2014 World Cup Update: Assessing the Landscape

It’s time for another survey of the landscape of World Cup qualifying. First, let’s have a look at the map (courtesy Wikipedia):

Since we last left off, we’ve had a whole mess of qualifying. I’ve fully updated the massive table of all the teams, as well as the AFC and CONCACAF pages. New is the massive, poorly drawn-out image that attempts to capture the entire process. I think it provides a good visual idea of why I almost like qualifying as much as the World Cup itself. Since we last talked, 8 teams have been eliminated, so let’s focus on those ten.

Four of the eliminated teams were from the last day of the AFC Third Round. Bahrain had the most interesting day, by which I mean that a lot of folks thought there were some shenanigans as they were awarded two penalties en route to a 10-0 rout of Indonesia, which coincidentally was the number of goals they needed to score to make up their goal differential issues. It ended up not mattering, though, as Iran and Qatar drew 2-2, eliminating Bahrain anyway. Kuwait, meanwhile, failed to beat South Korea and were so eliminated. Saudi Arabia lost 4-2 to Australia and Oman beat Thailand 2-0, settling second place in their group in Oman’s favor and eliminating the Saudis and Thailand.

The other four were at the OFC Nations Cup, which doubled as the OFC’s second round of qualifying. Samoa, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea were all eliminated. Probably the most surprising result from that tournament is that in the playoff rounds New Zealand actually lost to New Caledonia, allowing Tahiti to win the tournament and thus represent the OFC at the 2013 Confederations Cup. The Kiwis will have a shot at revenge when the OFC Third Round begins in September.

So what do we have to look forward to in September? Well, almost everything except for African qualifying. However, at this time no one is poised to be eliminated. In fact, the only confederation whose current round will wrap up this year is CONCACAF, which will have its third round wrapped up by the end of October.

That’s about it for now. Hopefully I’ll have time to update after the action in September but before the games in October.