Just three matchdays remain in the octagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Canada, the United States and Mexico are on the verge of qualifying; El Salvador, Jamaica and Honduras have been eliminated.
Mexico vs United States
One of international football’s biggest and best rivalries is reignited as Mexico take on the United States at Estadio Azteca.
These two met three times in 2021 and they proved to be memorable encounters if you are of a red, white and blue persuasion.
First, the U.S. lifting not one but two trophies, beating Mexico in both the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup Finals just 56 days apart.
Then, in World Cup qualifying, Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie both scored late as USA won Dos a Cero in Cincinnati.
This is the first time one of these great rivals has beaten the other three times in the same year since a hat-trick of Mexico wins in 1937.
In the context of this group, both nations are on 21 points, four below Canada and four above Panama in fourth.
Both are very much expected to qualify for Qatar 2022 so Tata Martino and Gregg Berhalter are under pressure to secure top three finishes.
Despite those recent triumphs, the U.S. are big underdogs having never beaten Mexico in Mexico in a competitive fixture.
Costa Rica vs Canada
Could this be the day of celebration for Canada?
The Canucks have only ever qualified for one World Cup before, Mexico ’86, but are on the verge of changing that, having now won 13 matches in this cycle.
In the octagonal round, John Herdman’s side remain unbeaten, including beating both Mexico and the U.S. at home, drawing with both away.
So, Canada are top of the table, four points above the big two, and eight points clear of fourth-placed Panama.
So, it’s simple: a victory for Canada in San José will ensure they are going to Qatar in November for the World Cup.
Costa Rica though have plenty to play for themselves.
Los Ticos are looking to reach a fifth World Cup out of the last six, but are currently fifth in the table, below the qualification positions.
However, Luis Fernando Suárez’s team are just one point below Panama who occupy the the inter-confederation play-off place.
After this, Costa Rica face El Salvador before hosting USA, simply needing to better Panama’s point tally from this three-game window.
Canada won both meetings with Costa Rica in 2021: 2-0 during the Gold Cup quarter-finals and 1-0 in the reverse fixture in Edmonton.
Panama vs Honduras
Can Panama cling onto that all-important top four spot?
Right now, los Canaleros are fourth in the table, four points below the U.S. and Mexico, occupying the inter-confederation play-off place.
With the top three, probably, out of sight, Thomas Christiansen’s side need to ensure they finish above Costa Rica who are just one point behind.
Panama’s campaign concludes with USA away and then Canada at home, so this is very much a must win for them.
Honduras have qualified for three World Cups in their history, including 2010 and 2014, but this campaign has been a complete catastrophe.
LA H have now lost seven consecutive matches, leaving them are rock bottom of the table with just three draws and zero wins to their name.
In the reverse fixture in November, despite being 2-0 down with 13 minutes to go, Panama turned it around and won 3-2.
Jamaica vs El Salvador
Who will enjoy a rare victory in Kingston?
Jamaica were hoping 2022 would be the year they end their 24-year World Cup exile but, largely due to off-field issues, it wasn’t to be.
The Reggae Boyz have won just one of 11 matches in this group, beating Honduras 2-0 in San Pedro Sula back in October.
This form saw Theodore Whitmore sacked as Head Coach with Paul Hall now in charge.
Visitors El Salvador aren’t mathematically eliminated just yet but, given that they’re eight points off fourth, it seems implausible.
La Azul y Blanco are two points above their hosts having beaten Panama at home and Honduras away so far.
However, their wait for a first World Cup appearance since Spain ’82 will go on.
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