With the European transfer window coming to a ruckus ending, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers are gaining steam heading into its final stages. With only four games remaining for each team within the Hex, a team or two can officially punch their ticket to Russia’s big party.
The U.S. Men’s National Team focus to keep separating itself from playoff contention and into direct qualification as they host Costa Rica. A visiting Honduras side will have little to no room for error against Trinidad and Tobago, while three points for Mexico in Estadio Azteca against Panama seals their reservation for Russia.
Here’s a look at the non-USMNT CONCACAF fixtures this Friday:
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO VS. HONDURAS (8 P.M. ET)
After surrendering two crucial points in Panama in June, Honduras is left with no option but to win in order to stay alive. Los Catrachos are currently only a point behind fourth place Panama, but will have the toughest schedule after Friday’s bout in Couva with matches against Mexico, Costa Rica and the USMNT lined up to conclude their qualification schedule.
For the Soca Warriors, it will take more than a miracle for them to feature in Russia. T&T’s only points throughout the Hex came back in March in their 1-0 victory over Panama. Since, Dennis Lawrence’s men have lost three straight matches and conceited five goals.
MEXICO VS. PANAMA (9:30 P.M. ET, FS2)
El Tri is heading into Friday with optimism to qualify at an all-time high. Juan Carlos Osorio’s and his men are virtually in, but have a special opportunity to officially clinch a spot for the World Cup in front of thousands of its loyal followers at Estadio Azteca. Mexico remains unbeaten throughout the Hex’s first six games, and a victory over Panama puts them as clear-cut leaders at 17 points.
Panama continues to be in control of their own destiny. With four games left, a two-point lead and arguably an easier remaining schedule than Honduras: Los Canaleros have every right to dream of qualifying for the World Cup. For Panama on Friday, anything more than zero points should taste like a victory.