FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 | QUALIFIERS PREVIEW
The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar has many detractors for many different reasons. From a footballing point of view, the fact that it will take place in November and December, rather than the traditional June and July, is a point of consternation.
Domestic seasons will be disrupted next season, with a six week break coming right in the middle of the season. Players will also face a shortened summer break this season, to allow next season to start earlier to allow for the extended break for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Long Wait Over For Canada
Over the weekend, Canada became the 20th team to quality. This will be their second trip to the World Cup and their first since 1986. With the Canadians set to co-host the 2026 World Cup with America and Mexico, they will get to enjoy participation in two World Cups during the pre-prime years of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, the two greatest Canadian players of all time.
So with 20 spots decided, there are 12 up for grabs, so let’s take a trip around the globe and see who’s still in the mix and which teams can secure qualification this week.
The four guaranteed qualification spots in South America are decided, with Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay safely through. All that’s left is to find out who will finish 5th and therefore qualify for the inter-confederation play-offs. As things stand, Peru are in the driving seat. They sit one point clear of Colombia, with one game left to play.
Colombia will travel to Venezuala on Tuesday knowing that they simply have to win. Victory gives them a chance, but they will still be relying on a result elsewhere. They need Peru to stumble in their home game against already eliminated Paraguay. Peru will be strong favourites, but anything can happen on a given night and any small slip up will open the door for Luis Diaz and his mates to overtake them.
In Asia, the four automatic qualifications spots are also filled. South Korea, Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia have all secured their spots in Qatar. All that’s left is to decide which team will face Australia to become the Asian representative in the inter-confederation play-offs and face off against Peru or Colombia. That spot will go to either the United Arab Emirates, currently with a one point advantage over Iraq, who take on South Korea in Dubai on Tuesday knowing that a win secures their spot against Australia. A slip-up could allow Iraq to jump them in the standings, should they manage to defeat Syria, in a game which will also take place in Dubai. Without wishing to write off anyone’s hopes, Australia will be strong favourites against either team when they face off in June.
Shifting to the Oceania region, Wednesday brings us the final game of their qualifying phase with the Solomon Islands taking on New Zealand. New Zealand will be heavy favourites, but victory does not secure passage to the World Cup. Oceania does not get an automatic spot at the World Cup yet, so the winners will go forward to face the fourth placed finisher from North and Central America.
Canada are the only team certain of passage from the CONCACAF qualifiers, with the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica vying for the other two places, and the third set to head to the playoffs. Mexico have the clearer path in their final game with a home game against already eliminated El Salvador being their final test on Wednesday. At the same time, America will travel to Costa Rica knowing that a draw will be enough to confirm their qualification. The knowledge of a secured place in the playoff, and the favourable tie against the Oceania qualifier, is a nice safety for all three teams but they will definitely all be wanted automatic qualification.
An African Knife Edge
Things couldn’t be tighter in Africa, with all five ties finely balanced ahead of the second legs of the final qualifiers on Tuesday. The marquee tie is the repeat of the AFCON final, with Senegal taking on Egypt. The Egyptians hold a one goal lead from the first leg thanks to a 4th minute own goal by Ciss but there was nothing else to separate the teams on the night. After the drama of the AFCON final, we could be set for another tense affair.
Algeria will host Cameroon, holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg and will confident of advancing. An Islam Slimani goal was enough to put Algeria in the drivers seat but they will be wary of getting too confident ahead of a the tricky home return. Likewise, their north-eastern neighbours Tunisia will try to hold onto the 1-0 advantage they hold over Mali, as they look to qualify for back to back World Cups.
The final two ties are right on the knife edge. Ghana were held to a 0-0 draw by Nigeria and must now travel to Abuja and win in order to reach the World Cup. Despite their outstanding talent, both sides have disappointed in recent months. This game will be either an outstanding showcase of attacking talent, or dull as dishwater. There will be no in between. The final contest pits Morocco against the Democratic Republic of Congo, not to be confused with their neighbours the Republic of Congo. The sides played out a 1-1 draw in Kinshasha, and Casablanca will be the scene for their decider.
Europe Far From Plan Sailing
And finally we find our way back to Europe where not everything is decided. Europe, of course, gets more spots at the World Cup than any other continent, a total of 13 broken down between ten groups winners and three qualifiers. Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland and the Netherlands each won their groups and claimed their places. That left the ten group stage runners up, and the two teams outside of the twenty better finishing teams who had done best in the Nations League, to move into the qualifiers. If it sounds confusing and convoluted, it’s because it is.
