What’s at stake as Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifers resume

Photo: Showkat Shafi – Al Jazeera


With a two-week international break, football turns its attention to the World Cup qualifers.

By Aljazeera

Jan 27, 2022

The eight stadiums are ready in Qatar and World Cup tickets have been on sale for a week.

Now the race to snap up remaining tournament slots resumes. With qualifying disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, fixtures have been squeezed in over the next week or so for teams in the Américas and Asia.

It means Europe’s top leagues will have to take a mid-season break even though the continent’s national teams are not playing next until March when the World Cup playoffs are staged as scheduled.

Attention will then turn to the final tournament draw in Qatar capital Doha on April 1, which will take place ahead of the intercontinental playoffs in June completing the 32-team field for the Middle East’s first World Cup.

Who has qualified so far?


North and Central América & the Caribbean

A chill will be in the air in CONCACAF for an unusual January international window featuring triple-headers.

The US hosts El Salvador on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, where the expected temperature for kickoff was -4C (25F). The US then travels to Hamilton, Ontario, to play Canada on Sunday, and moves on to complete the window against Honduras in the US city of St Paul, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, seeking its first World Cup appearance since 1986, Canada has four of six remaining matches on the road – with games in Honduras and El Salvador sandwiching the home meeting with the Americans.

The US, who want to return to the World Cup after missing out on 2018, is second in the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 15 points after eight of 14 games, one point behind Canada. Mexico and Panama have 14 points each, followed by Costa Rica (nine), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three).

The top three teams qualify and the fourth team advances to a playoff against the Oceania champion, likely New Zealand.

South América

Apart from last-place Venezuela, seven other CONMEBOL countries are still in contention to join Brazil and Argentina in Qatar, with four qualifiers remaining.

Third-place Ecuador can edge closer to one of the four direct-qualification spots on Thursday with a win over Brazil.

Peru and Colombia are both six points behind Ecuador going into their clash on Friday of fourth and fifth.

Sitting a further point down is Chile, which hosts Argentina on Thursday, and Uruguay, which will be hosted by ninth-place Paraguay.

Bolivia plays at Venezuela on Friday with two points separating the eighth-place team from the qualification places.

The fifth-place team after CONMEBOL qualifying concludes in March can still make the tournament by beating an Asian team in the intercontinental playoffs in June.

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