Even with the globe turned upside down by ‘an invisible enemy’, mankind can still bank on the near certainty of death, taxes, Nicki Minaj saying something stupid on social media… and Mexico qualifying for the Fifa World Cup.
It has been 40 years since ‘El Tricolor’ failed to successfully navigate the Concacaf World Cup qualifying series. Or to put it another way, the last time that Mexico failed to get to the finals, Superman was straight, Luke Skywalker did not know who his father was, and an afro-sporting Michael Jackson was two years away from his first ‘moonwalk’.
Three points clear atop the Octagonal table, Mexico remained unbeaten in the October international match window with wins over Honduras and El Salvador and a draw against Canada at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Their 2-0 win away to El Salvador yesterday summed up El Tricolor, as they went ahead in the first half through Héctor Moreno but still needed a 94th minute penalty from Raúl Jiménez to put the game to bed.
Tackling Mexico these days is about as much fun as wrestling in quicksand.
United States are on their heels with 11 points in total and six in this match window with Canada third with 10 and five respectively.
Two points separate third-placed Canada and fourth-placed Panama, who ought to explain how they managed to beat USA yet lose to El Salvador and be thumped by Canada within seven days. Surely the most convincing schizophrenic performance since James McAvoy in Split!
But, in more relevant news for Caribbean football fans, there were finally signs of life from Jamaica who mustered the first win of their campaign with a 2-0 triumph away to Honduras.
The result moved Jamaica to sixth in the eight-team standings, just three points shy of Panama—after the ‘Reggae Boyz’ tallied four of their five points thus far in the October window.
Coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore earned his reprieve. Only the United States used more than the 23 different starting players fielded by Jamaica in just six group matches, and there might have been a loud sucking noise when the coach replaced his most gifted attacker, Shamar Nicholson, with LA Galaxy right-back Oniel Fisher for the closing 13 minutes.
Fisher has scored one goal in 93 games as a professional player, and none at all in 11 years as a Jamaica international footballer at youth and senior level. ‘Tappa’ was looking to park the bus, right?
Presumably, the Boyz coach was still trying to parallel park when Fisher stepped in off the left flank and scored a spanking drive into the far corner that Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud to claim.
‘Talk nah, Viv!’
Jamaica’s resurgence, by the way, came without a certain giant West Ham forward Michail Antonio, who gave the three games a miss after the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) failed to arrange for the striker’s personal physio to travel with him from England at short notice.
Because what does Jamaica, the sprint capital of the world for much of this millennium, know about treating dodgy hamstrings, right, Antonio?
All the same, Kemar Roofe, Andre Gray and Jamal Lowe, for all their huffing and puffing, look about as sharp in the opposing box as a butter knife—Roofe’s solitary item against Honduras notwithstanding.
If the Boyz want to visit Qatar next year, someone is going to have to rub Antonio’s back… and massage his hamstrings.
Concacaf World Cup qualifying results
(7 October 2021)
USA 2 (Ricardo Pepi 49, 62), Jamaica 0 at Q2 Stadium, Austin;
Honduras 0, Costa Rica 0 at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula;
Mexico 1 (Jorge Sanchez 21), Canada 1 (Jonathan Osorio 42) at Azteca Stadium, Mexico City;
El Salvador 1 (Enrico Dueñas 37), Panama 0 at Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador.
(10 October 2021)
Jamaica 0, Canada 0 at Independence Park, Kingston;
Costa Rica 2 (Bryan Ruiz 52, Celso Borges 58 pen), El Salvador 1 (Jairo Henriquez 12) at Estadio Nacional, San José;
Panama 1 (Anibal Godoy 54), USA 0 at Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City;
Mexico 3 (Sebastían Córdova 18, Rogelio Funes Mori 76, Hirving Lozano 86), Honduras 0 at Azteca Stadium, Mexico City.
(13 October 2021)
USA 2 (Sergiño Dest 25, Leonel Moreira 66 OG), Costa Rica 1 (Keysher Fuller 1) at LowerCom Field, Columbus;
Canada 4 (Michael Murillo 28 OG, Alphonso Davies 66, Tajon Buchanan 71, Jonathan David 78), Panama 1 (Rolando Blackburn 5) at BMO Field, Toronto;
Honduras 0, Jamaica 2 (Kemar Roofe 38, Oneil Fisher 80) at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula;
El Salvador 0, Mexico 2 (Héctor Moreno 30, Raúl Jiménez 90+3 pen) at Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador.