How Canada can qualify for the World Cup in Qatar: Scenarios explained for CanMNT in 2022

Canada have only qualified for one FIFA Men’s World Cup in the country’s history, but that could change ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Reds lead the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers with eight matches played, and there is a real possibility that Canada will qualify for their first World Cup since 1986. Yet there are still a lot of work to do to clinch one of the three direct matches. berths with a group of four competing teams.

The United States are only a point behind in second place, with a head-to-head clash between the two teams looming at the end of the month. Mexico and Panama are also close at hand just two points adrift, meaning things could change quickly, especially with three matches in the space of seven days at the end of January.

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The upcoming ninth day will be absolutely critical. Given that the top four teams are within two points of each other and all four face the bottom four teams, it’s entirely possible that a poor result could change the picture of qualifying.

CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings

Below is the current standings for the race to qualify for the 2022 CONCACAF World Cup region.

The top three teams earn automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the team finishing fourth will play an intercontinental playoff against the winner from the Oceana region. The last four teams are eliminated.

Country Please generalist O L D GF Georgia GD
Canada 16 8 4 0 4 13 5 +8
United States 15 8 4 1 3 12 5 +7
Mexico 14 8 4 2 2 11 seven +4
Panama 14 8 4 2 2 11 9 +2
Costa Rica 9 8 2 3 3 6 seven -1
Jamaica seven 8 1 3 4 6 ten -4
El Salvador 6 8 1 4 3 4 ten -6
Honduras 3 8 0 5 3 5 15 -ten

Canada’s World Cup qualifying schedule and results

Below is the full list of Canada’s past results and fixtures in their quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

Dated Match Time (ET) TV / Stream
September 2, 2021 Canada 1, Honduras 1 Strong points
September 5, 2021 United States 1, Canada 1 Strong points
September 8, 2021 Canada 3, El Salvador 0 Strong points
October 7, 2021 Mexico 1, Canada 1 Strong points
October 10, 2021 Jamaica 0, Canada 0 Strong points
October 13, 2021 Canada 4, Panama 1 Strong points
November 12, 2021 Canada 1, Costa Rica 0 Strong points
November 16, 2021 Canada 2, Mexico 1 Strong points
January 27, 2022 Honduras vs. Canada 8:05 p.m. ET
January 30, 2022 Canada vs United States 3:05 p.m. ET
February 2, 2022 El Salvador v Canada 9 p.m. ET
March 24, 2022 Costa Rica vs. Canada To be determined
March 27, 2022 Canada vs Jamaica To be determined
March 30, 2022 Panama vs. Canada To be determined

How many points to qualify for the World Cup?

If we are using past regional World Cup qualifying cycles for historical comparisons, we must use the points per game (PPG) measure, as there have only been 10 games played in the CONCACAF final round in previous cycles (compared to 14 on the calendar for Qatar 2022).

While the number of matches was different, the top three places always qualified directly for each World Cup listed below (points per match of each qualified team shown in bold). And since the 2006 World Cup, the fourth-placed team qualifies for the playoffs against a nation from another region.

Qualification 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
1998 1.8 1.7 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.6
2002 2.3 1.7 1.7 1.4 0.8 0.5
2006 2.2 2.2 1.6 1.3 1.1 0.2
2010 2.0 1.9 1.6 1.6 0.8 0.6
2014 2.2 1.8 1.5 1.1 0.8 0.5
2018 2.1 1.6 1.3 1.3 1.2 0.6
2022* 2.0 1.9 1.8 1.8 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.4

Projection of Canadian qualifying results

So what realistically needs to happen for Canada to be comfortably in that 1.8-1.9 ppg range they need to qualify without breaking a sweat? Or, if fans want to think big, how can they push towards the 2.0 PPG barrier to claim the top spot?

MORE: Which teams have qualified for the 2022 World Cup?

We have attempted to project the results of the last six games, taking a less favorable set of results to find the minimum required to comfortably qualify. Canada are currently unbeaten in first place, but have just two home games left in their last six games (against the United States and Jamaica) with four trips to Central America to come.

The aggregate of worst results includes one loss and three draws in their last six games. Taking into account a possible home loss to the United States, as well as away draws in Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras, the total of 25 points (and a mark of around 1.8 points per match) should be enough to qualify.

These results, however, leave little room for error, as a slip in one of the games would complicate matters. For example, a draw against Jamaica or El Salvador instead of a win would put Canada in a very vulnerable position (1.6 PPG), especially if the other teams around them were to continue racking up wins. Obviously, a result (maybe a win?) against USA at home would go a long way to allaying those fears.

Canada’s strong start has given them some breathing room, and CanMNT supporters are hoping the team can avoid a scenario where they need a result in the final game in Panama to clinch a berth in Qatar.

Match Dated Opponent / Result GPP
9 Thursday, January 27, 2022 Honduras 0, Canada 0 (To design) 1.9
ten Sunday, January 30, 2022 Canada 0, United States 1 (Loss) 1.7
11 Wednesday, February 2, 2022 El Salvador 0, Canada 2 (To earn) 1.8
12 Thursday, March 24, 2022 Costa Rica 1, Canada 1 (To design) 1.8
13 Sunday, March 27, 2022 Canada 1, Jamaica 0 (To earn) 1.8
14 Wednesday, March 30, 2022 Panama 2, Canada 2 (To design) 1.8

How Canada can qualify for the World Cup

With six matches remaining in the qualifying cycle and the top four teams within two points, there is still a lot of work to do and a tiny margin of error.

A top four of the best teams has been clearly established, with a relatively large gap between fourth and fifth. There are only three places guaranteed for qualification; the country finishing fourth will have to play an intercontinental knockout round against the representative of Oceania, probably New Zealand.

Canada is undefeated in eight games, with four wins and four draws on behalf of the Maple Leafs, and the ability to get results on the road has been key. They have drawn ties on the road against the United States, Mexico and Jamaica. Add them to a 4W-0L-1D home record, including a famous 2-1 home win over Mexico, and the points came in bunches.

MORE: How the Intercontinental World Cup qualifiers work

The schedule calls for four of its final six games on the road, so Canada will need the road warrior mentality to move forward. His last two home games against the United States and Jamaica will be decisive.

Canadian fans will be hoping the results of the next three-game series starting at the end of January – including this home game against the United States – will allow them to control their own destiny ahead of the final international window.

CONCACAF standings tiebreakers

There is always a possibility that the CONCACAF standings will be very tight and that Canada will be tied on points with one or more of the other seven nations in the qualifying standings. Tiebreakers would come into play.

Here are the standings tiebreakers for teams even on points:

  1. Goal difference in all group matches
  2. Most goals scored in all group matches
  3. Most points obtained in group matches between the teams concerned
  4. Goal difference in group matches between the teams concerned
  5. Most goals scored in group matches between the teams concerned
  6. Away goals (if two teams are tied)
  7. Discipline points (based on yellow/red cards)
  8. Draw by FIFA

The Qatar World Cup will be played from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

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