The Canadian MNT is within touching distance of the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar. But what is still needed for them to pave the golden passage all the way to the desert in November?
Well... they must finish in a top three spot in the Concacaf Octagonal for automatic qualification, and frankly as things stand right now failing to land one of those top three spots will amount failure of quite drastic proportions.
But of course stranger things have happened in the world of football. So... there’s one other possibility...
Fourth place still guarantees a play-off match against the winning nation from Oceania (almost certainly New Zealand) for a place in Qatar.
But from Canada’s current lofty perch atop the Octagonal, they shouldn’t have to rely on a meeting with the All Whites to reach the promised land.
Simply put, ten points from their last 5 games will clinch it, but in reality they will need much less than that.
Canada’s immediate dangers to achieving top three are Panama and Costa Rica, two countries they have still to visit, both with fading mathematical possibilities to upset the RED applecart.
All Canada needs to do is finish above each nation.
To meander through all of the permutations is complex and lengthy, but suffice to say it’s difficult to see Costa Rica coming out of their games against Mexico (away) and USA (home) with any more than three points. It’s even less likely that Panama will glean any points from trips to both the region’s traditional powerhouses. USA and Mexico still very much needs qualification points so there will be no let-up.
All of this means, if Canada can travel to Costa Rica and Panama (the last game, which by then could realistically be a dead rubber) and avoid defeat it should be enough.
Let’s say Panama picks up maximum points at home to Jamaica and Honduras (probable), but also loses in Mexico and USA (also probable) and ties with Canada, it gives them a maximum points return of 21.
Should Costa Rica win at home to USA (possible although not probable), loses in Mexico (probable), defeats both Jamaica and El Salvador on road trips (possible, but...) and ties with Canada... the Ticos best points haul will amount to 22.
Canada already has 19 points. Add 2 more if, as suggested, they remain undefeated against Panama and Costa Rica, then they need only to find another two points from three games against USA (home), El Salvador (away) or Jamaica (home). Something you would never bet against happening these days.
I don’t believe matters will drift right through until Matchday 14 and fully expect Canada to collect enough points along the way to secure qualification before then.
Wouldn’t it be nice to go into the home game against Jamaica requiring only a point? But the truth is... it even could be over before the Reggae Boys descend...
The remaining fixtures are as follows,
Canada vs. USA
Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Panama vs. Jamaica
Honduras vs. El Salvador
Jamaica vs. Costa Rica
USA vs. Honduras
El Salvador vs. Canada
Mexico vs. Panama
Costa Rica vs. Canada
Panama vs. Honduras
Jamaica vs. El Salvador
Mexico vs. USA
Canada vs. Jamaica
Honduras vs. Mexico
El Salvador vs. Costa Rica
USA vs. Panama
Panama vs. Canada
Jamaica vs. Honduras
Mexico vs. El Salvador
Costa Rica vs. USA