With the release of the latest edition of the FIFA rankings now out, we take a look at how that affects Canada for the next international window, as they fight for a top 6 spot ahead of summer 2020.
The latest edition of the FIFA world rankings hit the press early Thursday morning, revealing the biggest movers and shakers from the latest FIFA International window, with teams in most continents playing some meaningful games. With World Cup qualifiers, Continential tournament qualifiers and friendlies being played across the planet, it was an exciting week for those who enjoy watching the best players in each country come together to play good football with each other.
For those in Canada, as well as a handful of other CONCACAF Nations, the announcement of these FIFA Rankings has temporarily become a much-awaited activity, with the fates of their countries World Cup hopes hinging on the balance of them. In the race towards summer 2020, where the top 6 CONCACAF teams in that edition of the rankings automatically advance to the Hexagonal for 2022 World Cup qualifying, being in that top 6 is imperative for many countries, with the alternative being a 25 team gauntlet for a half-chance to sneak into the World Cup.
With that in mind, here is the latest CONCACAF standings update, with the teams that are still pretty much still in that race for the ‘Hex’. (Sadly Trinidad and Tobago are just cut out of our list, as they are probably the team screwed over most by this process, despite making the Hex last time and even producing some upsets like their one over the US).
|Team||CONCACAF Rank (World Ranking in brackets)||Total Ranking Points|
|Costa Rica||4 (47)||1436|
|El Salvador||7 (73)||1336|
*bold denotes top 6, who would qualify to ‘Hex’ if the World Cup qualifiers started today
Implications for November:
This latest update means that big implications will be in play for the November international window, where the last slate of games in the group stage for the Nations League will wrap up, determining the fates of several teams heading into the new year. So for a side like Canada, who have jumped into the top six with a huge victory over the high-ranked US, it still leaves a lot to play for. With another clash against the US looming, this time down in Orlando, they’ll need to at least draw, which may knock them out of the top 6, but will ensure their participation in the Nations League knockout stages in 2020.
Another victory for the Canadians would ensure them around the same 17 points that they earned last time out, which would widen the gap between them and El Salvador, but it’s not going to be easy against a motivated American side. A draw would earn them around 5 points, but El Salvador is set to earn around 10 points for winning their last 2 Group B Nations League clashes, which would currently put them up by 1 point over Canada (who would need to still draw in that case, a loss would put them behind by more).
Canada Soccer could also organize a friendly to get more points, maybe within the US or back up in Canada, but they would have to make sure they earn a victory if they do that, as they could also just as easily lose points through a loss. While it would be good to see them organize one, as it’s also just good for John Herdman to get some playing time for some of Canada’s players, but it may be too last minute for them to engage in that process in time for November.
Another team to watch out for will be Panama, who takes on Mexico at home in their last game of the group stage, a game that could give them around 18 points if they pull off the result. While Canada winning as well would block their entry to the top six even if they win, it would be a big boost for their chances, as it would keep their slim chances to head to the final round of Nations League alive. Along with a friendly against the United Arab Emirates after they play that Mexico game, Panama can make some big gains if everything falls their way next window.
Honduras and Curacao will be the other teams for Canada to keep an eye on next window, as those two teams on either side of Canada will have some big games to play. While Honduras is already through to the knockout stages, as fellow group members Trinidad and Tobago and Martinique cannot catch up to them, a loss to T&T could take a good chunk of points away from them due to the difference in rankings. Luckily for them, they can take a rest against Martinique, who is not a FIFA member, meaning their game has no FIFA rankings implications, but that does also mean that it gives them less of a chance to widen the gap between them and Canada.
For Curacao, they’re in the middle of a dogfight to emerge from their group, as they sit on top of Costa Rica and Haiti heading into the last matchday. While it’s nearly impossible for Haiti to catch Curacao, due to the difference in goal difference, Costa Rica poses a big threat, with their clash against Curacao in Curacao likely being the one that will decide the group. With the Nations League Knockout stages providing a chance for a higher points multiplier, as well as no possibility to lose any (since you can only gain points in knockout games), Canada may want Costa Rica to win to eliminate Curacao from the running.
Key Matches to watch:
- Curacao vs Costa Rica, Nations League A (Group D), Thursday, November 14th, 17:00 PST
- USA vs Canada, Nations League A (Group A), Friday, November 15th, 16:00 PST
- Panama vs Mexico, Nations League A (Group B), Friday, November 15th, 19:00 PST
- El Salvador vs Montserrat, Nations League B (Group B), Saturday, November 16th, 19:00 PST
- Costa Rica vs Haiti, Nations League A (Group D), Sunday, November 17th, 17:00 PST
- Honduras vs Trinidad and Tobago, Nations League A (Group C), Sunday, November 17th, 19:00 PST
- El Salvador vs Dominican Rebuplic, Nations League B (Group B), Tuesday, November 19th, 15:00 PST
- Panama vs United Arab Emirates, Friendly, Tuesday, November 19th, time TBD
It all sets up for yet another exciting matchday in the CONCACAF Nations League, as plenty is still yet to be decided heading into the knockout stages. While it would have been nice if the World Cup qualifiers kept a regular format, instead of using these arbitrary FIFA Rankings that screw over teams like Trinidad and Tobago, there is a nice race for that 6th spot currently brewing. In an ideal world, Canada, Curacao, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti and Honduras fight it out in a tournament for those last 2 spots, but given the possibility that 3 of those teams could make the Nations League knockouts next year, that wouldn’t be so bad either.
For Canada, they’ll just want to hope they can find a way to replicate their dream performance from Toronto down in Orlando, as they look to return to the Hex for the first time since the turn of the century. After several instances of heartbreak, they now have a clear path set out for them, they’ll just want to make sure they drive right down the middle of it.