Believe it or not, but USA-Costa Rica is the only qualifier going on in the entire world on Wednesday. The rest of the action picks up on Saturday.
Let’s start closest to home in Concacaf and then move furthest away to Asia:
El Salvador-Mexico (Telemundo, 9 p.m.) How disparate is Javier Aguirre to get Mexico turned around? So desperate that be brought Blanco back. I guess there’s worse, he could’ve brought Borgetti back. But still, you can’t help thinking that it’s going to take far more than an old-guy-or-two to right the ship. John posted some very interesting quotes from Carlos Vela. These really caught my eye, and John’s as well.
Well, fine. But now that the players appear to be dismissing SGE’s terrible tenure as being purely down to his being foreign, the players would seem to me to be heaping pressure on themselves simply because this group of players has now run two different (and very different) coaches out of town. Failure under Aguirre would represent a complete and total repudiation of this generation of Mexican talent. They’ve had a legendary Mexican firebrand try and lead them. They’ve had a calm European “thinker” (and I use that term very loosely here) try and lead them. They both failed. I suspect many of the stars on this Mexican team are understand this very well and are not about to let their new coach stumble at the first hurdle. Prediction: 3-1 Mexico.
Trinidad and Tobago v. Costa Rica. The more I’ve seen and read about CR, the more I am impressed with them. I feel exactly the opposite about Trinidad. Prediction: 2-0 Ticos.
Let’s move on to the rest of the live televised matches over the weekend.
DPR Korea v. Iran (FSC, 4 a.m. Sat) Things are starting to round down in Asia where:
- North Korea will ensure (at worst) qualification to the AFC play-off if they beat Iran
- South Korea will ensure (at worst) qualification to the AFC play-off if they beat the United Arab Emirates
- Iran will be able to advance only to the AFC play-off if:
- they lose to North Korea; AND
- United Arab Emirates fail to beat South Korea.
Qatar v. Australia (FSC, noon, Sat) Things are pretty much done and dusted here and group B where an Aussie tie or win ensures qualification to South Africa. Meanwhile, if Japan wins away in Uzbekistan, they too can qualify for South Africa. But keep in mind that Japan could only draw with the Uzbeks in Saitama, so a surprise could still happen.
I’ll have more on the European qualifiers later on.