Monthly Archives: June 2013

2014 World Cup Update: Dispatches from Abroad

After Sunday’s action, we have one more matchday to go this month, and it’ll be a doozy. But first, some stats. 88 teams are still in play for the World Cup Finals and 114 have been eliminated outright. Entering this month, there were 118 teams still in play.

First off, special congratulations to Egypt and Bob Bradley. This entire World Cup cycle has been marred by the violence in the country, and yet they cruised through their group, winning all five of their matches outright and clinching advancement to the next round of CAF’s qualification. The Pharaohs clinched Group G. Elsewhere in Africa, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Algeria clinched their groups. I’ll take a look at the remaining groups as we get closer to September.

One other thing, you see some wacky scorelines sometimes in international football, but this one made me scratch my head.  4-1 based off three penalties, the last coming 8 minutes into added time? Also conveniently Gabon’s goal differential is now zero? And it was at home? Huh.

The last day of the AFC’s 4th Round is Tuesday, and both groups are still in play. In Group A, South Korea, Iran, and Uzbekistan are all fighting for the top two spots. South Korea currently tops the group with 14 points, Iran has 13, and Uzbekistan has 11. South Korea will play Iran and Uzbekistan will play eliminated Qatar. So that’s where it gets interesting. South Korea advances to the World Cup with any win or draw with Iran. There is also a scenario where they can lose and still advance as long as Uzbekistan does not win by at least 6 goals. However, the match is at home for the Koreans, so a win or draw should be achievable. They did lose in Iran 1-0 though.

While South Korea is sitting pretty, but Iran is less secure. With a draw, they can still be tied by Uzbekistan, which is where we start getting into goal differential numbers. They will likely be hoping for Uzbekistan to lose or draw against Qatar, but a) the game is Tashkent b) the Uzbeks already beat Qatar on the road and c) as mentioned above, Qatar is eliminated. If Iran loses to South Korea, that opens the door for Uzbekistan to clinch with a win. If Uzbekistan wins and Iran draws South Korea, then the Uzbeks need to beat Quatar by at least four goals to win the tiebreaker. Whoever winds up in 3rd place will play the 3rd place team from Group. So speaking of which…

Japan has already won Group B and Iraq has been eliminated, leaving Australia (10 points), Oman (9 points), and Jordan (7 points) in play for 2nd and third. The Socceroos cannot finish any worse than third, but they play their final game in Sydney against Iraq, so they will be looking for the clinching win. So let’s talk about Oman and Jordan for a second.

Oman and Jordan play each other, but the match is in Amman. Jordan, is the weaker side here: they are 2-1-4 with a -10 goal differential, while Oman is 2-3-2 with a -2 goal differential. Oman won their first match 2-1. That said, Oman will get at least third place with any win or draw. Jordan must have a win in any scenario to advance. If they do win, then they will place third if Australia wins or draws against Iraq, and will get second if they can make up the 14 points of goal difference between them and Australia if the Aussies lose to Iraq.

If Oman beats Jordan and Australia loses or draws against Iraq, then they will get 2nd place (and, again, advance directly to the World Cup). If they draw and Australia loses, then goal difference comes into play again. There’s 6 point of goal difference between the two sides.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d bet on South Korea, Uzbekistan, and Australia advancing, with Oman and Iran facing off in the 5th Round for the right to place a South American team for a spot in the World Cup.

Both Mexico and Jamaica have Tuesday’s match day off, since that match was moved to June 4th to accommodate Mexico playing in the Confederations Cup. No one is on the hook to be eliminated yet, but Jamaica is already in trouble and Panama could really use at least a draw on the road against Costa Rica.

2014 Wold Cup Update: Selected Scenarios

One resource I’ve relied greatly upon in my World Cup pages is the listing of matchday scenarios on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, Wikipedia editors found this information and decided that no one can have nice things and shut it down. This leaves me in a bit of a lurch, but fortunately at least in some cases we’re far enough along to look at some specific scenarios for the next matchday only.

The top two teams in each group advance directly to the World Cup, while the 3rd place teams have a play-off for the Intercontinental Playoff.
Group A

  • If Iran loses to Lebanon, then South Korea or Uzbekistan can clinch a spot in the World Cup with a win over the other

 Group B

  • Japan has clinched.
  • Iraq will be eliminated if they lose to Japan and Australia or Jordan defeat the other.

Each group winner will advance to the 3rd round, where they will play a home-and-home series against another group winner.
Group A

  •  Ethiopia can clinch a spot in the 3rd Round with a win over South Africa.

