The Czech Baseball Story Adds a New Chapter

We begin in Brno, the southeastern city of the Czech Republic close to the Austrian and Slovakian borders.

While the city is known by many as the second city of the Czech Republic, it is known within the baseball community as the Czech baseball capital.

From GetByBus: Brno

Both in the professional ranks and the youth levels, Brno has consistently had the best teams over the century long history of baseball in Czechia.

And on 20 August 2013, this would come to life on the ESPN networks as we saw Brno’s South Moravia LLWS team make history. Brno would battle out Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores (Michigan) 5-3 in the Czech Republic’s only LLWS victory in its history.

People may have not realized the high level of play coming out of the Czech Republic before, but after that day, people now knew that the bats were swinging in Brno.

From ShutterStock; Brno at the LLWS

And perhaps, this game was foreshadowing for the Czechs greatest baseball accomplishment to date just 9 years later, when the Czechs defeated Spain 3-1 this past Wednesday night to Qualify for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the first time it its history!

But, how did we get here? How did a country so focused on ice hockey, basketball, soccer, and other sports become a baseball haven for Central Europe?

Baseball was first introduced in 1919, but fell out of Czech society almost completely during World War Two. After World War Two, American troops in the Western half started to re-introduce the sport. However, the Czech and Slovaks quickly became one communist state, Czechoslovakia. And, within three years of the end of World War Two, the new government had banned baseball.

Baseball did not return again until 1964 when a softball club began playing baseball in Prague. This began baseball’s ascent into Czech life.

In 1969, the Czechoslovakia Baseball and Softball Association was created, and teams had already started to play outside of the nation.

By 1979, the first Czechoslovakian Championship was held!

You can read more about this history here.

Since this moment, Brno has made their name known in Central European baseball.

Brno has had four major Czech teams: Draci Brno, Hroši Brno, VSK Technika Brno, and MZLU Express Brno. These teams have all featured in the top Czech League, the Czech Baseball Extraliga.

This league currently consists of ten teams with Cardion Hroši Brno and Draci Brno being the Brno representatives. Both of these teams met in the 2022 Extraliga Final this year with Draci Brno winning the series 4 games to 2.

Despite Technika Brno not featuring in the Extraliga currently, it is Technika Brno and Draci Brno that have been most successful over the years from Brno. Technika Brno has won 5 Czech/Czechoslvoakian titles, while Draci Brno is the best Czech team of all-time, winning a record 23 Czech titles, and as mentioned before, are the current Czech National Champions.

Photo © by Ladislav Svěnčík, @ladislavsvencik: Draci Brno after winning the 2020 Czech Extraliga.

This dominance by Draci Brno did not start until 1995, and by 2010, Draci Brno had won 16 straight Czech championships!

At the youth levels, Brno has also dominated for a while now. In European-Middle Eastern-African LLWS qualifiers, Brno has often represented the Czechs, and in 2013 and 2014, the aforementioned Brno’s South Moravia qualified for Williamsport!

The City of Brno has thus become a household name for baseball fans from the Americas and Asia too, opening up these fans to the realization that good baseball exists in the heart of Central Europe.

From Extraliga: Draci Brno’s Municipal Baseball Stadium

But, what many people may not know is that Czech Baseball has expanded its reach domestically. Other regions of the Czech Republic are now dominating. Recently, we have seen teams from Prague, the largest city and capital, dominate, while the Czech Republic’s third biggest city, Ostrava, had their main professional team the Arrows win the 2021 Extraliga, as well as the 2018 and 2019 editions. And in the youth setup, Prague broke the streak since 2008 of Brno appearing in the LLWS qualifiers in 2018, displaying Prague baseball at a high level. Brno would return after, and in 2022, went 3-0 in the final European qualifiers until the last game where they lost to Bologna 1-4 in the Final, who they had beaten previously.

The Czech Baseball influence thus covers from the youth to the highest levels in the three historic regional capital cities of the Czech Republic: Prague (Bohemia), Brno (Czech Moravia), and Ostrava (Czech Silesia). In addition to this, there are more baseball cities that feature in the Czech Republic, probably the most notable being Jablonec nad Nisou who has a team in the Extraliga. This city sits in the metropolitan area of Liberic, the fifth largest city and the former industrial home of Czechia.

