint hopes that in the future such costly errors can be avoided.

“I think it (decisions like that) is one of the major reasons CONCACAF decided to implement it.  It is really important to get the major decisions right,” Wint said of the upcoming technology upgrade.

There have of course also been times when the technology may have gone against the country notably when Lowe was himself yellow carded for a last-ditch challenge on USA player Brenden Aaronson, although the call might have been marginal at best.

“I’m all for it.  If you have the technology, then why not use it.  You can’t have it both ways, at times it may slow the game down, but it is important to try and arrive at the correct decision.”

The Reggae Boyz, who are currently in 6th place in the eight-team standings and 7 points behind the final qualifying spot, will resume their qualification campaign against Mexico on January 27th.  

 

 

 

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