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2014 World Cup: Complete Guide to Wednesday's CONCACAF Qualifiers

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2013

2014 World Cup: Complete Guide to Wednesday's CONCACAF Qualifiers

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    With the 2014 World Cup a little over a year away, the last round of North American qualifiers are set to begin Wednesday to begin the countdown to Brazil.

    The final group of six nations, or "hex," will play a total of 30 matches between Wednesday and October, with each nation participating in both a home and away fixture with each of the other five.

    After each team has played their 10 matches, the top three will advance directly to the final tournament, with a fourth entering a playoff with the winner of the Oceanic qualifying group.

    So what is there to look forward to in tomorrow's matches? What should one expect? How will it affect the rest of the qualifying campaign?

    Here is a complete guide to Wednesday's qualifiers.

Honduras vs. USA

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    When and where to watch

    4:00 pm, beIN Sport

     

    How they got here

    The USA had a much harder time than expected in the previous round of qualifying, allowing their qualification to hang in the balance on the final matchday before ultimately winning the group.

    Honduras also had a tougher time than many thought they would. Through a string of poor results, they had their backs against the wall in their final match, needing a win against Canada. Their 8-1 trouncing of the Canadians, though, showed just how good this team can be.

     

    Previous meetings

    Qualification for the 2010 World Cup saw these two nations compete in two fine and well-matched encounters.

    The USA eked out the victory in both, 2-1 at home and 3-2 away, but conceded the first goal in both.

     

    Key stat

    The USA won just one of their three away matches in the last round of qualifying. That win came through a stoppage minute goal against Antigua and Barbuda.

     

    Odds

    Honduras: 9/5

    Draw: 9/4

    USA: 3/2

     

    Prediction

    Honduras is probably the strongest dark-horse in this hexagonal group. Further, the USA has really been struggling away from home.

    However, it's hard to see the Americans losing with the talent they have on their roster. A draw is a good bet here and will be a good result for the USA.

    Honduras 1, USA 1

Panama vs. Costa Rica

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    When and Where to Watch

    9:00 pm, beIN Sport

     

    How They Got Here

    Panama had a shockingly good run through the third round of qualifying, getting a key win in Honduras to propel them to this stage.

    Costa Rica, meanwhile, were a bit of a disappointment. Their losses to Mexico were understandable, but they also had a tougher time with El Salvador than one would have expected and allowed qualification to come down to the last matchday.

     

    Previous Meetings

    The last World Cup qualifying meetings between these two came back in 2005, where Costa Rica picked up two relatively easy victories.

    However, Panama won a friendly between the two in 2011.

     

    Key Stat

    Panama is unbeaten in its last 10 home competitive matches. However, its last loss came to Costa Rica on penalties in the 2011 Copa Centroamerica.

     

    Odds

    Panama: 11/10

    Draw: 23/10

    Costa Rica: 5/2

     

    Prediction

    Costa Rica has been competitive throughout the past few World Cup qualifying campaigns.

    However, Panama has been on a tear at home over the past few years. The evidence of the past few years points to Panama in a squeaker.

    Panama 2, Costa Rica 1

Mexico vs. Jamaica

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    When and Where to Watch

    9:30 p.m., ESPN2

     

    How They Got Here

    Mexico was typically impressive, winning all six of its matches in the third round of qualifying and cruising to this stage.

    Jamaica shocked many by getting this far in the qualification process, a cause that was aided greatly by their incredible home win over the United States.

     

    Previous Meetings

    In the third round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, Jamaica pulled off one of the shocks of qualification in a 1-0 home victory over Mexico.

    Mexico did pick up an easy 3-0 victory in the Estadio Azteca a month before that, though.

     

    Key Stat

    Mexico hasn't dropped points at home in a World Cup qualifying match since a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica on June 16, 2001.

     

    Odds

    Mexico: 2/9

    Draw: 9/2

    Jamaica: 14/1

     

    Prediction

    Easiest pick one can have.

    Jamaica is the Cinderella of this stage, but will have to look elsewhere to find points toward a shocking World Cup bid.

    Mexico is far too strong at home and should dispose of the Reggae Boyz quite easily.

    Mexico 3, Jamaica 0

     


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