From Reddit

As displayed here, the Czechs have created a very good baseball environment with the main cities and all the regions represented by a team. Plus, they have invested in youth level training to build up their domestic talent pool. These workings have catapulted the Czechs into a perennial Top 5 European nation in baseball, a ranking they have finished within in every European Baseball Championship since 2012.

And hence, this Czech victory is a really good victory for baseball in Europe.

It is great to see Spain and others do well and make it to the WBC like in 2013. It is even fun to see Great Britain qualify this year.

But, the Czech Republic is a nation that features players coming from the Czech youths to the WBC. It is a nation doing everything right from the grassroots and up to its highest levels and has been rewarded for it.

Outside of one player, all the players on the field that qualified are Czech and from the Czech Republic, with most of them still playing in the Extraliga and all of them having played there. The only player not from the Czech Republic is American born pitcher, Jake Rabinowitz, who pitches in the Extraliga and qualifies for the American, Czech, and Israeli national teams. And out of these 29, 12 play for Brno sides, which means a majority of the players represent the clubs from the rest of the nation.

When you look at baseball infrastructure and talent pool, in the Czech Reoublic, they have it and it is home grown.

These facts make the Czech achievement even more impressive. They did not have to bring over dual nationals to get a win.

Rather, the only player not from the Czech Republic on their side was already playing in the Czech Republic to begin with and is Czech.

The biggest hurdle for baseball according to most experts overseas is the development of players. Many of these nations are able to recruit their diasporas, but outside of the baseball blue bloods, most of the other nations that can compete at a high level get their players from abroad. With the Czech Republic qualifying for the World Baseball Classic, a new high level national team has added itself into the mix of the high performaning home grown national teams.

What is even more significant for the growth of the sport as a whole is that the Czech Republic became the first Central and East European country to qualify, as well as the first Slavic nation to qualify.

Despite many Americans’ lineage originating from these regions like 2018 NL MVP and 2017 WBC Champion, Christian Yelich, these regions have been in a WBC drought since this new professional world championship of baseball was created in 2006.

Now that the Czech Republic has qualified, more will see the benefits of having their nation playing in one of the world’s most popular sports, in some of the nicest, largest, and unique stadiums of any sport.

With new nations appearing in the European Championships from these regions like Croatia, Slovenia, and Slovakia, there now once again appears to be a new region on the rise for baseball.

The Czech momentum will thus not only help the Czechs out in America’s past time, but will also likely improve the play of baseball in places like Croatia that are already vastly improving. All of these realities make the Czech qualification a good story for international baseball, and a well deserved accomplishment.

Congrats to the Czech Republic on qualifying for the 2023 WBC!

Photo from Sebastian Widmann/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Czech Republic verse Spain full replay

Environmentalism, Monarchy, and Capitalism

Some may say that each of these terms juxtaposes the other, but King Charles III hopes to change this.

In a meeting held with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, James Marape, King Charles III and PM James Marape discussed a new hope for the world economy that would reward the environmental benefits of countries like Papua New Guinea, and the industrial and innovative countries like the United Kingdom.

Luckily for King Charles III, he is the king of both of these nations and wields considerable influence in both the industrial and environmental worlds.

What the plan centers around is the ability of countries that do provide conservation and reduced deforestation with money for their services in lign with our capitalist world.

The goal is to reward nations for being environmental, like a tax credit for an electric car does.

But instead of a tax credit, it would be in the form of an actual payment for a service.

And what would this service be?

A lot of people know that in the fight against carbon in the atmosphere, trees and other plants are a great way to stop the excessive amounts reaching up there that contribute to an ever warming climate. Even if you do not believe in this scientific belief, you can agree that the conservation of forests is good for our planet.

Either way, there is a real service these natural habitats are providing all of us.

