Qatar World Cup 2022: Who is looking good for qualification and who is in trouble?

Qatar World Cup 2022: Who is looking good for qualification and who is in trouble?

by Emily Smith
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Luis Suarez has scored in each of Uruguay’s last two wins to boost their qualification chancesThe World Cup in Qatar is now only nine months away – but there is still plenty to decide before the tournament kicks off.

Fifteen teams have already secured their spot in the tournament that starts on 21 November, but that means there are still 17 places up for grabs and some notable nations are struggling to make it.

To make sure the World Cup qualifying process can finish this summer, Fifa created an extra international window at the end of January into February.

So, while European clubs were afforded a winter break with their qualification up to date, it was a key couple of weeks for those in South America, Asia and the Concacaf region, which features sides from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

BBC Sport takes a look at how qualification is panning out.

Uruguay back on track but Colombia in trouble – South AmericaUruguay entered the international window seventh in South American qualifying after four consecutive defeats and in real danger of missing out on Qatar.

The two-time World Cup winners have responded with back-to-back victories over Paraguay and Venezuela.

They are now fourth in the table with two crucial matches in March remaining as they face Peru, who are just one point behind them in fifth, followed by Chile, who are two points further back in sixth.

The top four South American nations qualify directly, while the fifth-placed side can advance via inter-continental play-offs featuring three other nations from Asia, Concacaf and Oceania. Brazil and Argentina are already through.

In contrast to Uruguay, Colombia are now in dire trouble after defeats by Peru and Argentina dropped them from fourth to seventh, five points off Uruguay.

Colombia, who have qualified for the past two World Cups, face Bolivia and Venezuela in their remaining games.

Paraguay and Venezuela have been eliminated from contention, while eighth-placed Bolivia can now only reach the inter-continental play-off spot at best.

Brazil (Q)152739Argentina (Q)151635Ecuador161025Uruguay16-322Peru16-421Chile16-119Colombia16-317Bolivia16-1215Paraguay (E)16-1413Venezuela (E)16-1610The end of a long wait? – ConcacafCanada have taken a huge step towards making their first World Cup finals since their only appearance in 1986 thanks to three wins in six days.

After a 2-0 win over Honduras, they beat the USA by the same margin on Sunday and then beat El Salvador by the same scoreline on Wednesday.

Canada, managed by English coach John Herdman, sit four points clear at the top of the qualifying group with three games remaining.

The USA, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, edged closer to a place in Qatar with a 3-0 win over Honduras that leaves them second.

The staging of the game prompted criticism after it was played out in temperatures as low as -16C in Minnesota.

Three teams will qualify automatically with a fourth entering a play-off against the winner of the Oceania play-off.

A Raul Jimenez penalty was key in Mexico’s 1-0 win over Panama and they sit third – level on points with the USA – while Costa Rica closed the gap to Panama with a 1-0 win in Jamaica.

Canada111425USA11921Mexico11621Panama11117Costa Rica11116El Salvador11-79Jamaica11-77Honduras (E)11-173Salah v Mane for one place – AfricaWest African rivals Nigeria and Ghana will play each other for a place at the World Cup in arguably the pick of a number of tantalising ties following the draw to decide Africa’s five places in Qatar.

Elsewhere Sadio Mane’s Senegal will play Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, while the only team in the draw to have never been at a World Cup, Mali, face Tunisia. The matches will take place at the end of March.

Full draw: Egypt v Senegal, Cameroon v Algeria, Ghana v Nigeria, DR Congo v Morocco, Mali v Tunisia

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will go head-to-head for a place in the World Cup when Senegal face EgyptAustralia slip up again – AsiaAustralia have qualified for the past four World Cups but, lying third in Group B with only two games remaining, face a tough challenge to reach Qatar 2022.

The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the World Cup, with the two third-placed sides playing off for a place in the intercontinental play-off against the fifth-placed side in South America for a spot at the finals.

The Socceroos twice surrendered the lead as they were held 2-2 by Oman on Tuesday and are now three points off Japan in second, with leaders Saudi Arabia a point further ahead.

Australia can still overhaul their rivals as they face Japan and Saudi Arabia in March, but will need a marked improvement in form.

Iran and South Korea have both secured qualification for the finals from Group A.

Leaders Iran qualified with victory over Iraq on 27 January, while South Korea beat Syria on Tuesday to reach their 10th successive World Cup.

TeamPlayedGoal differencePointsIran (Q)81122South Korea (Q)8920United Arab Emirates809Lebanon8-36Iraq8-75Syria (E)8-102TeamPlayedGoal differencePointsSaudi Arabia8519Japan8618Australia8915Oman (E)8-28China (E)8-85Vietnam (E)8-103All to play for – OceaniaOceania will stage a nine-team tournament in Qatar in March to decide which team advances to the inter-continental play-off for a spot at the World Cup finals.

The winner of the 14-30 March competition will face the fourth-placed team from the Concacaf region.

New Zealand were the last country from the region to qualify for the World Cup when they played in 2010. They missed out on a place in Russia in 2018 after losing to Peru in a play-off.

An exit for the European champions? – EuropeThere is still plenty to play for in Europe with the likes of Italy, Portugal, Wales and Scotland all facing play-off semi-finals in March.

There will be at least one big casualty with Italy and Portugal due to meet in one of the finals – if they both get past their semi-finals.

Already qualified: Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland, Netherlands.

Play-offs: Semi-final draw

Scotland v Ukraine, Wales v Austria, Russia v Poland, Sweden v Czech Republic, Portugal v Turkey, Italy v North Macedonia

Final draw

Wales or Austria v Scotland or Ukraine, Russia or Poland v Sweden or Czech Republic, Portugal or Turkey v Italy or North Macedonia

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