WCQ 2022: Qualifiers for Qatar's Questionable Quagmire

reggiecleveland

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"> They&#39;ve done it! <br><br> Canada reach the men&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#WorldCup</a> for the first time since 1986<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCQ?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#WCQ</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldCup?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#WorldCup</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/CanadaSoccerEN?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">@CanadaSoccerEN</a> <a href="https://t.co/7iiHTZtwxY">pic.twitter.com/7iiHTZtwxY</a></p>&mdash; FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) <a href="View: https://twitter.com/FIFAWorldCup/status/1508201580700618761?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
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DJnVa

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Kind of enjoying the Italy whining about how it shouldn't all come down to one game.

Well, it didn't.
 

Titans Bastard

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Kind of enjoying the Italy whining about how it shouldn't all come down to one game.

Well, it didn't.
European players and fans seem to always forget the bottom half of every qualifying group is rather weak.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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European players and fans seem to always forget the bottom half of every qualifying group is rather weak.
I'm sure this will not be a popular position, but I do think it's slightly unfair that UEFA does not get more spots. It is what it is -- it needs to be a world cup and if you gave them more it would not be great but there are some very worthy World Cup caliber teams in Europe that do not get into the tournament. Also true in South America. But Italy should be in the World Cup. I'm not saying I would have given UEFA more slots. I wouldn't have. I'm just saying that teams in Europe that don't make it do have a legitimate reason to feel like their road was tougher.

You have to earn it and they didn't. Fair and square. The draw at home to Bulgaria was as much their undoing as the loss in the playoff that kept them out.

Europe is playing the best soccer in the world right now. Four out of four of the finalists last world cup -- something like 10 of the 16 knock out teams. You can't turn the world cup into Euro, that's for sure. But Italy, Turkey, one of Poland/Sweden, Czech Republic, Austria, Wales, Scotland. These are World Cup quality sides.

I take no joy in Italy not being in the World Cup. They are not my favorite side by a longshot and I pretty much always root for them to lose in major competitions. As shitty as some of the minnows are in UEFA, there are still fewer slots than really good teams -- more so than in the other confederations. A World Cup without Italy -- like a World Cup without Brazil would be -- is somewhat diminished for me.
 

Silverdude2167

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I'm sure this will not be a popular position, but I do think it's slightly unfair that UEFA does not get more spots. It is what it is -- it needs to be a world cup and if you gave them more it would not be great but there are some very worthy World Cup caliber teams in Europe that do not get into the tournament. Also true in South America. But Italy should be in the World Cup. I'm not saying I would have given UEFA more slots. I wouldn't have. I'm just saying that teams in Europe that don't make it do have a legitimate reason to feel like their road was tougher.

You have to earn it and they didn't. Fair and square. The draw at home to Bulgaria was as much their undoing as the loss in the playoff that kept them out.

Europe is playing the best soccer in the world right now. Four out of four of the finalists last world cup -- something like 10 of the 16 knock out teams. You can't turn the world cup into Euro, that's for sure. But Italy, Turkey, one of Poland/Sweden, Czech Republic, Austria, Wales, Scotland. These are World Cup quality sides.

I take no joy in Italy not being in the World Cup. They are not my favorite side by a longshot and I pretty much always root for them to lose in major competitions. As shitty as some of the minnows are in UEFA, there are still fewer slots than really good teams -- more so than in the other confederations. A World Cup without Italy -- like a World Cup without Brazil would be -- is somewhat diminished for me.
Well they will have more slots in 26 so that will solve the problem, but also while I get your point Italy should try to not lose to North Macedonia. If North Macedonia gets in and not Italy that is not a # of slots problem it's an Italy problem.
 
