Friday, July 22, 2011

Second Round CONCACAF


Round 2

This will be the most anticipated and comprehensive for World Cup Qualifying for CONCACAF. Never before have there been so many teams eager to qualify. Most nations believe they can win their group. The last qualifying round had 24 nations in a home/away series to get to the Semi-finals (Final 12 teams). Some of these smaller teams were slaughtered in this round against the powers of CONCACAF. USA beat Barbados 9-0 aggregate, Mexico belted Belize 9-0 aggregate and Jamaica blasted Bahamas 13-0. These were not competitive games. Most nations waited 4 years for these 2 games and were bounced early. They had to wait another 4 years to qualify again. This format did not promote the sport at all.

This new revised qualification will have 24 nations play in 6 groups of 4 teams. In these groups each nation will play a home and away series against the other 3 nations. This will give each team a minimum of 6 games. Most of these nations will be hosting 3 World Cup Qualification games for the first time. This is great for the host country to promote the sport and get the country behind the national team.

Another aspect I like is that the power nations (top 6 nations like USA, Mexico, Costa Rica) are not involved in Round 2. This will make the Round much more competitive and interesting. The favorite nations (pot 4) are not “shoe ins” to qualify for the next round. This will make the groups so much more interesting to watch.

A few notes.

Pot 4

          I see Panama as the top team here. The only way they lose is they become over confident and choke. Canada will want to prove themselves after a disasterous Gold Cup. El Salvador should  not lose at Cuscatalan. Grenada is the newcomer so surprises are expected, Trinidad and Tobago wants to regain their past dominance over the Caribbean and Haiti is very happy to have their national stadium remodeled by FIFA after the earthquake.

Pot 5

Guatemala should be in Pot 4 so no one in Pot 4 will want them in their group. They are extremely good at home. I personally do not want them group with Panama or El Salvador. Hoping they get a Caribbean nation. The South American Nations of Suriname and Guyana will not play each other in this group. This will be great to see how they compete at home against most Caribbean teams. so we can see how they fair against other CONCACAF nations. Dominica is the weakest and I am not expection much from them.

Pot 6

We have been waiting for the Puerto Rico national team to compete as well as the Puerto Rico Islanders. I hope it is this fall in this qualifying round. I want their fans to pack their stadium. They could surprise will a favorable draw and get a Caribbean teams from Pot 4 and Pot 5. Barbados and Curacao will also make noise in a favorable draw but I do not expect either to win their group. Nicaragua is also hoping they avoid their Central American foes in this upcoming draw. They play competatively in the Central American Cup but could lack confidence against Panama, El Salvador and guatemala. They will make it difficult for any Caribbean nations to play at Estadio Cacique DiriangĂ©n. We may even see Nicaragua play in their new national stadium in Managua. Nicaragua has been slowely building thier youth program so we can see how they have progressed. They will be fun to monitor.

Pot 7

I do no see anyone from this group to advance to the next stage. We have not see Bermuda play yet but they could surprise. Dominican Republic and the Bahamas have not been scored on yet so we will have to keep an eye on them. USVI  hope they are not slaughtered and embarassed every game. Saint Lucia has played the most competative series against Aruba so far. Hopefully they can gain confidence from this win to the next round and stay focused. I have lost any faith that Belize can compete near the top in this next round. There is to much turmoil in their camp.The government and the BFF are quarrelling and this is not good for the sport in Belize. It was a shame they Belize could not host games in Belize because of this disagreement. I thought they could win a few games but this look bleak in this camp.

1 comment:

Lorric said...

On Guatemala, I think they'll take Grenada or Haiti out, and I'd tip them to take Canada out too. They might beat T+T or El Salvador too, though I'd favour those two to advance. Panama is the only one I'd see as strong favourites. I think they'll just blast through whatever group they get put in.

Grenada will need a good draw to advance, and Haiti perhaps too. Everyone will want those two as their top seed. The groups containing those two will be up for grabs, but teams put into groups with the other 4 are likely to be just fodder for the big dogs.

Puerto Rico, I guess we'll just have to see what they bring to the table.