Category: World Cup qualifying

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls

Jamaica courting RBNY’s Bradley Wright-Phillips

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Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored 42 goals in 65 league appearances since signing for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in 2013.

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Wright-Phillips’ 2014 season, in which the son of legendary Arsenal striker Ian Wright tied the single-season league record with 27 goals, was so good that a handful of folks wondered aloud, “Might Roy Hodgson, desperate for goalscorers, pick him in his 2014 World Cup squad?” That, of course, didn’t come to pass — nor was it every going to happen.

A London-born boy who bounced around the lower divisions of England’s football pyramid before arriving in North America, Bradley, the younger brother of former Manchester City, Chelsea and England winger Shaun, was a virtual lock to never feature for a senior national team at any point during his playing career (he was capped five times by the England U-20 team in 2005).

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That was until the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) decided that, due to his proximity by playing in MLS and Jamaican lineage traced back to one of his grandmothers, the 30-year-old striker is a must-have addition ahead of Jamaica’s ongoing 2018 World Cup qualifying run.

Roy Simpson, a member of Jamaica’s coaching staff, confirmed over the weekend that not only has the JFF reached out to Wright-Phillips, but that he was somewhat receptive of the idea — quotes from the Jamaica Gleaner:

“Yes, we have reached out to Bradley Wright-Phillips.”

“Both parties agreed that it is OK to pursue the paperwork, just in case he decides to take up the offer.”

According to the Gleaner report, Wright-Phillips is lukewarm on the idea of playing for Jamaica, though as the next World Cup draws nearer and nearer, that could easily change. Kemar Lawrence, Jamaica’s starting left back, is Wright-Phillips’ Red Bulls teammate and is said to be assisting in his recruitment. Wright-Phillips would join the likes of Giles Barnes and Simon Dawkins to have come to MLS and used their Jamaican roots to switch allegiances from England to Jamaica, should he choose to do so. It’s been a successful recruiting strategy thus far for the Reggae Boyz, so don’t expect it to cease anytime soon.

2018 World Cup qualification draw: USMNT gets favorable group

Fifa World Cup Preliminary Draw Preparations

Begin the countdown as we are less than three years away from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Today in St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter took the stage at the same time to begin the ceremonies, as qualification groups were drawn from pots by legends such as Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and Samuel Eto’o.

[ MORE: Valcke to step down from FIFA post ]

Below are the groups from all the continents, as qualification begins later this year.


Group A: Mexico, Honduras, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize

Group B: Costa Rica, Panama, Grenada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua

Group C: United States, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda/Guatemala

The United States has gotten a pretty favorable group here, paired with Trinidad & Tobago and the winners of two playoffs. They should win Group C with ease.

Group B is very intriguing as Costa Rica and Panama will face off, and could be joined by Jamaica should the Reggae Boyz defeat Nicaragua in their playoff. Jamaica has shown they can be contenders in CONCACAF by making it to the Gold Cup final, but have only qualified for the World Cup once, back in 1998.


Group A: Netherlands, France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus, Luxembourg

Group B: Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra

Group C: Germany, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan, San Marino

Group D: Wales, Austria, Serbia, Ireland, Moldova, Georgia

Group E: Romania, Denmark, Poland, Montenegro, Armenia,Kazakhstan

Group F: England, Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta

Group G: Spain, Italy, Albania, Israel, Macedonia, Liechtenstein

Group H: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus

Group I: Croatia, Iceland, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland

The biggest matchups in UEFA come from Group A, as the Netherlands, France and Sweden are all grouped together. The Dutch and French are two of the strongest teams in Europe, and you can never count out a side with Zlatan in the mix.

Group G sees heavyweights Spain and Italy paired together, although the rest of the group should be very easy. England will face Scotland in Group F, while Slovakia and Slovenia are always tough opponents to beat.


In South America, there is just one group as all the teams must play each other. Today, the first day of matches was drawn.

