The third round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying phase is due to begin in a matter of days. Round 3 is structured with three groups with four teams each, each playing 6 games total (home-and-away series), having the top two of each group move on to the final qualifying round.
Group B is composed of Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guyana. Mexico is the hands-on favorite to win the group, and I expect them to do so easily. Guyana did extremely well in Round 2, shocking the CONCACAF region by winning a group everyone thought Trinidad & Tobago would easily win; however, they would shock the entire world if they made it to round 4, which is extremely unlikely. Costa Roca and El Salvador are bitter Central American rivals, and they will fight it out to earn a spot in the Hexagonal.
Mexico’s recent form has been fantastic, having won its last three friendly games against Wales, Bosnia, and Brazil. Chepo de la Torre has done a great job with El Tri, the midfield plays a solid game, the offense is effective, and the whole team can defend while maintaining a high level of organization. In its first two matches, Mexico will easily beat Guyana, and will play a tough game at El Cuscatlan, but will be the eventual winners. I see Mexico beating El Salvador and Guyana twice, getting a tie in Costa Rica, and beating the Ticos at home. However, I wouldn’t be surprise if Mexico wins all of its matches, as their recent form indicates that they are very capable of this.
Trinidad & Tobago had made it to round 3 of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers every time since 1982; however, Guyana made sure the streak ended this year. Guyana played effective soccer, and was able to eliminate Trinidad & Tobago by edging them out with a one point advantage. Unfortunately for Guyana, they landed in a tough group, with three serious World Cup contenders. I don’t see them getting a single point in Group B, and any successes should be wildly celebrated by their fans.
El Salvador made it to round 3 of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying process by winning all matches in Group A of round 2; however, they played weaker teams that never really had a chance of moving any further in the qualification process. El Salvador has a tough challenge, they must beat out Costa Rica for the second place spot in Group B. I’m confident that El Salvador will win both games against Guyana, and will play tough against Mexico,
but will ultimately lose both home and away. Therefore, the matches against Costa Rica will be the deciding factor as to whether they continue on in their quest for a World Cup appearance. If El Salvador can get a win at home and tie at Costa Rica, they will make it to the final qualification round. However, I predict that they will tie at home and lose at Costa Rica; El Salvador will end with 7 points in the third spot of Group B.
Costa Rica will have to win the home-and-away series against El Salvador in order to make it to the next round of the qualifiers. They easily have the talent to take six points from Guyana, and I believe they will tie Mexico at home, but lose in el Estadio Azteca. It all hinges on what they do on June 8, 2012, if they can beat El Salvador at home, I think they will have an excellent starting point that will take them to the next round. I can see Costa Rica winning that pivotal game against El Salvador, and getting a tie in San Salvador; Costa Rica will end with 10 points and a spot in the fourth round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.
Recap: Mexico easily wins the group, Costa Rica will get the second place spot, El Salvador is eliminated, and Guyana would be lucky to steal away one point.