Friday 28 January 2022, 23:00

Decisive games across the world

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  • Next matchday in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

  • Nineteen games to be played across three confederations

  • Decisive fixtures coming up

The games keep coming thick and fast in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying. After 15 matches were played across three confederations on 27 and 28 January, the next matchday is just around the corner with 19 fixtures to be played between 30 January and 3 February as teams battle for one of the coveted World Cup tickets. Who will lead the way in the Asian, South American and North, Central American and Caribbean zones, and whose dreams of Qatar 2022 will be left in the balance?

AFC: Crucial games and a three-way tussle

In Group A, IR Iran reserved their place in Qatar on Thursday. Korea Republic also look well on course to secure automatic qualification in the runners-up spot with an eight-point advantage over third-placed United Arab Emirates and just three games left to play.

Match in focus: Japan – Saudi Arabia

Only victory will do for second-placed Japan (15 points) in Group B when they take on section leaders Saudi Arabia (19), as Australia (14) are breathing down the necks of the Samurai Blue, setting up a gripping three-way qualification battle in the final fixtures. Saudi Arabia won the reverse game 1-0 on home turf thanks to Firas Al Birakan’s strike.

Fixtures at a glance:

01.02.2022 Japan – Saudi Arabia Vietnam - China PR Lebanon - Iraq Syria - Korea Republic IR Iran – United Arab Emirates Oman - Australia


27.01.2022 Australia 4-0 Vietnam Japan 2–0 China PR Lebanon 0–1 Korea Republic IR Iran 1–0 Iraq United Arab Emirates 2–0 Syria Saudi Arabia 1–0 Oman

CONMEBOL: Ecuador in pole position

In South America, matchday 16 of 18 is on the agenda. After Brazil and Argentina made sure of their places at Qatar 2022 in November last year, and with Ecuador (24 points) well placed to join them, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia look to have the best chance of grabbing the final automatic World Cup ticket and the play-off spot against the fifth-placed side from AFC-zone qualifying. Los Cafeteros suffered a damaging 1-0 home defeat by Peru on Friday and were subsequently overtaken by them in the standings. Uruguay also climbed above Colombia after their 1-0 success in Paraguay.

Match in focus: Peru - Ecuador

Ecuador’s draw against Brazil during the week could ultimately prove to be important. They are now five points ahead of fifth-placed Uruguay, meaning a victory at the Estadio Nacional in Lima would bring a fourth World Cup finals appearance within touching distance.

Fixtures at a glance:

01.02.2022 Bolivia - Chile 02.02.2022 Uruguay - Venezuela Argentina - Colombia Brazil - Paraguay Peru - Ecuador


27.01.2022 Ecuador 1–1 Brazil 28.01.2022 Paraguay 0–1 Uruguay Chile 1-2 Argentina Colombia 0–1 Peru Venezuela 4–1 Bolivia

Concacaf: Neighbours joust for top spot

In North, Central American and Caribbean zone qualifying, Canada (19 points), USA (18) and Mexico (17) have managed to surge clear of the rest of the pack, and will no doubt have been happy to learn of Panama’s (14 points) 1-0 defeat in Costa Rica. Another loss in Mexico on Thursday could dash Los Canaleros’ dreams of automatic qualification. Nevertheless, the intercontinental play-off place offers hope for the remaining teams in the section, promising a match against the winner of OFC qualifying in Qatar in June.

Match in focus: Canada - USA

First against second, a clash of neighbours or a meeting between the World Cup 2026 co-hosts: the upcoming game between Canada and USA could take on any number of guises. The reverse fixture in September last year ended in a 1-1 draw, and as such the Canucks are unbeaten in the final qualifying round (five wins, four draws), boasting both the best attack and joint-best defence together with USA.

Fixtures at a glance:

30.01.2022 Canada - USA Panama - Jamaica 31.01.2022 Mexico - Costa Rica Honduras - El Salvador 03.02.2022 Jamaica - Costa Rica USA - Honduras El Salvador - Canada Mexico - Panama


27.01.2022 USA 1–0 El Salvador 28.01.2022 Jamaica 1–2 Mexico Honduras 0–2 Canada Costa Rica 1-0 Panama

Qualified for Qatar 2022

Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, England, France, IR Iran, Netherlands, Qatar, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland.

Qualified for final round of African qualifying

Algeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia

Qualified for European play-offs

Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and Wales.