Colombia vs Peru
Chile vs Brazil
Argentina vs Ecuador
Venezuela vs Paraguay
Bolivia vs Uruguay


Group A: Tahiti, New Caledonia, Winner of Round One, Papua New Guinea

Group B: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu


In Africa, the 26 lowest-ranking teams were drawn into 13 home-and-away ties, with the winners moving on to the second round of qualifying. After the second round matches are played, five groups of four teams will be drawn.

Somalia vs Niger (winner will play Cameroon)
South Sudan vs Mauritania (winner will play Tunisia)
Gambia vs Namibia (winner will play Guinea)
Sao Tome e Principe vs Ethiopia (winner will play Congo)
Chad vs Sierra Leone (winner will play Egypt)
Comoros vs Lesotho (winner will play Ghana)
Djibouti vs Swaziland (winner will play Nigeria)
Eritrea vs Botswana (winner will play Mali)
Seychelles vs Burundi (winner will play DR Congo)
Liberia vs Guinea-Bissau (winner will play Ivory Coast)
Central African Republic vs Madagascar (winner will play Senegal)
Mauritius vs Kenya (winner will play Cape Verde)
Tanzania vs Malawi (winner will play Algeria)
Sudan vs Zambia
Libya vs Rwanda
Morocco vs Equatorial Guinea
Mozambique vs Gabon
Benin vs Burkina Faso
Togo vs Uganda
Angola vs South Africa

UEFA confirms format, timetable for UEFA Nations League, EURO qualifying has been approved

"You know what? I don't understand it either." - Michel Platini
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UEFA announced on Thursday its executive committee has approved the final format, including promotion and relegation, and fixture details of its new UEFA Nations League competition.

The overall aim of the tournament, which will replace most international friendlies on the six international match dates from September to November 2018 and resume again in June 2019, is to stack the top European nations against one another in competitive fixtures more frequently. And to make money. Lots and lots of money, surely.

The UEFA Nations League will also offer a second qualifying route through its own playoffs system (more on that in a moment) for the World Cup (2022) and European Championship (2020).

Here’s where the Nations League gets a little bit confusing. We’ll just allow UEFA’s official outline to take it away now. How the four “leagues” will be organized:

• The 54 participating teams are split into four divisions, A–B–C–D, according to their strength

• League A will include the top-ranked teams, League D the lowest-ranked teams

• Leagues A and B will consist of four groups of three teams

• League C will comprise two groups of three teams and two groups of four teams

• League D will be formed by four groups of four teams

How teams will qualify for the “Final Four” and how those playoffs work:

• In each division, four group winners are promoted (or play in the Final Four, see below) and four teams are relegated for the next competition to be played in 2020

• The four group winners of UEFA Nations League A will play in a knockout format (semi-finals and final) in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League champions

How four teams will qualify for the 2020 European Championship through the Nations League:

• The winner and runner-up in each of the ten EURO Qualifiers groups will qualify automatically for the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament

• The four remaining UEFA EURO 2020 places will be allocated to the winners of play-off matches which will take place in March 2020.

• The four group winners in each league qualify (16 teams) for the play-offs

• If winner(s) are already qualified through the European Qualifiers, the next best ranked team(s) within the league qualify for the play-offs

See? Just as simple as could be. Essentially, the Nations League is the addition of second European Championship-type tournament which has its owner winner and also allows you to qualify for the actual European Championship the following year, and the removal of a few friendlies and the existing European Championship qualifying playoffs.

Here’s a thought: How about we — meaning all the world’s confederations — simply do away with many of these money-grab friendlies — because if we’re being honest, that’s all they are — instead of trying to replace them with “more meaningful ” fixtures. Players and clubs already believe the players, in whom massive amounts of money are invested, are spread too thin — hence the reluctance of players to participate and clubs often times to release their players — which is something that dressing up friendlies as “competitive” fixtures isn’t going to to change.

In short, if a “solution” to “improve” something must be as complex as the UEFA Nations League, perhaps the simpler (read: better) answer is to get rid of the “problem” altogether. But where’s the money fun in that?