Anyway, the twelve teams were put into three groups of four to play semi-finals and a final in each group with the three final winners advancing. In Group A, Wales defeated Austria to claim their place in their respective final but due to the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine the contest between Scotland and Ukraine had to be pushed back until June. That in-turn pushed back the game between the winner of that contest and Wales. It may well be that Scotland are given a bye, it would be harsh on Ukraine but there may not be a better option. Regardless, Wales will just have to wait for their chance.
In Group B, Poland were granted a BYE after Russia were thrown out of the competition. It may seem harsh on the Russian players, but when your lunatic President decides to become a war criminal, these things happen to innocent bystanders. Poland will take on Sweden on Tuesday, after the Swedes squeaked past the Czech Republic thanks to a Robin Quaison goal in extra-time. This one promises to be a very competitive game.
In Group C we got the biggest shock of the qualifiers, not just in Europe but globally, as one of the teams seen as legitimate contenders to win the World Cup was eliminated. Italy played at home to North Macedonia and were expected to advance comfortably. Instead the struggled to break down a stubborn defence and were caught out by a stunning Aleksandar Trajkovski goal in stoppage time as the game appeared destined for extra time.
North Macedonia’s reward for knocking off Italy is a trip to Porto to take on a Portuguese side who struggled mightily against Turkey and were flattered by a 3-1 victory. With Cristiano set to turn 38 not long after this World Cup, it’s likely his last chance to play at one and make a real impact. No matter how much botox he has injected into his face, Father Time has caught up with his footballing ability and his days at the top are numbered. He’s never made a real impact on a World Cup, in fact he stands alone on a mountain top as the biggest flop in World Cup history relative to his standing in the game.
Portugal reached the semi-finals in 2006, despite his only contribution being a penalty in a group stage game against Iran that Portugal were already ahead in. Cristiano’s superfans point to this semi-final appearance as if he was the cause of it. In fact, it happened inspite of him. In 2010, he again managed only one goal, Portugal’s 7th in a 7-0 over North Korea. Portugal were dumped out in the Round of 16.
In 2014, it was one goal from Cristiano and out in the group stages for a Portugal team capable of more. It was his first consequential goal at a World Cup, the winner in a 2-1 victory over Ghana that made no difference as both sides had already been eliminated. In 2018, he managed four goals including a hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opening game which ended 3-3, and the winner in their second game over Morocco. He no-showed in the Round of 16 as Portugal went out.
This will be his last chance to impress at a World Cup. A combination of his age and his inability to travel to the United States of America mean he almost certainly won’t be at the 2026 World Cup. If this seems like Cristiano slander, it is. But at least you’re up to date on the World Cup qualifiers.
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How to watch FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying matches from anywhere…
In the UK FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying matches will be streamed live on Sky Sports, as well as their respective NOW apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Smart TV, Now TV, FireTV etc.
But these streaming services are not available to everyone, for example when you load Sky Sports or NOW in the USA, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Dubai, Canada etc. you will get an error message.
Sorry, THE VIDEO YOU ARE TRYING TO WATCH CANNOT BE VIEWED FROM YOUR CURRENT COUNTRY OR LOCATION.
This is basically because their streaming services are geoblocked based on the IP address being used to access it. You must be a UK domestic web user to access Sky Sports and NOW live tv streaming.
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How can I watch International Football live on Sky Sports?
Sky Sports is the main home of Premier League football with the Sky Sports Premier League and Football channels costing just £18 per month combined, or you can pick up the complete sports package from just £25 per month. NOW is essentially Sky Sports without the commitment to a lengthy contract, offering the exact same number of games. You can buy day membership (£9.99) or month membership (£33.99).
If you have a a UK VPN, then you can watch Sky Sports streaming from anywhere. Existing Sky Sports customers can watch with Sky Go on computers or their various apps. If you want to pay-as-you go with no contract then Now TV is your best bet; with their Day, Week and Month passes. Sky has a whopping 11 sports channels. It’s offering covers all sorts, from cricket, motor racing (including Formula 1 and Indycar), boxing, NBA, golf, rugby league, women’s rugby and netball. Sky’s non-Premier League football coverage sits on Sky Sports Football and now includes the Bundesliga as well as both EFL games and Scottish football fixtures.
Furthermore; Sky Sports and NOW aren’t the only geographically-censored streaming services a VPN or Proxy will allow you to access. Other UK services like BT Sport Sports, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, ITV Hub, All 4 and BritBox are available. Plus with the option to switch to our USA service whenever you like, you can access Hulu, HBO GO, Netflix and Pandora. Essentially you can access international content from virtually anywhere!