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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Preview: Mexico hosts Canada, Costa Rica visits Honduras, and more


Concacaf World Cup Qualifying resumes this week with several teams looking to grab their first victories of the octagonal round.

Mexico squares off with Canada on Thursday night from Estadio Azteca, looking to extend its unbeaten start with three points against John Herdman’s squad. It will be the first head-to-head meeting since the Gold Cup semifinal in July, one that El Tri won 2-1 thanks to a late stoppage-time winner from Hector Herrera.

A pair of winless sides meet in San Pedro Sula as Costa Rica visits Honduras in the second match of the night. Honduras has two points to its name so far in qualifying, and was handed a first defeat of the octagonal round in September by the U.S. men’s national team. Costa Rica drew against Panama and Jamaica in September, positive results after a 1-0 loss to Mexico.

El Salvador faces off with Panama in another intriguing matchup, one which has the hosts coming in as underdogs. Hugo Perez’s side has yet to score in qualifying, tying both the USMNT and Honduras last month. Panama sits on five points after winning in Jamaica, 3-0, and also tying Costa Rica and Mexico.

Here is a closer look at Thursday’s Concacaf qualifying matchups:

Mexico vs. Canada

9:40 p.m. ET, Paramount +, Univision

The top two teams in the current Concacaf qualifying standings square off on Thursday with both looking to stay undefeated.

Mexico has star striker Raul Jimenez back available after a lengthy injury layoff, which should give an added boost to El Tri’s attacking front. Hirving Lozano is also back from injury, as is star midfielder Hector Herrera, who also missed September’s qualifiers.

Canada will seek revenge against Mexico after being eliminated in the Gold Cup semifinals this past summer. Tajon Buchanan and Alphonso Davies provide a speed element to trouble Mexico’s defense, with in-form Lille striker Jonathan David gives the Canadians a goal threat up top.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

8:05 P.M. ET, Paramount +

A pair of winless sides meet in San Pedro Sula with hopes of sparking its qualifying campaigns.

Honduras meets Costa Rica on Thursday night looking to rebound from a Matchday 3 loss to the USMNT. Fabian Coito’s side only scored twice in the September window, battling back for a draw against Canada, before failing to find the back of the net against El Salvador. Alberth Elis and Anthony Lozano are the top threats for Honduras and will be the go-to guys in the final third.

Costa Rica only has one goal to its name so far in qualifying, a theme that will need to change for success. Veteran midfielders Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz should anchor the midfield while Joel Campbell is fit and available to start at striker. Keylor Navas remains a top goalkeeper and will need to come up with a few top saves for Costa Rica on the road.

El Salvador vs. Panama

10:05 P.M. ET, Paramount +, universo

El Salvador comes into Thursday’s clash with Panama as underdogs, but an upset win could be the spark Hugo Perez’s side needs.

La Selecta has failed to score in the octagonal round so far and will need to stand firm against a Panama side that is all-around better. Darwin Ceren and Alex Roldan highlight the MLS contingent on the El Salvador roster, both who will be key for keeping out a Panamanian attack.

Panama is sitting in fourth place after three matches, an impressive start to the final qualifying round. Rolando Blackburn has two goals under his belt so far while Andres Andrade and Cecilio Waterman each have one apiece. Thomas Christiansen’s side will be favored to leave with a positive result after holding their own against Mexico and Jamaica so far.

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