Winners and Losers from World Cup Qualifying
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the recent UEFA, CONMEBOL, CAF and CONCACAF FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.
There were plenty of story angles; however, this slideshow will only include one winner and loser from the aforementioned zones.
Please comment below with your opinions.
(Asian Football Confederation finished its regional qualifying a month ago, and Oceania Football Confederation finished its regional qualifying in March. Both were not included in this slideshow.)
WINNER: Bosnia and Herzegovina
It's fitting that the nation's greatest player, Safet Susic, has led Bosnia and Herzegovina to their first-ever World Cup as their manager.
Vedad Ibisevic's winner against Lithuania will go a long a way in alleviating the heartache from the 2010 World Cup qualification play-off loss to Portugal.
The triumvirate of Edin Dzeko, Ibisevic and Zvjezdan Misimovic was instrumental in Bosnia averaging three goals per game.
Misimovic, who's gone to Chinese Super League club Guizhou Renhe for easy money, is a world-class passer and would be a great addition for a struggling Premier League club.
LOSER: Germany's Defending
This year, Joachim Loew's Germany have conceded four goals against the United States and three each against Paraguay and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-less Sweden.
Germany's 5-3 win over the Swedes was a demonstration from both teams in how not to defend.
The German defence were as disjointed and unorganised when they relinquished a 4-0 lead to the same team last year.
Meanwhile, Per Nilsson and Mikael Antonsson were terrible at the back for Sweden as both players gifted Germany goals.
Loew is so hell-bent on Germany playing frenzied attacking football that his team are left vulnerable at the back.
WINNER: Colombia Are Back
Colombia are so loaded that Jackson Martinez, who scored 34 goals for Porto last season, can't even get a regular start in Jose Pekerman's team.
Colombia have been resolute at the back in conceding the least goals in the CONMEBOL zone. With a win at Paraguay and a thrilling, come-from-behind draw at home to Chile in their final two qualifiers, Pekerman's side finished second in CONMEBOL, two points behind Argentina.
The painful memories of 1994, infamously known for the murder of Andres Escobar, could be banished to the archives if Colombia makes a deep run at the World Cup.
LOSER: Venezuelan Regret
With wins over Argentina and Colombia, Venezuela will rue not being in Uruguay's position in facing Jordan in a play-off to qualify for the World Cup. Instead, Cesar Farias' team finished qualifying with 20 points, five behind Uruguay for the play-off spot.
A return of one point from nine from June to September proved costly. Following a draw in Bolivia on June 7, Venezuela lost 1-0 at home to Uruguay four days later. Then, on Sept. 6, they lost 3-0 at Chile. A win at Peru provided a glimmer of hope, but that hope faded with last week's draw at home to Paraguay.
Venezuela heavily leaned on Juan Arango and Salomon Rondon to score or create goals out of nothing. Neither is in the class of Luis Suarez let alone Lionel Messi, which is part of the reason why Venezuela registered the fewest goals in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.
WINNER: Michael Essien Pivotal in Big Ghana Victory
Latching onto Andre Ayew's pass, Essien danced his way past Mohamed Naguib, Hossam Ghaly and Sherif Ekramy before Wael Gomaa deflected the Chelsea man's tame shot into the net.
It was one of Ghana's six goals against Egypt in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.
The positive for Essien is that this was the type of game he needed not only for Ghana, but to also force a way into Chelsea's starting XI.
LOSER: Bob Bradley's Hard Work Undone
Egypt is at a severe disadvantage, as the last two domestic seasons have prematurely ended due to the socio-political climate of the country.
From that perspective, manager Bob Bradley has made the best of a bad situation.
Losing is one thing, but to get humiliated 6-1 by Ghana in the first leg of a World Cup play-off could lead to Bradley's sacking.
However, Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl tweeted that Bradly said in an email: "At the moment I'm still the [Egypt] coach. If it's up to me I will stand with the team for the 2nd leg."
WINNER: Mexico a Lucky Loser
"We will be facing a sick and shattered team," said Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto when asked about Mexico's problems before their match, via Rafael Ramos at ESPN FC.
Pinto was right, as Costa Rica won 2-1.
However, Mexico will have a chance to qualify for the World Cup if they can overcome New Zealand in a qualification play-off.
It would have been Panama vs. New Zealand if not for the United States (Mexico's rivals) scoring two late goals to give Mexico a reprieve.
Javier Hernandez, who had a frustrating game, will miss the first leg against New Zealand due to suspension for multiple yellow cards, though Bleacher Report's Joseph Zucker argues that El Tri might benefit from not having the superstar for a match.
LOSER: Panamanian Football
Aron Johannsson and Graham Zusi will be barred from entering Panama for ruining the country's football.
In all seriousness, Panama's tragic downfall is reminiscent of Australia caving in to Iran at home during the AFC-OFC play-off for the 1998 World Cup.
Going into stoppage time, Panama's footballers were probably thinking "no mas" (no more).
If only the referee agreed.
With Panama holding a late 2-1 lead against the United States on Tuesday night in their crucial CONCACAF qualifier, Zusi equalised and Johannsson scored the winner to give the U.S. a stunning 3-2 victory.
Had Panama won, Julio Dely Valdes' side would be the team facing New Zealand in the intercontinental play-off. Instead, Mexico enjoyed a fortunate reprieve.
Terrence Boyd embracing Panama's Felipe Baloy at the end of the game was a heartfelt moment.
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