Monday, July 13, 2009

Looking Ahead to World Cup Qualifying 2011

As a supporter of Canada, it is disappointing that we are already eliminated from the World Cup that is due to take place in less than a year in South Africa. But it is never to early to look ahead to 2014 in Brazil right? Which is exactly what I have done. Looking at the way that qualifying took place the last time around, I spent most of my weekend figuring out FIFA qualifying and ranking systems, to determine where Canada (and all other CONCACAF countries) stand in relation to Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. So here goes:

You may recall that the World Cup Qualifying Draw was made BEFORE the Gold Cup in 2007. My planning was based upon this being the same next time around which means that the WCQ Draw will happen some time in May 2011. FIFA rankings take into account the last four years of a teams results. There is no penalty for losing, you gain points through wins & draws. A team can lose points over time as the ranking system values results differently. So the Current year is rated at 100%, last year at 50%, two years ago at 30%, and three years ago at 20%. So a team will appear to have lost points if a strong result crosses the threshold. I have skipped this by adjusting the values as if the date was May 2011, using the following dates. June 07 - May 08 20%, June 08 - May 09 30%, June 09 - May 10 50%, and June 10 - May 11 100%. We are already in the third phase for points that count towards are position in May 2011. So without further delay here are the current standings:

May 2011 Ranking Country Points for May 2011 Gap behind next Current CONCACAF Ranking
1 United States of America 6969.28 0 1
2 Mexico 4933.1705 2036.1095 3
3 Costa Rica 4669.233 263.9375 2
4 Honduras 4546.451 122.782 4
5 El Salvador 3419.134 1127.317 10
6 Jamaica 2600.405 818.729 5
7 Trinidad & Tobago 2557.7775 42.6275 7
8 Canada 2437.255 120.5225 11
9 Panama 1949.369 487.886 6
10 Haiti 1437.871 511.498 16
11 Guatemala 1120.88 316.991 14
12 Cuba 1119.918 0.962 8
13 Grenada 1118.388 1.53 9
14 Antigua & Barbuda 918.595 199.793 12
15 Suriname 768.825 149.77 15
16 Barbados 735.335 33.49 13
17 Bermuda 479.3575 255.9775 21
18 Guyana 392.36 86.9975 17
19 Netherlands Antilles 360.06 32.3 19
20 Nicaragua 263.2875 96.7725 18
21 St. Kitts & Nevis 230.095 33.1925 20
22 Puerto Rico 221.2125 8.8825 23
23 Belize 116.875 104.3375 25
24 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 107.695 9.18 22
25 Cayman Islands 65.875 41.82 24
26 Turks & Caicos 63.75 2.125 27
27 British Virgin Islands 59.5 4.25 30
28 Bahamas 42.5 17 26
29 Aruba 32.5125 9.9875 31
30 Dominica 24.65 7.8625 32
31 St. Lucia 21.25 3.4 29
31 Dominican Republic 21.25 0 28
33 US Virgin Islands 17 4.25 33
34 Montserrat 0 17 35
34 Anguilla 0 0 34

Teams 1 - 6 are the top seeds and are placed in the draw for Stage 2 of Qualifying in such away that they will be the top two teams in the three groups that form Stage 3.

Teams 7 - 12 are also given a bye to Stage 2, but they could end up with any of the top seeds (This is where Canada was last time around)

Teams 13 - 35 are placed in Stage 1, with one team randomly getting a bye to Stage 2.

Stages 1 & 2 are a playoff format - with only one team advancing. Stage 3 is three groups with four teams with the top two teams advancing to Stage 4, or "The Hex".

The Hex is where 6 teams fight it out for 3.5 places in the World Cup (The .5 is a playoff against a 5th place South American team).

For Canada to have the best chance possible at reaching The Hex, we should try to ensure that we are in the top 6 teams by May of 2011. As you can see we are currently sitting in 8th. In case you were wondering these stats are current, including the group stages of the Gold Cup. Should Canada manage a quarterfinal victory against Honduras we will gain 615.825 points (410.55 if we win in overtime or shootout) towards our May 2011 totals. Which would see us break into the top six. Getting results in the Gold Cup is very important for Canada as it is our only chance to accumulate big points before the World Cup Draw is made in 2011. Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. A friendly match has a multiplier of 1, A Gold Cup Qualifier or World Cup Qualifier 2.5, Gold Cup or Confederation's Cup 3, and World Cup 4. So if Canada beat Honduras next week in a friendly we would get 205.275 points towards 2011.
If Canada beat Honduras next week in WCQ we would get 513.1875 points towards 2011.
If Canada beat Honduras next week in the Gold Cup we would get 615.825 points towards 2011.
And If Canada beat Honduras next week in the World Cup we would get 821.1 points towards 2011.

