Running the Qualification Numbers

So the tortured process of the march to the Hexagonal repeats this time around in CONCACAF qualifying. Assuming the favorites advance past their elimination games to reach the semifinal group stage, the groups would look like what you see at the right.

I've added a couple of columns showing the nations' worldwide and confederation-wide status according to FIFA's sponsored (but of course) rankings. Not that I place much faith in the ranking system, but it has to be taken into consideration when the group draws are made, thus it merits inclusion.

Hmmm, at first blush it looks like Mexico kicked Jack Warner's dog or something. Talk about unbalanced groups. Groups A and C are pretty much equivalent, with the US matched up against what I'd label three "third tier" sides. Group C features somewhat past their best Costa Rica and up-and-comers Panama and Haiti. But Mexico gets a swift boot to the groin with the inarguable group of death. Honduras and Canada are both solid "second tier" sides, while Jamaica is a talented, if underachieving side, that is capable of pulling a surprise or two out of their Rasta wigs.

According to Fullback's arbitrary "layers of a wedding cake" analysis of the CONCACAF power structure, the groups pan out as follows.
  1. Group A: one first tier + three third tier = 10 tier points
  2. Group B: one first tier + two second tier + one third tier = 8 tier points
  3. Group C: two second tier + one third tier + one fourth tier = 11 tier points
So who rides on to the Hexagonal? First-order analysis indicates . . .
  1. Group A: US, Guatemala (assuming T&T doesn't get its act together and Cuba can hold on to potential defectors)
  2. Group B: Mexico, Honduras (assuming the Hondurans keep their heads and don't lose half their side to suspension in games against Mexico, thus exposing a soft underbelly to the dangerous claws of Canada and Jamaica)
  3. Group C: Costa Rica, Panama (Guyana? whither the faded Salvadorans?)
That's boringly similar to four years ago, so here's hoping for a few surprises. Unfortunately, the cream on top of CONCACAF doesn't look particularly threatened.

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