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Kliq

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Yeah, Italy had their chance and they failed. They lost at home to North Macedonia, is North Macedonia, or Bulgaria, really any better than Costa Rica? Or Egypt? Or any of the teams from other confederations that will squeak into the World Cup? Europe has tremendous depth in the number of countries that have notable players, and they are rewarded by getting more bids than anybody else. But part of what makes qualification interesting is that some good teams with talent are not going to make it, and that can be true across confederations. The US missed it last year and they had talent. One of Senegal/Egypt and one of Algeria/Senegal are going to miss out this year as well, and those are all sides with a lot of talent.
 

SocrManiac

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Did somebody beyond boneheaded Bonnuci whine, or are we generalizing again?

Sticking a microphone in front of him is inadvisable. The guy is a racist prick with a penchant for stupidity. If others are echoing his statements about the 90+2’ thing, then yeah, let’s go all-in. If it’s just him… Let’s cut them some slack and banter about losing to North Macedonia.

My head canon is that Italy took a human rights stand and decided to boycott. That’s my story and I can’t hear your reality over my fantasy.
 

Ale Xander

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The problem isn't enough spots for Europe, it's too many spots for Asia. I'd like to see Asia lose 2 (or perhaps one from Asia and one from Concacaf) , and Africa and South America each gain one.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The problem isn't enough spots for Europe, it's too many spots for Asia. I'd like to see Asia lose 2 (or perhaps one from Asia and one from Concacaf) , and Africa and South America each gain one.
It should be academic after this year. The WC is likely to go from good teams being left out to bad teams getting let in, starting in 2026.
 

Titans Bastard

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Here's one way to look at it. Who is getting out of the group stage?

CONMEBOL is the confederation that gets screwed the most, IMO. Asian teams aren't that successful, but people overrate African teams. They haven't been more successful: 19% of African teams have advanced out of the group stage in the last four tournaments vs. 18% of Asian teams)

UEFA is dominant when the tournament is held in Europe and considerably less so when it's not.

Teams in R16 UEFA CONMEBOL CONCACAF AFC CAF OFC
2018 10 (of 14) 4 (of 5) 1 (of 3) 1 (of 5) 0 (of 5) 0 (of 0)
2014 6 (of 13) 5 (of 6) 3 (of 4) 0 (of 4) 2 (of 5) 0 (of 0)
2010 6 (of 13) 5 (of 5) 2 (of 3) 2 (of 4) 1 (of 6) 0 (of 1)
2006 10 (of 14) 3 (of 4) 1 (of 4) 0 (of 4) 1 (of 5) 1 (of 1) [Australia's last OFC hurrah]
 

thehitcat

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I'm not going to get into the number of slots available because you guys all have a better handle on that, not to mention that in the next cycle it should be less problematic for good teams to get in even in they have a couple of hiccups in qualifying. That said the world cup feels little less special without the reigning champion of Europe and even less special without Italy. Perhaps reigning champs of the federations could get a pass similar to the hosts? I mean I'll end up rooting hardest outside of the US and if Ireland make it for smallest of the minnows hoping for a St. Peter's type run but in my mind the World Cup should include the Italians and the Brazilians and the Germans and probably a few others as well.
 

Kliq

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Zlatan on the bench for Sweden before they kick-off against Poland at 2:45 p.m. Quaison gets the start after coming on as a sub and netting the winner against Czechia, he will up top with Isak as Kulusevski slides back into the midfield. Emil Krafth is fit after being ill for the last game, which helps shore up some weakness at FB.

Sweden gave up some decent chances to Czechia but were bailed out because the Czech forwards couldn't finish. Poland is...unlikely to have that same problem.
 

swiftaw

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Is anyone watching Mane vs Salah, I mean Senegal vs Egypt? There are so many laser pointers being aimed at the Egypt players it’s ridiculous.
 

Kliq

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Emil Forsberg with the early chance is turned away by Szczesny. Good period of pressure here for Sweden.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Could you imagine if there were still a Yugoslavia? They might be favorites to win the World Cup.

Here's one way to look at it. Who is getting out of the group stage?

