World Cup: Qualifying Scenarios of the Final Day of North America's Third Round

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2012

World Cup: Qualifying Scenarios of the Final Day of North America's Third Round

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    Well, that was an interesting day of World Cup qualifying.

    Friday's 36 matches were incredible, each filled with its own drama and providing insight into teams to watch out for in Brazil.

    By the end of it all, it was North American qualifying that took center stage. As opposed to the other matches that were just an early step in a long process, North America's qualifiers carried some real do-or-die conditions as the teams round up their groups.

    After Friday's matches, just one match day is left before the groups are finished, which will take place on Tuesday. After that, the two nations in the top two spots of their group will be headed to the final round of North American qualifying, a six-team group that will determine the 3.5 teams to go to Brazil.

    So what could happen in the final day of qualifying? And what should we expect to happen?

    Let's break down the scenarios.

Group A

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    Here is where we stand going into the final round of matches:

    Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
    Guatemala 5 3 1  1 8 5 +3 10
    USA 5 3 1  1 8 5 +3 10
    Jamaica 5 2 1  2 5 5 0 7
    Antigua and Barbuda 5 0 1  4 3 9 -6 1

    (Antigua and Barbuda have been eliminated while the other three are fighting for two spots)

     

    Matches Remaining

    USA vs Guatemala

    Jamaica vs Antigua and Barbuda

     

    Scenarios

    USA advance if:

    • They defeat or draw Guatemala OR
    • Jamaica does not defeat Antigua and Barbuda OR
    • They lose to Guatemala, Jamaica defeats Antigua and Barbuda, AND
      • Each match ends with a one-goal difference OR
      • The USA loses by two goals, Jamaica wins by one, but Jamaica scores less than four more goals than the USA in their matches OR
      • Jamaica wins by two goals, USA loses by one, but Jamaica scores less than four more goals than the USA in their matches

     

    Guatemala advance if:

    • They defeat or draw USA OR
    • Jamaica does not defeat Antigua and Barbuda OR
    • They lose to Guatemala, Jamaica defeats Antigua and Barbuda, AND
      • Each match ends with a one-goal difference OR
      • Guatemala loses by two goals, Jamaica wins by one, but Jamaica scores less than three more goals than Guatemala in their matches OR
      • Jamaica wins by two goals, Guatemala loses by one, but Jamaica Scores less than three more goals than Guatemala in their matches

     

    Jamaica advance if:

    • They defeat Antigua and Barbuda, USA defeats Guatemala, AND
      • The sum of the margin of victories in the two matches is more than three OR
      • Jamaica wins by two goals, Guatemala loses by one goal, and Jamaica scores at least four more goals than Guatemala in their matches OR
      • Jamaica wins by one goal, Guatemala loses by two goals, and Jamaica scores at least four more goals than Guatemala in their matches
    • They defeat Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala defeats USA, AND
      • The sum of the margin of victories in the two matches is more than three OR
      • Jamaica wins by two goals, the USA loses by one goal, and Jamaica scores at least four more goals than the USA in their matches OR
      • Jamaica wins by one goal, the USA loses by two goals, and Jamaica scores at least four more goals than the USA in their matches

     

    Jamaica and Guatemala play a one-match playoff if:

    • Jamaica defeats Antigua and Barbuda, USA defeats Guatemala, the sum of the margins of victory is three and Jamaica scores three more goals than Guatemala

     

    Prediction

    Clearly, the USA and Guatemala have quite an advantage here, as Jamaica's fate does not rest entirely in their own hands.

    Looking at Jamaica's fine home record, I'd be very surprised to see them fail to win against Antigua and Barbuda. Similarly, I'd say that the USA will get the job done against Guatemala.

    Hence, it will all come down to goal difference.

    I predict a 2-0 victory for the USA and a 1-0 victory for Jamaica, leaving Jamaica on the doorstep and Guatemala backing their way into the next round.

    Obviously, that one could go either way.

Group B

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    Here is where we stand going into the final round of matches:

    Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
    Mexico 5 5 0 13 2 +11 15
    Costa Rica 5 2 1  2 7 5 +2 7
    El Salvador 5 1 2  2 8 9 -1 5
    Guyana 5 0 1  4 5 17 -12 1

    (Mexico has already clinched a spot in the next round, Guyana has been eliminated)

     

    Matches Remaining

    Costa Rica vs Guyana

    Mexico vs El Salvador

     

    Scenarios

    Costa Rica advances if:

    • They defeat Guyana, OR
    • El Salvador does not defeat Mexico, OR
    • They draw Guyana AND
      • El Salvador defeats Mexico by fewer than three goals, OR
      • El Salvador defeats Mexico by exactly three goals, but Costa Rica more goals than El Salvador

     

    El Salvador advances if:

    • They defeat Mexico and Costa Rica loses to Guyana, OR
    • They defeat Mexico, Costa Rica draws Guyana, AND
      • They defeat Mexico by four or more goals, OR
      • They defeat Mexico by exactly three goals and score at least as many goals as Costa Rica

     

    Prediction

    After Friday's victory for Costa Rica over El Salvador, this one became a pretty clear one: Costa Rica will join Mexico in the next round.

    I expect Costa Rica to defeat Guyana and Mexico to defeat El Salvador on Tuesday.

Group C

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    Here is where we stand going into the final round of matches:

    Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
    Panama 5 3 1  1 5 1 +4 10
    Canada 5 3 1  1 5 2 +3 10
    Honduras 5 2 2  1 4 2 +2 8
    Cuba 5 0 0  5 0 9 -9 0

    (Cuba have been eliminated from contention)

     

    Matches Remaining

    Cuba vs Panama

    Honduras vs Canada

     

    Scenarios

    Panama advance if:

    • They do not lose to Cuba, OR
    • Honduras do not defeat Canada, OR
    • They lose to Cuba, Honduras defeat Canada, AND
      • They lose by as many goals or fewer than Canada lose by, OR
      • They lose by one more goal than Canada, but score as many or more goals than they do

     

    Canada advance if:

    • They do not lose to Honduras, OR
    • They lose to Honduras, Panama lose to Cuba, AND
      • Panama lose by two or more goals than Canada does, OR
      • Panama lose by one more goal than Canada does and score fewer goals in doing so

     

    Honduras advance if:

    • They defeat Canada

     

    Prediction

    After Panama and Honduras played to a 0-0 draw on Friday, this group is poised for a grand finale on Tuesday.

    Cuba have looked dreadful and even had players go missing in Toronto (presumably to defect). I can't imagine Panama failing to win on Tuesday.

    That just leaves the other match, where Canada just has to hold on to advance to the next round. Unfortunately, I think that will be asking too much against a determined, back-against-the-wall Honduras side in San Pedro Sula.

    Hence, I see Panama and Honduras coming through here.

Conclusion

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    So there you have it: I have the USA, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras advancing to the final stage of World Cup qualifying in North America.

    Do you agree? What do you think will happen? Have a question about the scenarios?

    Leave a comment below and/or follow me on Twitter.