- Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador have made spectacular begins in South America
- Syria are flying in Asia as a number of heavyweights wrestle
- Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire are in Africa’s group of demise
The qualifying marketing campaign for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ was hit by a quantity of organisational challenges in 2020. But with the motion now beneath method in South America, and attracts held by UEFA, CAF and CONCACAF, the path to the world finals has began to take form in each confederation. FIFA.com takes a take a look at the state of play in every of the areas.
The 12 months kicked off with the draw for the second spherical of qualifiers, which featured the 14 winners from spherical one and Africa’s 26 highest-positioned groups on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
Those preliminary victors included Guinea-Bissau, who made historical past by lastly passing the first impediment of their residence-and-away contest with Sao Tome and Principe. As for Djibouti, they sealed solely their second-ever spot in spherical two by seeing off Eswatini – and avoiding an away defeat for the first time in a World Cup qualifier at the seventh try. Elsewhere, Emilio Nsue made headlines with the decisive objective for Equatorial Guinea, whereas Gerald Phiri struck a vital late penalty for Malawi and 18-12 months-outdated Ashley Williams saved a spot-kick in added time for Liberia, serving to them squeeze by way of with a 1-0 defeat in Sierra Leone following their 3-1 triumph at residence.
The 40 remaining contenders have now been divided into ten teams. The ten group winners will progress to the third spherical, the place they are going to be paired collectively in 5 residence-and-away ties. The winners of these 5 ties will qualify for Qatar 2022.
Reigning African champions Algeria look to be the clear favourites in Group A, whereas a giant identify is assured to overlook out on the finals after Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire had been each drawn in Group D. It is the same story in Group G, the place a minimum of one of Ghana or South Africa are destined to observe the world showcase from afar. As for Senegal and their star ahead Sadio Mane, the 2019 African Footballer of the Year shall be trying to make his expertise rely in opposition to Congo, Namibia and former World Cup members Togo.
The second spherical of qualifiers has already handed the midway stage amongst the 40 groups divided into eight teams. So far, continental heavyweights Australia and Japan have shocked few by claiming an ideal document from their 4 video games, however Syria have fared even higher courtesy of 5 wins in 5 matches.
Familiar faces at World Cup finals, Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic have discovered the going tougher, although each stay nicely positioned. The Green Falcons now lie a degree behind Uzbekistan however boast a recreation in hand, whereas the Taegeuk Warriors might want to roll up their sleeves to maintain tempo with shock Group H leaders Turkmenistan. The scenario seems trickier for IR Iran, who discover themselves as little as third in Group C and have virtually no room left for error.
The eight group winners and 4 greatest runners-up will advance to the third spherical, the place they are going to be drawn into two teams of six groups. The prime two in every part will safe tickets to Qatar 2022, whereas the two third-positioned sides will meet in a play-off to find out who will characterize Asia in an inter-continental playoff.
After 4 video games, it’s exhausting to attract any agency conclusions – and but some apparent tendencies have already emerged. Top of the checklist is Brazil‘s dominant begin due to 4 wins from 4 outings, their defence having conceded simply twice whereas they’ve struck 12 targets at the different finish. And this regardless of coach Tite needing to deal with accidents to Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho. A Seleçao are actually unbeaten of their final 21 World Cup qualifiers and look set to increase their document of having appeared in all 21 editions of the ultimate match.
Argentina should not far behind after posting three wins and a draw, and have additionally shipped simply two targets, placing them stage with Brazil as the continent’s hardest facet to breach. Their marketing campaign to date has likewise underlined the expertise of Lautaro Martinez up entrance, which might assist coach Lionel Scaloni ease any dependence on Lionel Messi.
Third place in the desk belongs to Ecuador, in the meantime, the shock darkish horses having recovered from a 1-0 loss away to Argentina in Gustavo Alfaro’s first recreation in cost. Since then, he has remodeled La Tri right into a goalscoring machine, producing a 4-2 win in opposition to Uruguay, a 6-1 defeat of Colombia and a primary victory in Bolivia since 2009. Ecuador will resist getting carried away, nonetheless, having gained their first 4 matches on the street to Russia 2018 earlier than in the end falling brief.
Best of the relaxation:
- Fourth and nonetheless unbeaten after three attracts and a win, Paraguay have profited from the goalscoring prowess of Angel Romero and his tally of 4 strikes.
- Luis Suarez of Uruguay has additionally helped himself to a quartet of targets, notching every of them from the penalty spot. La Celeste now lie fifth after two wins and two defeats.
- Having returned to the finals in 2018, Peru hope to repeat the expertise in 2022. Ricardo Gareca’s males have a tussle on their palms, nonetheless, selecting up only one level from their first 4 matches.
- Colombia are three factors higher off, however a 3-0 defeat by Uruguay and a 6-1 reverse in opposition to Ecuador led to Carlos Queiroz changing into the first coach to lose his job throughout the South American qualifiers.
- Despite present process a interval of transition, Reinaldo Rueda’s Chile are nonetheless being pushed ahead by their veteran gamers, with their six targets shared out between Arturo Vidal (4) and Alexis Sanchez (two).
- The dream for Venezuela is to lastly shed the label of being the solely CONMEBOL nation but to qualify for a World Cup finals. Placing hope in a number of members of the squad that completed runners-up at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2017, La Vinotinto clinched their first victory of their fourth recreation.
- Bolivia went into the qualifiers with few illusions about their probabilities, however they had been a minimum of hoping to make residence benefit rely. Unfortunately, La Verde have misplaced each their video games in La Paz and prop up the desk.
North, Central America and the Caribbean
Although the qualifiers are but to start in earnest, the draw for the first spherical came about in August. Based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for July 2020, CONCACAF’s 30 lowest-positioned sides had been cut up throughout six totally different teams.
The six group winners will face off in three predetermined residence-and-away ties – and the victors in these jousts will then contest the third spherical together with the 5 highest-positioned CONCACAF groups in the identical FIFA Ranking (Costa Rica, USA, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico). Those eight sides will play in opposition to one another residence and away in a spherical-robin format and the prime three nations will qualify for Qatar 2022, whereas the fourth-positioned group will dispute an intercontinental play-off.
The qualifiers have likewise not began in Europe, the place a draw on 7 December laid out the street forward.
The ten group winners will qualify robotically for Qatar 2022 and the ten runners-up will enter the play-offs, which will even embrace the two greatest group winners from the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League who haven’t already certified for the finals or play-offs. Those 12 groups shall be divided into three qualifying paths, with knockout ties figuring out the three remaining European sides to achieve the World Cup.
There have additionally been no qualifying matches between the OFC’s 11 member associations: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga and Vanuatu. The area’s prime facet after the qualifiers will contest an intercontinental play-off.