CONMEBOL is the confederation that gets screwed the most, IMO. Asian teams aren't that successful, but people overrate African teams. They haven't been more successful: 19% of African teams have advanced out of the group stage in the last four tournaments vs. 18% of Asian teams)

UEFA is dominant when the tournament is held in Europe and considerably less so when it's not.

Teams in R16 UEFA CONMEBOL CONCACAF AFC CAF OFC
2018 10 (of 14) 4 (of 5) 1 (of 3) 1 (of 5) 0 (of 5) 0 (of 0)
2014 6 (of 13) 5 (of 6) 3 (of 4) 0 (of 4) 2 (of 5) 0 (of 0)
2010 6 (of 13) 5 (of 5) 2 (of 3) 2 (of 4) 1 (of 6) 0 (of 1)
2006 10 (of 14) 3 (of 4) 1 (of 4) 0 (of 4) 1 (of 5) 1 (of 1) [Australia's last OFC hurrah]
This is a good way to look at it. I can't believe that Socceroos year was 2006.
 

Kliq

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Poland's best chance so far comes from noted Polish player Matty Cash, who scuffs a good shot wide of the net.
 

Kliq

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Clumsy challenge in the box gives Poland a penalty. It was a foul, but a tough one for Sweden because it wasn't exactly a great goal scoring chance in the box. Lewandowski comes to a full stop in his run-up and slots it home.
 

67YAZ

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Ghana over Nigeria is…wow. Ghana were abysmal at AFCON. They looked cooked and the local papers were calling for a massive overhaul before the last qualifiers here. Nigeria didn’t look great at AFCON, but it was their first time out with their interim manager (who is also the FA men’s technical advisor…I suppose Eguavon’s next recommendation will be to have himself fired?).

Cameroon and Morocco both up early.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Sweden have had at least five very good scoring chances against Poland yet find themselves down a goal with 30 minutes to play.

Its going to be unfortunate if it ends this way as Poland looks like a side that has no chance of going anywhere in Qatar whereas Sweden could be pretty frisky.
 

Kliq

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Zlatan coming on for these last 10 minutes to try and perform a miracle. Elanga is also on. Zlatan and Elanga's father were teammates at Malmo before Elanga was born.
 

Kliq

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Sweden out of gas here in these final moments. Playing an extra time burner against Czechia while Poland got to coast in a friendly looks to be making a difference.

Buksa coming on for Poland.
 

Kliq

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Poland are through. Sweden really did this to themselves in qualifying after they netted positive results against Spain, they could have cruised to qualifying success, but lost a game 2-0 to Georgia which put them behind the 8-ball. Would have been a fun team this year with Isak, Kulu, Elanga, and Zlatan. The first three are all young and they are in a good spot going forward.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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So, three more games to determine the last 3 African teams today. Other than that things are pretty close to sorted.

Looks like the last three teams in are likely to be Wales or Ukraine; Costa Rica; and Columbia or Peru. That means that there's a good chance that two very good under-seeded teams are going to end up in Pot 4. The OFC v. CONCACAF winner cannot be drawn into the U.S.'s group so I think that increases the chances that U.S. might have to have Wales, Ukraine, Columbia or Peru as the 4 seed in its group, which could be rough. We'll have to see how it shakes out.

Solomon Islands, New Zealand, UAE, Australia, Scotland and Chile also have an outside chance to be one of the last three in. And of course it's also theoretically possible though very unlikely that the U.S. or Mexico could have to play the playoff.
 

67YAZ

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Morocco pounded the DRC today. The DRC were the biggest underdog in the final round. Would have been amazing and tons of fun if they had pulled it off. But alas…

Tunisia held off Mali with a 0-0 draw, advancing 1-0 on aggregate. Mali really came up this cycle and showed out at AFCON.I hope they can sustain things for another cycle. There’s talent there, but for such a poor, rural country, it’s impossible to predict what resources will be available and if younger talent will get recruited to stronger clubs abroad.

Algeria-Cameroon are into extra time now….
 

