In a rare scenario, the CONCACAF final round of World Cup qualification starts earlier than normal (November of 2016). To make it to Russia 2018, the CONCACAF teams must finish in the top-3, or the fourth team will go through a playoff against a team from the AFC (Asian Football Confederation).
— CONCACAF (@CONCACAF) September 7, 2016
With that said, it is time to make some predictions for what is known as the “Hex,” or the final round of qualification for the World Cup.
Predicted final standings
- Costa Rica
- Trinidad & Tobago
*Faces 5th place AFC team in two-legged playoff
It should come as no surprise that the USA leads the CONCACAF, again, in qualifying. They have done so many times before, and it seems they just know how to dismantle teams at home which is incredibly important in qualification. It doesn’t necessarily translate to World Cup success, but the USA tends to handle their business in qualification.
Costa Rica will show up around this time again, as they know they maintain the potential from what they did in Brazil 2014. However, I see them finishing just short of first behind the USA. That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to look back on some great moments through qualification, but I see them falling on a few road games.
Now, for some fans, third place will be a total welcome after the fiasco which was 2013 for Mexico, but some fans will have wanted to see better. The Mexicans have a lot of talent, but they have started to falter under the guidance of Juan Carlos Osorio. To make matters worse, they have to start off by going into Columbus, Ohio, where they have never scored a goal, and try to get a result against their biggest rival.
Panama has been a pesky team in the CONCACAF for a while and I see them finally getting through to Russia 2018. They will have to do it through the playoff, but few Panamanians will care once they stamp their ticket to the biggest stage in the world.
For the last two, Trinidad & Tobago and Honduras, it will just not be enough. They both might be able to get a nice upset or two, but the strenuous run of qualification will be too much at the end of it all.
How do these predictions look? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below!
Keep it right here on The Stoppage Time, powered by Azteca Soccer, for more world football news and updates on all things CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube page.