For many, like King Charles III, this is providing us with the ability to continue to industrialize and grow the world economy, while fighting pollution and human-caused climate change. The more trees we grow, the easier it is for us to breathe, and the better our planet operates. And, by offsetting for the conservation of these forested areas like in Papua New Guinea, we are able to grow industry without seeing as harmful effects, as people desperately need money as well.

But, for this to happen, there needs to be monetary incentives for countries like Papua New Guinea to continue to conserve amidst many lucrative proposals from industries to mining and to do other activities that disrupt this fragile ecosystem.

Maybe this will come from other countries, or maybe this will come from private corporations. As King Charles III mentioned before, private industries would be much better at dealing with these issues.

Photo from Papua New Guinea Today

NCAA FBS Rankings Week 4:

  1. Georgia 3-0 (SEC): The Bulldogs beat South Carolina 48-7 and are clearly playing like the best team in the nation.
  2. Alabama 3-0 (SEC): Alabama dominated UL Monroe 63-7 last week. The Crimson Tide continue to dominate against non Power 5 conference schools, in a way no other team does.
  3. USC 3-0 (Pac-12): USC closed out Fresno State 45-17. The Trojans have dominated every game they are in thus far, and given how good Rice has been the last two weeks, it appears that USC are much better than we thought.
  4. Ohio State 3-0 (Big Ten): The Buckeyes finally came out fully against a good team. Ohio State won 77-21 against Toledo.
  5. Clemson 3-0 (ACC): Clemson won 48-20 against Louisana Tech and improved their previous bad play they had suffered against Furman a week before.
  6. Oklahoma 3-0 (Big 12): Oklahoma won against Nebraska 49-14.
  7. Michigan 3-0 (Big Ten): Michigan beat Colorado State 51-7, Hawaii 56-10, and now UCONN 59-0.
  8. Oklahoma State 3-0 (Big 12): Oklahoma State won 63-7 against Arkasas Pine Bluff. The Cowboys have a real test next week with Baylor.
  9. Washington 3-0 (Pac-12): Washington defeated Michigan State 39-28. The Huskies are really good so far this season, and will have another chance for a good win against Stanford next week.
  10. Kentucky 3-0 (SEC): Kentucky continues to impress with a 31-0 win over FCS Youngstown State.
  11. Oregon State 3-0 (Pac-12): Oregon State beat one of FCS best teams last season, Montana State, 68-28. The Beavers also have beaten Boise State and Fresno State.
  12. Tennessee 3-0 (SEC): Tennessee defeated Akron 63-6. But, their undefeated season looks to be in jeopardy when they play at home to Florida this week.
  13. Ole Miss 3-0 (SEC): Ole Miss has continued to improve with each game. They went from struggling against Troy with an eventual comfortable win, 28-10, to defeating Georgia Tech this past week, 42-0.
  14. Arkansas 3-0 (SEC): Arkansas has won a lot of closer games this season, and they have been good wins. However, the Razorbacks struggled last week against the FCS Missouri State Bears, in a 38-27 win.
  15. Oregon 2-1 (Pac-12): Oregon defeated a really good BYU team, 41-20. The Ducks might have lost to Georgia very badly, but have sense improved greatly.
  16. Penn State 3-0 (Big Ten): Penn State had a close win over Purdue, 35-31, and then the Nittany Lions defeated the Ohio Bobcats 46-10 and then just defeated the Auburn Tigers 41-12.
  17. Syracuse 3-0 (ACC): Syracuse has now knocked off an ACC foe, 31-7 against Louisville, and a Big Ten team, Purdue, 32-29.
  18. NC State 3-0 (ACC): NC State won 27-14 at home against Texas Tech. NC State was up 27-7 too, and Texas Tech had been undefeated.
  19. Florida State 3-0 (ACC): FSU defeated Louisville 35-31 this past week and improved upon their undefeated season.
  20. Texas 2-1 (Big 12): Texas (Austin) won a very good game against in-state foe, UTSA, 41-20. This was an impressive win after coming off of a close loss to Alabama.
  21. Florida 2-1 (SEC): Florida has played in close games in each of these games. They defeated South Florida 31-28 last week. This week will be a difficult away game against Tennessee.
  22. Utah 2-1 (Pac-12): Utah won 35-7 against San Diego State.
  23. Wake Forrest 3-0 (ACC): Wake Forrest defeated undefeated Liberty last week, 37-36.
  24. Washington State 3-0 (Pac-12): Washington State won 38-7 against Colorado State.
  25. Minnesota 3-0 (Big Ten): Minnesota won 49-7 against Colorado. The Golden Gophers have dominated each of their games, but they have had an easier schedule.
  • TCU 2-0 (Big 12): TCU was on a bye last week.
  • Pittsburgh 2-1 (ACC): The Panthers defeated Western Michigan 34-13. Pittsburgh’s loss was to a very good Tennessee team 27-34.
  • Iowa State 3-0 (Big 12): ISU beat Ohio 43-10 and is now 3-0.
  • Cincinnati 2-1 (AAC): Cincinnati won 38-17 in a rivalry game against Miami (Ohio).
  • Arizona 2-1 (Pac-12): Arizona won 31-28 over North Dakota State, which was the Bison’s first FBS loss in their last six tries.
  • Kansas 3-0 (Big 12): The Jayhawks won 48-30 against Houston who is a really good team. This Kansas win was their third in a row.
  • Indiana 3-0 (Big Ten): The Hoosiers beat WKU 33-30 (OT) to go to 3-0.
  • Texas A&M 2-1 (SEC): Texas A&M won 17-9 against a very good Miami side.
  • BYU 2-1 (Independent): BYU lost to Oregon last week 20-41.
  • Baylor 2-1 (Big 12): Baylor had a loss in overtime to BYU, but rebounded with a 42-7 win over Texas State.

Conference: Out of Conference record;

  1. SEC: 31-5; Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 23-5; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State, West Virginia
  3. Pac-12: 24-9; USC, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado
  4. ACC: 28-6; Clemson, Syracuse, NC State, Florida State, Wake Forrest, Pittsburgh, Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Boston College
  5. Big Ten: 27-8; Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, Rutgers
  6. Mountain West: 16-16; Fresno State, Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force, UNLV, San Jose State, San Diego State, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii
  7. AAC: 17-13; Cincinnati, Tulane, East Carolina, SMU, UCF, South Florida, Tulsa, Memphis, Temple, Navy
  8. Sun Belt: 20-19; James Madison, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Appalachian State, Marshall, Old Dominion, Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia Southern, Southern Mississippi, Texas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Monroe
  9. C-USA: 17-19; UTSA, Western Kentucky, UAB, Rice, FAU, Middle Tennessee State, Lousiana Tech, North Texas, UTEP, FIU, Charlotte
  10. MAC: 12-22; Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Ohio, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Akron, Buffalo

Independents: 8-15; BYU, Notre Dame, Liberty, Army, UCONN, UMASS, NMSU

Photo from Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times

NCAA FBS Top 25 for Week 3:

  1. Georgia 2-0 SEC: Georgia did not impress as much against Samford, but relative to other teams at the top, Georgia deserves to be #1 after a 49-3 win over Oregon and a 33-0 win over Samford.
  2. Alabama 2-0 SEC: Alabama might have barely beaten Texas, but when the Longhorns are playing well and are at home, it is one of the toughest places to play in the nation. So, the Crimson Tide still did well to win 20-19 on a heavy upset Saturday. But, their 55-0 win over Utah State no longer looks as good following Weber State’s 35-7 win over Utah State this past weekend.
  3. USC 2-0 Pac-12: USC dominated Stanford and found themselves up 41-14. Stanford looks improved this season too. So, it was a legit Power 5 matchup. The Trojans took their foot off the gas pedal late which is concerning, but they still won comfortably 41-28. They have the most impressive win from all Top 10 teams last week besides BYU for now.
  4. Ohio State 2-0 Big Ten: Ohio State struggled early against Arkansas State to separate, only going up 24-9 deep in the first half. But their second half was much better and saw the Buckeyes close out the win 45-12. Still, their Notre Dame win no longer looks as impressive following Notre Dame’s home loss to Marshall. So, they no longer have the marquee win and that game was quite close.
  5. Clemson 2-0 ACC: Clemson struggled to dominate against FCS Furman and only went up 28-9 late in the first half. They would win the game 35-12, but it was far from a good game for the Tigers. They appear to be a team the experts really want to be better than they really are, but they themselves so far have failed to impress.
  6. Oklahoma 2-0 Big 12: Oklahoma led Kent State 7-3 at half time, and then put up a big third quarter scoring 24 points to lead 31-3. A fourth quarter safety secured the Sooners win over the Golden Flashes. While Kent State is supposed to be a good MAC team this season, it is tough to rank a team like the Sooners so high when the lower ranked Huskies at Washington did much better in all but the final score against Kent State last week.