Any CONCACAF country that makes the World Cup will get a big bonus for any results they get there. As will any team still in the Gold Cup (except for Guadelope who are not a country or member of FIFA, incidentally teams do NOT get points for beating them either). The six sides still competing in The Hex will also get a chance to boost their numbers with inflated multipliers. The Central American teams & Caribbean teams will get an advantage of playing in Gold Cup qualifiers before May 2011. Canada, USA, & Mexico get automatic places in the Gold Cup and thus do not get the opportunity to get points from qualifying matches.

So what can we do to make sure that we are in a great spot in May 2011? Simple win the Gold Cup, beating Honduras, USA, & Mexico ideally, but even that won't guarantee us a top six finish. WE NEED TO PLAY FRIENDLIES, LOTS AND LOTS OF FRIENDLIES! I was surprised to see the sheer number of matches that Trinidad & Tobago play, which is why even though we won our group in the Gold Cup, and they failed to qualify they are still ahead of us. Jack Warner knows how the system works and is certainly using it, and so should we! With the new rules that make virtually no difference between the U21 side and playing in a friendly. I would like to see Canada field teams (not necessarily our A team, perhaps the U21 team) in senior friendlies against any opposition we can find. There are certainly some teams where we could get more points, such as European or South American opponents as European teams give a multiplier of 1.00, while CONMEBOL gives 0.98 compared to 0.85 for CONCACAF and everyone else. But the main thing is that we need to play matches. Take the team on a Caribbean tour, play St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Aruba... and rack up points along the way. We could be sneaky about it and play teams when they are at their weakest for example play Bolivia at sea level, play a country with one star when that star is injured, or our tried and tested strategy of playing anyone in November in Edmonton.

Canada really needs to take advantage of the fact that we can field a squad of North American based players, and these players are off from November to March. Canada needs to go on a tour and play a lot of matches in that time. If we don't play a lot of friendlies then we won't be able to grab a place in the top six, which means we run the risk of ending up in a group like we did last time around, which is something nobody wants to happen which is why I am sounding the alarm now.

I will keep updating the list. I will post the updated at the conclusion of the Gold Cup.

8 comments:

beverino said...

Good article, thanks for the calculations. Playing more games has so many advantages, hopefully we'll show the coommitment to take advantage of them next round.

Michael said...

Kevin, great write-up. Do you know how the financial situation of Canada Soccer Association looks like? Maybe there's no money in the budget for friendlies?

Joe Soccer Fan said...

Definitely not much money in the coffers for friendlies. They should still be able to afford a few home friendlies per year, plus a few on the road (the home team usually pays for most expenses).

At best, you have to assume that the friendlies will be net zero compared to our peers, so the Gold Cup is really our best shot.

Pompey Canuck said...

If we are lacking the funds for friendlies. Then we are in some trouble, If we manage to win the Gold Cup, that should help a lot as we could land a lot of away friendlies as the CONCACAF Champions. The only other option that I can see is looking at who the US or Mexico is playing a friendly against and invite them to add a match against US to their itinerary. Part of it as well will be playing less glamourous friendlies, no more matches against Brasil unless they foot the bill. I hope that we can find the money to get a few matches in boost our ranking and attract more friendly offers.

Edgar said...

Interesting article, Pompey Canuck.

However, there are a couple of mistakes, as pointed out in this post:

2014 FIFA World Cup seeding for CONCACAF teams (July 17th)

Pompey Canuck said...

Thanks Edgar. I have indeed made a few errors in the post, at the end of the Gold Cup I hope to publish "Looking ahead to World Cup Qualifying 2011 version 2.0" which will contain the correct information. The main point that Edgar pointed out is that we shouldn't play a lot of friendlies against bad teams, so hopefully version 2.0 will present a plan that the CSA could use to ensure that Canada is well placed in May 2011.

Edgar said...

You're welcome, Kevin.

I did send such a plan to the CSA in October 2008, as you can see in this post:

Canada set FIFA ranking target.

They were not interested.

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