PedroSpecialK

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The lasers in the Senegal / Egypt match were beyond ridiculous. Folks standing 3' from security guards, aiming lasers at the Egyptian players... penalties should be replayed at a neutral site, but they won't be

(slightly biased here because of Queiroz)
 

teddykgb

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Is there any summary of Africa qualifying. In my head I know that African regional tournaments are often home to surprise results but it’s really hard to imagine how Nigeria and Egypt could be eliminated in any sane qualification process
 

67YAZ

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Algeria-Cameroon was a wild finish. Algeria scored in the 117th minute to pull ahead…but Cameroon got the decisive away goal in the 124th! Absolutely gutting for Algeria and a massive return to World Cup finals for Cameroon

Is there any summary of Africa qualifying. In my head I know that African regional tournaments are often home to surprise results but it’s really hard to imagine how Nigeria and Egypt could be eliminated in any sane qualification process
First round - teams in the bottom half of the FIFA rankings (27-54) are matched into 2-legged ties. 14 winners advance.

Second round - 14 first round winners and top 26 squads get seeded into 10 groups of 4 based on FIFA rankings home & home round robin play.Ten group winners advance.

Third round - 10 group winners seeded by FIFA ranking go into 2 legged ties for the 5 WC slots.

So you get all the wackiness of the FIFA rankings plus the incredibly varied pitch, stadium, and travel conditions that influence a series of winner-take-all rounds. And this time around, CAF ran AFCON qualifying separate from WC qualifying despite the overlapping timelines.

Hopefully, CAF will use the extra WC slots to create a less taxing structure for 54 nations and also move AFCON back to the summer.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Its crazy to have a system where your fate always comes down to a two-legged tie at the end.

Beginning in 2026, CAF will have 9 slots in the expanded 48 team World Cup (uggh), so in theory they should have some leeway to restructure the system closer to UEFA's model that depends much more heavily on qualifying via a group stage.
 

fletcherpost

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Caveat: It's just in the last couple of years I've been watching more African international football.

Do they get a raw deal with qualification spots? Seems like it to me. I'm a bit gutted that Nigeria won't be going to the World Cup. The Nigeria/Ghana play off matches were strangely muted - i felt the players were knackered. I've been wondering lately if having Afcon every two years is detrimental. Would it be better to have it every 4 years like the Euros? Seems like a lot of football for the African players...but I'm not best informed at this point...just looking from the outside.
 

Senator Donut

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Caveat: It's just in the last couple of years I've been watching more African international football.

Do they get a raw deal with qualification spots? Seems like it to me. I'm a bit gutted that Nigeria won't be going to the World Cup. The Nigeria/Ghana play off matches were strangely muted - i felt the players were knackered. I've been wondering lately if having Afcon every two years is detrimental. Would it be better to have it every 4 years like the Euros? Seems like a lot of football for the African players...but I'm not best informed at this point...just looking from the outside.
Africa's slotting feels just about right. UEFA and Conmebol probably have it harder while AFC and Concacaf get in more teams than they deserve, putting CAF somewhere in the middle.

I would agree with your other point, having AFCON so closely before the end of qualifying definitely overshadowed it, although it was supposed to be held in 2021.
 

67YAZ

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The next 2 AFCONs are scheduled for June-July in Côte d’Ivoire (2023) and Guinea (2025). CAF have suggested they would be revisiting all this after WCQ finished.

I suspect their tournaments will stay as is but the big FAs will push for a UEFA style set up for the next cycle - some kind of nations league plus AFCON 2 years following the WC. The big FAs really want more high level competition in high quality stadiums, but the smaller/poorer FAs don’t want to be shut out completely.

Yesterday was not a great day for African soccer. Egypt has filed a complaint over their bus being stoned & battered and then players being racially harassed and pelted with water bottles in the stadium. Salah getting lit up with laser pointers was also very shitty.

And then Nigerian fans invaded the pitch after their loss, and Ghanaian players had to push and shove their way back to the locker room. It was bedlam.

