The journey to Russia was contested fiercely by the countries from North, Central America and the Caribbean. They threw everything they had at it to make the cut. At the conclusion of things Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama were the victors. The mighty USA could not weather the storm and miss the world cup for the 1st time since 1986.
The qualifiers in North, Central America and the Caribbean was divided into 5 rounds and a play-off. The 1st round was played among14 nations ranked 22nd to 35th within the continent in a two legged affair. The 7 winners were joined by the 13 nations ranked 9th to 20th to play a home and away fixture in the second round. The 10 winners that advanced were joined by the 7th and 8th ranked nations in the continent in the 3rd round.
A two legged fixture was played between them after they were paired. The 6 winners were joined in a group of 4 by the 6 top ranked teams on the continent in the 4th round. The winners and runners up of the 3 groups advanced to the 5th round. In the 5th round the 6 victors played a home and away fixture as a group with the top 3 qualifying straight to Russia. The 4th placed nation went into a play-off against the 5th placed team from Asia. This was how unique the journey of the victors were.
JOURNEY OF MEXICO TO RUSSIA.
Mexico because of her rank on the continent only joined the qualifiers at the 4th round. Even at that stage, she still had a lot of work to do. She was placed in Group A where her opponents were Honduras, Canada and El Salvador. Mexico began the 4th round and the whole journey with a 3 nil win over El Salvador. She followed it by a 2 nil and a 3 nil win over Honduras and Canada respectively.
The second leg was similar with a 2 nil win and a 3-1 win over Canada and El Salvador respectively. She round the group with a goalless draw against Honduras. Mexico finished as group leaders and qualified for the 5th round. The 5th round began for Mexico in a similar fashion as the 4th round. She won her 1st match against USA by a 2-1 score line. It was followed by a 0-0 draw with Panama.
Mexico won the next matches against Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras by 2 nil, 1 nil and 3 nil respectively. A 1-1 draw against came next followed by a 1 nil win over Panama. Another 1-1 draw with Costa Rica soon followed. Mexico posted a 3-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago and a 3-2 loss to end the qualifiers. The last few results didn’t matter as she had already qualified.
JOURNEY OF COSTA RICA TO RUSSIA.
Costa Rica like Mexico joined the qualifiers at the 4th round and topped group B. She began the journey by posting a 1 nil and 2-1 win over Haiti and Panama. That result was followed by a 1-1 draw and a 3 nil win against Jamaica. She rounded the group stage with a 1 nil and 3-1 win over Haiti and Panama.
Costa Rica began the 5th round by beating Trinidad and Tobago and USA 2 and 4 nil respectively. That was followed by a 2 nil loss to Mexico, a 1-1 draw with Honduras and a 0-0 draw with Panama. She came back to life to win 2-1 and 2-0 against Trinidad and Tobago and USA respectively. A 1-1 draw with Mexico and Honduras soon followed. Costa Rica ended the mini league with a 2-1 loss to Panama.
JOURNEY OF PANAMA TO RUSSIA.
Panama is making her 1st appearance at the FIFA world cup. She also started her qualifiers from the 4th round and was in the same group as Costa Rica. She began the journey by posting a 2 nil win over Jamaica and a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica. That was followed by a goalless draw and a 1 nil win against Haiti. Panama rounded the group with a 2 nil win over Jamaica and a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
Panama began the 5th round with a 1 nil win over Honduras and a goalless draw with Mexico. That was followed by a 1 nil loss to Trinidad and Tobago and a 1-1 draw with USA. Another goalless draw with Costa Rica and a 2-2 draw with Honduras followed. A 1 nil loss to Mexico and a 3 nil win over Trinidad and Tobago came next. Panama rounded the qualifiers with a 4 nil loss to USA and a 2-1 win over Costa Rica.
RUSSIA WELCOMES CONCACAF.
The representatives of North, Central America and the Caribbean have been accepted by Russia. How they will fare or perform in the chilly weather is anyone’s guess. Will they pull a huge surprise over everyone and make it to the quarter finals? Will all their representatives exit the group stage? All this question and more will be answered in due time.
But one thing that is certain is that they deserve to be there. They are going to enjoy themselves and give a good account of themselves. And Russia is going to help them do that. Russia once again welcome the reps of Concacaf to it borders and grant them reprieve from their journey.
Please share your views on this post in the comment section below. Do share and like the post if you find it interesting enough.
FYA SPORTS: Because you and I love sports.