Examining Canada’s Path To Qualify For The 2018 World Cup

World Cup

The road to the World Cup 2018 in Russia will begin in June when the Canadian national team kicks off its qualification campaign. It won’t be a quick process either as the team embarks on a 33-month long qualification tournament that will ultimately decide which nations from the CONCACAF region will be represented on soccer’s biggest stage.

The full schedule has yet to be determined but what is clear is that Canada’s long road will begin against one of the weaker teams from the region. How far they go from there will depend on the success they have throughout the early stages of qualifying. 35 countries from North and Central America as well as the Caribbean will compete for a chance to go to the World Cup in 2018 and the process of getting that number down to three locks will begin soon.

Canada Enters In The Second Round

Canada’s first game of the CONCACAF qualification for the World Cup will be against either the British Virgin Islands or Dominica later this year. Those two teams were paired together in the preliminary draw in Miami earlier this month as part of a group that involved the teams ranked between No. 22 and No. 35 in the region.

There are 14 teams in this group broken up into seven matchups and the winners of those matches will advance to the second round, which brings Canada, as well as the other teams seeded between No. 9 and No. 21 in the region, into the mix. Canada currently ranks 112th in the world and falls in to that next round of teams that will be introduced to qualifying.

First Contests Should Be Easy

Canada will open the qualification process by playing either Dominica or the British Virgin Islands but neither team is considered a very tough opponent. Dominica currently ranks 184th in the world while the British Virgin Islands ranks 202nd. The winner of that initial match up will meet Canada in a home-and-home series this June that will determine which team moves on to the third round. Canada will play the first leg of that second round series at home before traveling to its opponent country to finish it off.

To be fair, if Canada can’t take care of business in this spot, they will not be deserving of a spot in the World Cup. They are trying to prove that they are a team that’s slowly improving but if they can’t be teams ranked in the hundreds, then they will have no reason to belong in a tournament of the best 32.

Third Round Will Be The Key

As long as Canada advances to the third round they will then take part in the qualification stages that will take place in August and September. There can be no assumptions made as Canada had a relatively easy opportunity to move on in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup when they were put in a group with Honduras, Panama, and Cuba. Even so, they couldn’t get out of that group.

This time around, they’ll have to go through the likes of Jamaica and Haiti, who are ranked seventh and eighth respectively in the CONCACAF region. Those two – along with 10 second-round winners – will face off in another series of home-and-away games that will determine the final six teams that get to join the top-six in the region, and be inserted in to the next qualification pool.


A Team On The Rise?

It will be interesting to see how Canada stacks up as they continue to talk about their squad as one that’s on the rise. We see some evidence with players like Dwayne De Rosario, Atiba Hutchinson and Will Johnson leading the way. And in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, a Canadian (Cyle Larin) was drafted first overall for the first time ever. But in mid-January, Canada lost to Iceland 2-1 and then labored for a 1-1 draw in their home-and-home series. Struggling against sides like that doesn’t seem to back all the talk that they’re getting better.

We’ll know more as qualification starts off but if the Canadians come anywhere near making the 2018 World Cup, that should be viewed as a success.

Written by Geoff Harvey

Geoff Harvey has been creating odds and betting models since his days in the womb, just don't ask him how he used to get his injury reports back then. Harvey contributes a wealth of quality and informational content that is a valuable resource for any handicapper.

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