Last, a Ghanaian friend of mine texted last night and started talking smack about 2010 again. Ghana is pot 4, so I’m hoping the US might draw them and give a 2014 repeat.
 

BaseballJones

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I'm unhappy about my Azzurri not making the World Cup for the second consecutive time. Absolutely mind-boggling. I mean, they're presently #6 in the world FIFA rankings. Easily one of the very best sides on planet Earth. This is very different than the last time, when Italy was actually not very good.

But the reality is, they didn't do what needed to be done to qualify. It just sucks is all. To me it's kind of like how the US T&F Olympic Trials works. You can be the best 200m runner in the world, but if you have a bad race at the Olympic Trials, you aren't even going to the Olympics.

It just sucks that one of the very best teams in the world isn't going to be at the World Cup. And for me, it sucks even more because other than the US, they're my favorite. :mad:
 

swiftaw

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If they were one of the best teams in the world they would’ve either won there qualifying group, or failing that, beaten North Macedonia at home to at least face Portugal. Italy did neither, they don’t deserve to be there.

i have way less sympathy for Italy than a do for the African teams where all winning your group gets you is a 2 legged playoff.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Italy drew four out of their last five group stage matches, including against Northern Ireland and Bulgaria.

Mancini's insistence on sticking with the same group of aging and fairly mediocre attackers did them in. Across those four draws and the North Macedonia match, Italy only scored twice and Belotti, Insigne, Immobile, and Berardi together scored exactly zero.

It was only a friendly and Turkey aren't very good but last night Italy started the young Raspadori, Scamacca, Zaniolo frontline and scored three.
 

SocrManiac

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Italy aren’t one of the best teams without Chiesa.

Italy is far behind the times on player development. England, Germany, France, hell, even Iceland have taken more modern approaches in developing younger talent. Rather than identifying key players and speeding them through the system (as Italy is currently doing), these countries are maintaining larger player pools over longer periods, allowing later bloomers and intelligent players to become available.

The squad is super thin and aging poorly. Mancini extracted everything they had last summer and it papered over the significan cracks
 

BaseballJones

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If they were one of the best teams in the world they would’ve either won there qualifying group, or failing that, beaten North Macedonia at home to at least face Portugal. Italy did neither, they don’t deserve to be there.

i have way less sympathy for Italy than a do for the African teams where all winning your group gets you is a 2 legged playoff.
To be clear: I don't have sympathy for Italy either. They didn't do what they needed to do. I'm just unhappy because this is the second WC in a row and outside the US, they're my favorite.
 

coremiller

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Italy aren’t one of the best teams without Chiesa.

Italy is far behind the times on player development. England, Germany, France, hell, even Iceland have taken more modern approaches in developing younger talent. Rather than identifying key players and speeding them through the system (as Italy is currently doing), these countries are maintaining larger player pools over longer periods, allowing later bloomers and intelligent players to become available.

The squad is super thin and aging poorly. Mancini extracted everything they had last summer and it papered over the significan cracks
Italy also weren't even thaaat good last summer. In the knockouts, they needed extra time to beat Austria and then needed penalties to get past Spain and England. It's not like they were playing everyone off the park.
 

BaseballJones

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Italy also weren't even thaaat good last summer. In the knockouts, they needed extra time to beat Austria and then needed penalties to get past Spain and England. It's not like they were playing everyone off the park.
Often times to win a major tournament you have to either win a close match or win by penalties somewhere along the way. They won the frigging Euro tournament. They were absolutely fantastic.
 

Vinho Tinto

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Italy also weren't even thaaat good last summer. In the knockouts, they needed extra time to beat Austria and then needed penalties to get past Spain and England. It's not like they were playing everyone off the park.
A world record unbeaten run will hide a lot of cracks. And, as BaseballJones mentions, so does winning a major tournament. It’s not as if the road to the title was easy (Austria, Belgium, Spain and Ingerland in the knockout stage).