Tuesday, December 7, 2021

World Cup 2022 countdown: The road to Qatar – who´s qualified, who can´t and who might

SoccerNews in World Cup 20 Nov 2021

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Qatar 2022 is now just over a year away, with the next World Cup set to begin on November 21, 2022.

While Qatar was awarded the tournament almost 11 years ago, there are many who expected the Middle Eastern nation to have it taken off them by now, such have been the controversies surrounding the event.

The bidding process has been the subject of criminal investigations due to allegations of bribery, while Qatar’s human rights record has routinely been called into question by the nation’s critics, with particular focus on the treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.

Yet here we are, a year and a day out from the big kick-off, and it appears to be all systems go for Qatar 2022.

Qualification is in full swing – for the most part, but more on that later… – and has even concluded for some countries.

Below, Stats Perform runs through how the various qualification campaigns around the globe are shaping up…

AFC (Asia)

Nations already qualified: Qatar (hosts)

Confirmed World Cup places allocated: Qatar plus four (one spot available via inter-confederation play-offs)

Asian qualification is into its decisive third stage, with everything looking rosy for Iran and South Korea in the automatic qualification spots. Both remain undefeated after six games in the six-team Group A – the Taegeuk Warriors trail by two points in second but are eight clear of United Arab Emirates.

In Group B, Saudi Arabia are in charge with 16 points and well on course to qualify. Japan are four points adrift in second and have Australia hot on their heels with 11.

The two third-placed teams will face each other in the next stage for the right to compete in the inter-confederation play-offs, from which a total of two teams will progress to the finals.

CAF (Africa)

Nations already qualified: None

Confirmed World Cup places allocated: Five

The second stage of qualifying in Africa concluded this week, with the winners of the 10 round-robin groups confirmed. Next, they will all be drawn into five home-and-away ties, and the victors progress to Qatar.

Ivory Coast are the biggest early casualty as they finished second to Cameroon in Group D, with only the Indomitable Lions going through. In Group G, Ghana pipped South Africa by virtue of scoring one more goal than their rivals, whom they defeated 1-0 on the final matchday, though FIFA is probing the outcome after Bafana Bafana asked for an investigation into the controversial nature of the winning penalty.

But, for now, the 10 teams set to contest the next stage are: Algeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

CONCACAF (North & Central America, and the Caribbean)

Nations already qualified: None

Confirmed World Cup places allocation: Three (one spot available via inter-confederation play-offs)

There is still a fair amount of time for things to change in the CONCACAF qualifiers, with each team having only played eight out of 14 matches in the final group stage, but it’s looking very good for Canada.

The Canucks have not been to a World Cup since 1986, their only previous appearance, but they sit top of the group with 16 points having just beaten Mexico.

Complacency cannot be afforded, though. The United States (15 points) and El Tri (14) are close in the other two automatic qualification spots, while Panama (also 14) occupy the inter-confederation play-off berth with a five-point cushion ahead of Costa Rica in fifth.

CONMEBOL (South America)

Nations already qualified: Brazil, Argentina

Confirmed World Cup places allocation: Four (one spot available via inter-confederation play-offs)

Brazil and Argentina have already confirmed their attendance in Qatar, and surprise-package Ecuador look set to be next after a tremendous run in qualifying. Beyond that, though, it’s all up in the air.

Colombia currently sit in the fourth automatic spot due to a better goal difference than Peru, who as it stands will go into the inter-confederation play-offs, though just four points separate Los Cafeteros from Paraguay in ninth.

With everyone bar the top two having four games to play, only Venezuela – bottom on seven points – realistically have no hope, which promises for a dramatic end to the campaign.

OFC (Oceania)

Nations already qualified: None

Confirmed World Cup places allocation: None (one spot available via inter-confederation play-offs)

Amazingly, World Cup qualification hasn’t even started in Oceania. It was due to begin in September 2020 but that – and several other revised schedules since – proved impossible due to borders closures in that part of the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There is still no confirmation of what OFC plans to do, though playing a full qualifying tournament in Qatar during March’s international window is apparently an option.

OFC has until June to get matches concluded or face the possibility of forfeiting its place in the inter-confederation play-offs later the same month.

UEFA (Europe)

Nations already qualified: Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia, England, Germany

Confirmed World Cup places allocation: 13

Ten European nations can relax to a certain extent as they have sealed their places at the World Cup, with the group stage of qualification ending this week.

The 10 group runners-up and the two best Nations League group winners who finished outside of the top two in World Cup qualification will now turn their attention towards play-offs in March.

Among those to finish second were European champions Italy and Euro 2016 winners Portugal, while Austria and the Czech Republic progress to this stage by virtue of their Nations League performances.

Inter-continental play-offs

Confirmed World Cup places allocation: Two

FIFA confirmed on Friday that the draw for the play-offs is due to take place on November 26, shortly after a similar ceremony determines which teams face each other in the European ties.

The one-legged inter-continental play-offs are due to take place on June 13 and 14, with one team present from each of the AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and OFC confederations, all of which are yet to be determined.

Australia and Peru were the nations to progress via this route ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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SoccerNews

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