Rather than trying to make sense of what’s going on with the US National Team right now, let’s just talk about the scenarios in Asia.
Currently, the following five teams have qualified: Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Thailand. This leaves seven spots available. Let’s get to it.
This is Saudi Arabia’s group, and they already qualified (they’ll either top the group or finish with more points than any of the other runners up can get). The United Arab Emirates are still in play, and we’ll talk about the runners-up later. However, the group is still not clinched.
- The United Arab Emirates will win the group if they defeat Saudi Arabia by more than two goals.
- Saudi Arabia will win the group in all other scenarios.
Australia currently leads the group with 18 points, but Jordan remains right on the Socceroos’s heels with 16 points. They play each other in Sydney on Tuesday. Here’s the deal.
- Australia will win the group with a win or draw.
- Jordan will win the group with a win.
Qatar is winning the group by 7 points, so no drama here.
Iran currently leads the group with 17 points, while Oman trails with 14 points. They’ll meet in Tehran on Tuesday facing the following scenarios:
- Iran clinches with any win, draw, or non-absurd loss.
- Oman clinches the group with a win by at least 8 goals.
Japan is assured of advancement, but they haven’t yet clinched the group. They have 19 points to Syria’s 18 and meet in Saitama on Tuesday.
- Japan clinches the group with any win or draw.
- Syria clinches the group with a win.
This group is interesting, but mostly because of its runners-up. Thailand has clinched the group with 14 points. but Iraq currently has 9 and Vietnam has 7. More on that below.
Korea Republic has run away with the group, and Kuwait is still in FIFA limbo, but regardless their prospects look dim.
Uzbekistan has 18 points, and Korea DPR has 16 points, and unlike most of the other groups, they don’t play each other Tuesday.
- Uzbekistan clinches with any win over Bahrain.
- Uzbekistan clinches with any Korea DPR loss to the Philippines.
- Korea DPR clinches with any win over the Philippines and any Uzbekistan loss.
- Korea DPR can clinch with if Uzbekistan draws Bahrain if they beat the Philippines by at least 5 goals. (Note: if by 5 goals, then the “goals scored in matches between tied teams tiebreaker” applies, otherwise overall goal difference applies.)
The top four runners-up from the groups will also advance. Points won against the last place teams in their respective groups do not count. It’d be too time-consuming to enumerate all the scenarios, but here’s the prospects for this pool of teams.
- If Syria draws Japan, then they’ll finish with 13 points and advance.
- Currently, the UAE, Jordan, and Korea DPR all have 10 points for this purpose. If they win, they’re in: no one from behind them can catch them. Of course, if Jordan wins, they win their group anyway, but still.
- Things get interesting if anyone in the above group loses and either Iraq, Vietnam, China PR, Oman, or Kuwait win. (Of course Kuwait won’t play Tuesday and will probably wind up forfeiting, but still.) Of this group, Iraq probably has the best chance: they could even advance with a draw with Vietnam and a Korea DPR loss thanks to their goal differential.
- If Australia loses to Jordan, they’ll have 12 points for this purpose, which I would say is likely to be good enough, but it’s not guaranteed.
- In the unlikely scenario they lose the group, Uzbekistan is probably still okay with their 12 points as well.
Meanwhile, in CONCACAF:
- Mexico can clinch Group A with a win over Canada.
That’s about it, I’d say. We’ll be back to talk shop when the OFC resumes in May.