Group B

  • Tunisia can clinch a spot in the 3rd Round if Sierra Leone draws with Cape Verde
  • Tunisia can also clinch with a draw and a Sierra Leon loss
  • Tunisia can also clinch with a win over Equatorial Guinea

Group C

  •  Ivory Coast can clinch with a win or draw against Tanzania

Group D

  •  Zambia can clinch with a win over Sudan and a Ghana loss to Lesotho

Group E

  •  Congo can clinch with a win or draw over Burkina Faso

Group F

  •  Nigeria can clinch with a win over Namibia and a Malawi draw or loss to Kenya

Group G

  • Egypt can clinch if Guinea loses or draws with Zimbabwe
  • Egypt can also clinch outright with a win over Mozambique

Group H

  •  Algeria can clinch with a win over Rwanda and if Mali loses or draws with Benin

Group I

  •  Togo will be eliminated if they lose to the Democratic Republic of the Congo or if Libya defeats Cameroon or if Cameroon defeats Libya
  • Congo DR will be eliminated if they lose to to Togo and Libya or Cameroon defeat the other

Group J

  • Liberia will be eliminated if they lose to Senegal


  • Argentina will qualify for the World Cup with a win over Ecuador

2014 World Cup Update: June 4th

World Cup qualifying starts up again this June. So let’s take a quick look around the world to see what happened in February and what’s at stake over the next few weeks.

The AFC Fourth Round will conclude this June. Japan will play Australia with a direct World Cup berth on the line, having failed in their attempt to clinch last March by losing 2-1 to Jordan. Provided Japan wins or draws against the Socceroos, they will be the first team other than Brazil to qualify for the World Cup. The other four teams in the group (Australia, Oman, Iraq, and Jordan) are all within two points of each other, so Group B could come down to the bitter end. Currently, Australia has played only five matches (along with Iraq; everyone else in the group has played 6) so they will have 3 games to get their house in order and qualify directly.

Group A leaders Uzbekistan and South Korea will be unable to clinch directly on the 4th, but with wins they will be able to on the 11th most likely.

Overall, I would say my favorites to make it out of Group A are Uzbekistan and South Korea with the winner of the 4th’s Iran-Qatar match coming in third. In Group B, I like Japan and Australia to top the group with Jordan coming in third.

While as of the next match no one in Africa can clinch advancement to the play-off, the next match could do the trick for most teams. For instance, with two winnable games against Botswana and South Africa, Ethiopia could clinch in June. Tunisia is in a similar position in Group B. In Group C, the Tanzia-Ivory Coast match on the 16th will likely determine the group. Unfortunately in Group D leaders Zambia and Ghana will not meet until September, so we may have to wait unless one of them stumbles in June. Congo has all but clinched Group E, having gone undefeated and unscored upon so far. Group F is far murkier, with no country having more than 1 win, so that may go to the wire. Group G is home to perhaps the best story in international soccer this World Cup cycle, Bob Bradley’s Egypt. They currently lead the group by 5 points and could clinch in June. In Group H, Algeria and Mali are neck-and-neck, as are Cameroon and Libya in Group I. Finally, Group J has no clear leader right now.

So the short version of the Africa story: check back after June 8.

After the March games, the Hexagonal saw no shortage of controversy. The US currently sits in a three-way tie for 2nd, and is currently third in the group based on goal differential. Mexico is currently 5th, having played 3 punchless (scoreless in two) draws.

Mexico gets back into the action on the 4th due to their appearance in the Confederations Cup later this month. The rest of the confederation is back on the 7th. They play Jamaica, which is likely the worst side in the group. If Mexico can’t find their mojo against the Reggae Boyz, then they will be in real trouble against Panama and Costa Rica in their next two matches.

Even with three games per team this month, it’s unlikely anything will be decided until September.

Not much news here. New Zealand clinched back in March. All they get for their trouble, however, is a home-and-home matchup against the 4th place team from CONCACAF.

The closest anyone is coming to really running away with their group so far is Germany in Group C, where they lead their fellow German-speaking brethren from Austria by 8 points.

Each group in UEFA gets to attempt to set their own qualifying schedule (unless they can’t agree). This leads to some situations like in the aforementioned group C where Germany won’t even play at all on either for the FIFA matchdays in June and is off until September. Here are the what are likely to be some of the more interesting matches from Europe:

  • Group A: group leaders Belgium and Croatia won’t play each other directly, but if they win they can eliminate all the other teams in the group.
  • Group B: Italy is undefeated (4-1-0) but only leads the group by 3 points over Bulgaria, unfortunately, they don’t play each other.
  • Group C: Germany is running away with the group, but three countries are tied for second with 8 points each: Austria, Sweden, and Ireland. Austria and Sweden will play each other on the 7th
  • Group D: The Dutch are currently enjoying a 7 point lead over Hungary. This is also likely to be a group where the battle for second is the most interesting part. Unfortunately, this group will play no matches until September.
  • Group E: No one is running away with the group, but at the same time it is not super-interesting either. None of the top teams will play in June.
  • Group F: Russia, Israel, and Portugal are locked in a tight battle for the two spots at the top of the group. Russia and Portugal will play on the 7th.
  • Group G: Bosnia is currently topping the group, but only by 3 over Greece. Nonetheless, it will be a feat for one of the world’s newest international teams to qualify for the World Cup.
  • Group H: Speaking of newly minted countries and their soccer teams, Montenegro is still leading England in this group by 2, thanks in part to their draw back in March. They’re back in action in June, and will attempt to gain some separation against Ukraine.
  • Group I: In the “Spain, France, and Everyone Else” Group, it, well, pretty much is Spain, France, and everyone else. Unfortunately, neither the world champions or the French will be playing in June, with just Finland and Belarus playing each other home-and-home.

 Perhaps after the 7th I’ll do an update. We’ll see! Until then, enjoy the return of international socer!