Canada’s path to 2014 World Cup

The groups for the third round of CONCACAF qualifying have been set now that round two is in the books. Canada took first place in its round two qualifiers against St. Lucia (pop. 161 000), St. Kitts & Nevis (pop. 50 000) and Puerto Rico (pop. 3.9 million).

In the end, despite two 0-0 draws against St. Kitts & Nevis and Puerto Rico, they advanced without too much difficulty. It now gets a lot trickier.

In the third round they’ve managed to avoid both the States and Mexico and find themselves in the “group of parity” alongside Cuba, Panama and Honduras. The top two teams from this round go the hexagonal with the other top two teams from the other two groups. From this three teams qualify automatically (read: Mexico and USA plus one more) and the fourth place team gets a home and away against the winner of Oceania (read: New Zealand; the only undefeated team at the 2010 World Cup).

Looking at this strategically and statistically, if you consider recent results from other four team round robin tournaments where the top two teams advance a pattern becomes clear. A quick look at the first round of UEFA Champions League play over the past five years yields the following.

Of the 40 Second place teams advancing to the next round:

  • 2 (5%) had 13 points
  • 6 (15%) had 12 points
  • 10 (25%) had 11 point
  • 12 (30%) had 10 points
  • 7 (17.5%) had 9 points
  • 3 (7.5%)  had 8 points

None had fewer than eight points. I’m not statistically adept but even I can see that means that 70% of the second place teams had between 10 and 12 points meaning that 11 points should be seen as a safe position.

What does Canada need to do to get 11 points? The main thing they need to do is get at least one road win. And that makes Friday, June 8 a very, very important date on the Canadian soccer calendar. On that day, Canada is away to Cuba and it’s likely going to be their best shot at an away win. If they do that then they can afford to win two at home, draw one and be sitting on ten points regardless of results away to Honduras and Panama.

With the schedule being played out over the summer, weather won’t be in our favour so it’s crucial that every other aspect that can be applied in our favour is looked at and we know, going in, exactly what result, at a minimum, is necessary and leverage tactics to that end.

If we get through the fourth round, it’s an even bigger dogfight but let’s just look at this one round at a time…


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8 Responses to Canada’s path to 2014 World Cup

  1. cutleron says:

    The amazing thing about the story so far is the quality in the St. Kitts & Nevis team. 50000 people. That’s, like, less than 5000 men of the right age. We’ve got about twice that in the geographic area covered by Gregor’s VUFC club!
    11 of them (WITHOUT their best player Atiba Harris) can hold Canada scoreless and look pretty decent in possession as well. Unbelievable. Maybe we should invite our national team to play a Point-Grey-Dunbar-Kerrisdale select team and see what happens.

  2. Colin Elmes says:

    Here is another for you. Uruguay- 3rd place in W Cup and Copa America Champions. 41,800 registerred players. We have 100,000 plus here in BC.

    I agree with Gregor, nothing less than 3 points in Cuba on the 8th of June.

    I was at Swanguard for our opening game vs Guatemala for 2006 W Cup qualifying. We lost 3 nil. I turned to someone sitting beside me and said “thats it, we are out” . The guys thought I was crazy.

  3. cutleron says:

    I was at Swangard at the back end of that campaign, when we were officially eliminated by Costa Rica, despite a 1:0 halftime lead through a DeRo rocket from 30 yards.
    I’ll be naive and suggest the refereeing has to get better, so at least we’ll have an advantage compared to the qualifying for ’06 and ’10 when we wuz robbed a few times.

  4. K says:

    Canada was robbed TWICE v. Honduras in the last cycle. Who can recall the phantom foul called against Occean in Edmonton which would have given Canada a late 2-1 lead!?

    How does Canada qualify for the next world cup? Junior Hoilett. Jonathan de Guzman. Maybe Daniel Fernandes. None of which will play for Canada I am sadly fairly certain of.

    Truly though – with the squad we have? The guys just have to be LESS Canadian.

    Win on match day 1 – not a “must” but they can’t lose it. It is Cuba and they were extremely poor in the GC so we should get a result. scoreline doesn’t matter – though lots will say “we must win 3 or 4-0” which isn’t fair on the guys. Need two wins at home, and 2 road draws MINIMUM, to get to 8 points. There SHOULD be lots of draws in this group so while 11 pts gets us through for sure, 8-10 is probably enough….but I am not sure if tie breaker is goal difference or head-t0-head….prob GD.

    But yes, 2 wins at home, 1 win away, and as many draws as we can muster without playing for draws – because CR, and Pan are better at that than we are and will beat us that way!

    Round 3 should actually be a more challenging round than the Hex because the USA-Mex games are throwaways. Take what you can get from them and move on. (Keeping in mind we drew Mexico 2-2 last time around!)….Essentially it is another round of 6 games b/w 4 teams playing for 2 spots. USA and Mex get #1 and #2, followed by the other 4 qualifiers battling for #3 and #4. But you know what they say “semi finals are harder than finals…”

    • Colin Elmes says:

      K. Blaming the refereeing for our failure last time round. Really? How about the 1-1 draw with Jamaica to start off the campaign.

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