Qatar 2022: New qualified teams and drama until the end
While some teams already have their place in the next World Cup, others moved closer, and the rest will fight until the end.
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There are already 15 teams qualified for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which will be played between Nov. 21 and Dec. 18 (in 290 days), leaving only 15 places left complete the 32 countries that will be part of the most important sporting event in the world.
With a qualifying round that had great emotions in the Americas, as well as in Asia and Oceania, two new teams joined the select list that will be part of the World Cup. In Europe, which will play its last qualifiers in March, and Africa, which is in the middle of the African Cup of Nations, where Senegal and Egypt play in the final on Sunday, Feb. 6, will also have to wait.
As a highlight in Oceania, before the start of the qualifying matchday, the Tonga announced its withdrawal from the qualifiers, an understandable situation after the natural disaster that the island recently suffered, which was received with solidarity and support from the entire world of football.
Following this month's devastating natural disaster, Tonga have withdrawn from March's FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ OFC preliminary competition. https://t.co/FWP4m69lc0— OFC Oceania Football (@OFCfootball) January 28, 2022
In South America, the two powers of the region, who already have their place secured in Qatar, did not slow down and achieved important results in preparation for the World Cup. While Argentina, current champion of the Copa América, won two games against Chile and Colombia, Brazil got a draw against Ecuador and a victory against Paraguay, which kept it as the sole table leader in the region.
Ecuador is now one point away from ensuring its presence in the World Cu[ after its draws against Brazil and Peru, and will have to wait until March to confirm place.
Uruguay made the biggest moves in this qualifying window. This came thanks to the six points it won in games against Paraguay and Venezuela (both eliminated) under new manager, Diego Alonso, which allowed it to move up several spots in the table into contention for direct qualification. Luis Suárez also took advantage of the most recent matchday to become the all-time top scorer in the knockout rounds, beating his friend Lionel Messi by one goal.
Peru also arrived with important emotional momentum after their triumph against Colombia as a visitor, but suffered at home and could only save one point against Ecuador, which prevented them being in a better position heading into the last qualifying date. For now, those led by Ricardo Gareca retain their place to play the playoffs, closely followed by Chile and a little further by Colombia.
Chile remains in contention thanks to an important victory against Bolivia in La Paz, featuring a brilliant performance by veteran Alexis Sánchez, who surpassed Marcelo Salas on the list of top scorers in Chilean national team history, with 20 goals. The team has its destiny in its hands heading into the last qualifying date.
On the Colombian side, where the goal drought reached seven games, there is already talk of widespread resignations, but not before the international campaign ends, where only a miracle would allow the team to go to a playoff scenario.
Unlike CONMEBOL, in CONCACAF's three-day slate was played without determining any new qualifiers. However, Canada's three wins put it in its best position to qualify for a World Cup since 1986 in Mexico, where the country made its debut.
Although dramatic and disputed, those who are closest to qualifying, Canada, the United States and Mexico, kept their places and managed to gain a greater advantage against Panama and Costa Rica, who are still in contention.
Estamos por llegar al final de las Clasificatorias pero todavía hay mucho por jugarse #CWCQ— Concacaf (@Concacaf) February 3, 2022
We are almost at the #CWCQ finish line but there is still plenty of action to be had pic.twitter.com/vGqzbIhQHc
Oceania and its half quota
After Tonga's resignation, the half quota, that is, the possibility of playing in a playoff, will be played at a mini tournament in Qatar, with a format of two groups of four teams, where the best two of each will go to the semifinals. In this zone, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, will face each other.
New qualifiers in Asia
The teams from South Korea and Iran easily made it to the World Cup, moving more than 10 points ahead of their immediate pursuers. The Koreans also completed their tenth consecutive World Cup qualification and have made it to the World Cup more than any other team on the continent.
In another of the groups, three strong contenders from the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia, are fighting for two places in a fight race.
The emotions are also concentrated in the fight for a spot in a playoff with a representative of CONMEBOL, a match where, for now, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Iraq will play fight to the very end.
March: The last call for Qatar
On the UEFA side, where there were no official games, all emotions are served for the third month of the year.
With the last places to be disputed, attention is focused on Group C and the duel between Italy and Portugal, where either the last champion of the European Championship, or Cristiano Ronaldo, could be left out of Qatar.
Twelve teams, divided into three groups (Scotland, Ukraine, Wales, Austria; Russia, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic; Italy, Macedonia, Portugal and Turkey) will compete for the last three places.
In Africa, where the third round and final phase of the qualifiers will be played in direct elimination clashes, and the final of the current African Cup of Nations between Egypt and Senegal will also get a rematch.
The other clashes are Nigeria - Ghana, Morocco - DR Congo, Cameroon - Algeria, and Mali - Tunisia.
If there are no surprises on the last day of qualifying, there will likely be no debuting teams in Qatar.
Cómo están las cosas, y considerando que R. Democrática del Congo es la antigua Zaire y que Macedonia del Norte la tiene dificil, por primera vez en los mundiales NO HABRÍA UN DEBUTANTE.— Mauricio Hoyos (@mauroelgrandote) February 3, 2022
Pero el regreso de una Canadá competitiva, refresca más que mil Islandias o Panamás...
Who has qualified so far?
UEFA: Serbia, Denmark, Spain. Netherlands, Switzerland, Croatia, France, England, Belgium and Germany.
CONMEBOL: Brazil and Argentina.
CAF (Asia): Qatar (as host), South Korea and Iran.