clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Road Ahead: Canada’s Possible Paths to Qatar

Three matchdays left, many possible outcomes. How many see Canada clinch?

Sean Pollock

Canada is going to Qatar.

This is a fact. It cannot be denied. As things stand going into the final three match days of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying cycle, Canada is assured of at least a spot in June’s inter-confederation playoff against the winner of the Oceania Football Confederation’s qualifying tournament. No sequence of results of the remaining games allows Canada to fall behind all of the USA, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. Any of those teams can still pass Canada, but not all at once. If Panama and Costa Rica each win out (and Costa Rica makes up the goal difference) that would mean the USA lost twice, preventing them from passing Canada.

So it’s settled. Canada is going to Qatar. But are they going to the World Cup? Well that, my friends, is the bigger question.

World Cup Clinching Scenarios


Two or Three Points

The most direct route for Canada to get to Qatar is to win a game out of their remaining three. Just one. Hell, two draws will do it. Two points in the standings makes it impossible for Panama to catch Canada, and Costa Rica already needs to hope Canada loses out by multiple goals and they win out by multiple goals just to catch the Canucks. The 13 goal difference is pretty big. But it’s possible.

There are 81 possible outcomes of winning, losing and drawing on matchday 12. Of those, 45 (Canada wins, or Canada draws and Panama fails to win) sees Canada clinch a World Cup spot. Nine of them (Canada draws and Panama wins) still require Panama to overcome the goal differential.

The biggest bummer is: Canada cannot clinch on matchday 12 if they lose. The universe won’t allow it. But they will still have two matchdays to figure it out. UPDATE: Turns out, Canada CAN advance with a loss, if the USA loses to Mexico and Panama doesn’t win against Honduras.


One Point

If Canada draws in any of their matches, it requires Panama to win out and make up the goal differential. The matchday 16 match in Panama against Canada would have large implications. If not, Canada clinches. Simple as that.


Zero Points

No points, losing out, Pot 4 at best. Even with this, if Costa Rica can’t make up the goal difference, and/or if Panama don’t win out, and/or if Mexico and/or the USA fail to get four points and make up the goal difference...Canada clinches.


Fourth Place Scenarios

Worst case, Ontario, Canada comes in fourth. How can this happen?

Option 1)

USA, Mexico, Panama take top 3 spots.

In order for this to happen:

  • Canada loses out, or draws against Costa Rica or Jamaica
  • Panama wins out, or wins out and makes up goal difference
  • Mexico draws USA, gets four points from games against El Salvador and Honduras and makes up goal difference, or wins both
  • USA loses to Panama, draws Mexico, beats Costa Rica by a lot and make up the goal differential

Option 2)

USA, Mexico, Costa Rica take top 3 spots.

In order for this to happen:

  • Canada loses out
  • Costa Rica wins out and makes up the goal difference
  • Panama doesn’t win out
  • Mexico draws USA, gets four points (with good enough goal differential) or more from games against El Salvador and Honduras
  • USA draws Mexico, beats Panama by enough to make up goal difference

OR

  • USA beat Mexico by enough to make up goal difference and draws Panama
  • Mexico gets four points or more from games against El Salvador and Honduras and makes up goal difference

Option 3)

Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica take top 3 spots.

  • Canada loses out
  • Costa Rica wins out and makes up the goal difference
  • Panama wins out
  • Mexico gets four points or more from games against USA, El Salvador and Honduras and makes up goal difference
  • Hell freezes over?

So in the end, the odds are really, really good that Canada makes the top three, but there are a few options out there where they don’t. But their performance through 11 rounds means that the pressure is all on others to catch them. Despite the absence of Davies, Les Rouges are too ready to cross the finish line and punch their tickets to the first World Cup the men’s team will have taken part in