Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts on the Hex

Javier Aguirre arrived today in Mexico to be presented for his second go-around as head coach of the Mexican National Team.

Aguirre's job, this time, is much easier. In 2002, he had 5 games left, only half a round to deal with and a miserable 4 points. Today, he has 7 games left, and the hardest first legs of the round have already been played.

I've always thought that the Hex was a bit of an oddity and should be replaced by a more challenging group. After all, when 4 out of 6 teams get a ticket (or at least half a ticket) it's not so much a race to be the best as much as it is a slow walk to avoid the tail end of the group.

It seems CONCACAF gets really competitive in the early group stages only letting 1 team survive from 1v1 knockouts in the first two rounds, then 2 out of 4 in the third round, and when it really matters CONCACAF allows 4 out of 6 to go through.

With all that in mind, would the last round of qualifying not be much more competitive and a lot more fun if it were 10 teams rather than 6?

It seems, after all, unfair that the reason why a nation that had been showing promise in recent years like Panama is already eliminated from World Cup contention is only because CONCACAF didn't have the foresight to pair them up against... oh... the Cayman Islands rather than El Salvador.

And what's to be said of Guatemala, who had to toil in a group with the US and Trinidad & Tobago while El Salvador, with all due respect, enjoyed matches vs. Haiti and Surinam.

There's also former world cup side Jamaica to consider and a growing Canada that's enjoyed having players in Europe for years and is now expanding their domestic pool thanks to MLS.

There's 40 members of CONCACAF. 10 groups of 4 in the first round. 2 go through. That leaves 20.

5 groups of 4 in the second round. 2 go through. That leaves 10.

Final round... 10 teams, CONMEBOL style.

USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Canada and Panama.

Makes that final spot that much harder to get a hold of doesn't it?

Just a thought.

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