Assessing the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Groups for the CONCACAF Region
World Cup qualifying for the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) kicks off in March, with the 22nd edition of soccer’s biggest tournament set to take place in Qatar in 2022.
The top five seeds – Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Honduras – have already booked their spot in the final qualifying group. But there are still three places up for grabs.
In total, there are 30 countries in with a chance of reaching the next round. With five groups of six teams, the winner of each group will head to a knockout stage before the three victors join the big boys.
Join me as I look at every CONCACAF qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup. I also share my prediction for each group.
- El Salvador
- Antigua and Barbuda
- US Virgin Islands
El Salvador only played two games in 2020, losing 1-0 to Iceland back in January before suffering a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the USA. However, Carlos de los Cobos’ side should win this group without any real problems.
The two-time World Cup participants (1970, 1982) won five of their six CONCACAF Nations League games in 2019, scoring ten goals while conceding just one.
Grenada will fancy their chances of challenging for the top spot in Group A after enjoying an unbeaten Nations League campaign. Four wins and two draws saw the Spice Boys finish ahead of French Guiana, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Having suffered two defeats to El Salvador in 2019, Montserrat is obviously not at the same level as the frontrunners here. Meanwhile, I think the US Virgin Islands will simply be happy to avoid a clean sweep of defeats.
There are clear defensive problems for Antigua and Barbuda. The Benna Boys lost 8-0 to Guatemala in their last match and conceded 17 goals in six Nations League games.
Here is my final Group A prediction.
- 1. El Salvador
- 2. Grenada
- 3. Antigua and Barbuda
- 4. Montserrat
- 5. US Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
Canada’s sole World Cup appearance came back in 1986. But with a golden generation of players emerging, it feels like John Herdman’s men are ready to thrust their country back into the international limelight.
Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is the leading light, while MLS stars Tesho Akindele (Orlando City), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC), and Samuel Piette (CF Montreal) bring even more quality to the squad.
Needless to say, Canada should cruise to the summit of Group B.
Having said that, Suriname lost just one game en route to finishing top of their Nations League group, meaning Dean Gorre’s men will be confident of causing Canada some problems.
Bermuda looked completely out of their depth alongside Mexico and Panama in 2019, while a 2-0 loss to Jamaica in 2020 suggests that the Gombey Warriors will struggle against the stronger teams in Group B.
I think we all know that the Cayman Islands and Aruba won’t be upsetting the odds here.
This is how I see Group B ending.
- 1. Canada
- 2. Suriname
- 3. Bermuda
- 4. Cayman Islands
- 5. Aruba
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- British Virgin Islands
The only nation with any previous World Cup experience in this group is Cuba. But with their last appearance coming all the way back in 1938, that doesn’t really mean anything today.
Pablo Elier Sanchez’s side may be able to compete with the lesser teams in Group C, although heavy defeats to Mexico (7-0), Canada (7-0, 6-0), and USA (7-0, 4-0) within the last 18 months tell you exactly where Cuba is at right now.
Curaçao has proven to be a tough opponent in recent times. Led by former Chelsea and Netherlands manager Guus Hiddink, the Lesser Antilles island beat Honduras and drew with Jamaica at the last Gold Cup before suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to the USA.
Having recorded positive results against Haiti and Costa Rica recently, 2021 looks set to be a good year for Curaçao.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Guatemala still managed to play four friendly internationals in 2020. A 2-1 victory over Honduras in November was undoubtedly the standout result, although defeats to Panama (2-0) and Mexico (3-0) underline the team’s inferiority.
Saint Vincent and Grenadines could make an impact on this group, but I think it’s fair to say that the British Virgin Islands won’t.
I’m predicting that Group C will finish like this.
- 1. Guatemala
- 2. Curaçao
- 3. Saint Vincent and Grenadines
- 4. Cuba
- 5. British Virgin Islands
- Dominican Republic
Panama burst onto the scene by qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Sure, their group-stage campaign ended with three straight defeats. But Los Canaleros have continued to establish themselves on the international stage since then.
With Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres captaining the side, Panama picked up three clean-sheet wins in 2020 – two against Costa Rica and one against Guatemala.
Thomas Christiansen’s men suffered a heavy 6-2 defeat to the USA in November, but they are still expected to run away with Group D.
Anguilla conceded 21 goals in four defeats during the last Nations League, while Dominica finished bottom of their group after losing five of their six games. I think we write them off straight off the bat.
Barbados suffered back-to-back 4-1 losses to Canada in 2020. Those defeats came after a decent Nations League campaign, although Cayman Islands, Saint Martin, and US Virgin Islands offered very little resistance.
The Dominican Republic hasn’t played a game since November 2019, making it difficult to gauge how they will fare this year.
Here is my final Group D prediction.
- 1. Panama
- 2. Barbados
- 3. Dominican Republic
- 4. Dominica
- 5. Anguilla
- Saint Lucia
- Turks and Caicos Islands
Haiti’s first and only World Cup appearance came back in 1974. Since then, the Caribbean side hasn’t had much to shout about on the international stage.
However, after going all the way to the semi-finals of the 2019 Gold Cup and pushing Mexico to extra-time, Marc Collat’s men gave a good account of themselves in the Nations League – losing just one of their four games against Costa Rica and Caraçao.
I’m expecting Haiti to maintain its momentum in 2021.
Nicaragua improved on a disappointing Nations League campaign by holding Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama to draws at the end of last year. Things are looking up for La Azul y Blanco.
Meanwhile, Belize finished behind Grenada and French Guiana in their Nations League group. Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos Islands have also failed to impress in recent times.
This is how I see Group E panning out.
- 1. Haiti
- 2. Nicaragua
- 3. Belize
- 4. Saint Lucia
- 5. Turks and Caicos Islands
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Puerto Rico
Soccer fans will remember Trinidad and Tobago’s last World Cup appearance in 2006. The Soca Warriors’ squad was packed with talent back then, including former EPL stars Dwight Yorke and Shaka Hislop.
But nowadays, head coach Terry Fenwick isn’t fortunate enough to select players of that caliber. In fact, Fenwick’s men have only managed to win one of their last 16 games in all competitions.
With Saint Kitts and Nevis also enduring a rough period, I can see Guyana producing a shock in Group F. The Golden Jaguars claimed big victories over Antigua and Barbuda (5-1) and Aruba (4-2) on their way to finishing second to Jamaica in the Nations League.
As for Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, they will both be hoping to avoid embarrassment in 2021. Neither team has shown anything over the past couple of years to suggest that they will trouble the favorites in Group F.
In my opinion, Group F will finish as follows.
- 1. Guyana
- 2. Trinidad and Tobago
- 3. Saint Kitts and Nevis
- 4. Bahamas
- 5. Puerto Rico
It’s crazy to think that only three of the 30 teams entering the first round will reach the final CONCACAF qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup.
After that, the top three teams in the group will qualify for the main event in Qatar, while the fourth-placed side will head into the inter-confarreations play-offs.
With only three CONCACAF spots guaranteed at the World Cup, it is always difficult for the confederation’s lesser teams to qualify ahead of the likes of Mexico and the USA.
But following Panama’s remarkable run to the 2018 World Cup and the recent rise of nations like Costa Rica and Honduras, many of the smaller sides will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds.
Want to learn more about soccer’s most famous tournament? Here is a comprehensive look at the history of the FIFA World Cup.