  7. Michigan 2-0 Big Ten: Michigan dominated Hawaii, but so has everyone else. The Rainbow Warriors look absolutely horrific so far and the Wolverines did exactly what they had to do, winning 56-10 at home. But, despite the win, Michigan is still yet to have a win against a team that puts them over the teams they are behind.
  8. Oklahoma State 2-0 Big 12: Oklahoma State struggled to keep a distance from Arizona State until the fourth quarter. After the Sun Devils got the game to 20-17, down by 3, the Cowboys responded with a touchdown the next minute, and then another touchdown six minutes later with 7:41 left. This was a huge win as Arizona State’s potential is very high this year. Oklahoma State proved they can win by scoring a lot two weeks ago, but this past week, proved they can win grinding it out in a slower and more methodical game, with a 34-17 home win.
  9. Arkansas 2-0 SEC: The Razorbacks look good to start the season with a 31-24 home win over Cincinnati and a 44-30 home win over South Carolina. Arkansas did a good job after the first quarter to keep the game a two score game, but the Gamecocks did bring it down to 16-21 in the third quarter. The Razorbacks responded by dominating the fourth quarter. These wins are both over good teams.
  10. BYU 2-0 Independent: BYU is once again a Top 10 team after defeating Baylor in Overtime, 26-20 at home. The Cougars had the best win of Week 2 out of all Top 25 teams, but their issue is not about starting hot, it is about finishing hot once the Utah weather cools down.
  11. Kentucky 2-0 SEC: Kentucky looks like the next man up in the SEC East after a great second half away to the Florida Gators. The Wildcats found themselves down 13-16 in The Swamp at half time, and then decided to score 13 unanswered points in the second half to close out the game and win 26-16. It was good to see Kentucky score so much away against a good defensive Florida team. And their defense also held the Gators to 16 points, something the Utes could not do two weeks ago. Kentucky also dominated the MAC favorites two weeks ago 37-13 when they beat the RedHawks of Miami (Ohio). So, it is a good start for a “basketball school”.
  12. Mississippi State 2-0 SEC: I may have been the only person to rank Arizona a Top 25 team after their commanding 38-20 win last week away against San Diego State. And, I might have been the only one to rank Mississippi State so highly after their 49-23 home win over the Memphis Tigers. But, nonetheless, the late game in Tuscon on Saturday proved these rankings to be somewhat accurate, at least so far. The Bulldogs led the whole game after the 5:27 mark in the first quarter. But, the Wildcats hung in and proved that second year Head Coach Jedd Fish is doing a fantastic job at turning around Rob Grownkowski’s U of A. The game went into the fourth quarter with Arizona driving down 17-25 late in the third quarter. And then, Mississippi State got a deflected interception and ran in back deep into Arizona territory. The Bulldogs would convert this turnover into a touch down in the fourth quarter going up 32-17. The Wildcats kept trying to bring the game back into balance, but the Bulldogs kept ahead of the score. Eventually, the Bulldogs scored late with 3:18 left to go up 39-17, and would win the game by this score. It was a very good Power 5 away win for Mississippi State. This was arguably the second most impressive win for a Top 25 team last week, but there is one more that will come later that rivals this one for second best win last week.
  13. Michigan State 2-0 Big Ten: The Spartans dominated the Zips 52-0 at home. While Akron may not be the BEST MAC team, a 52-0 is always a good win. So far, the Spartans look solid but we need to see more to see if they can truly contend for a CFP title this season.
  14. Oregon State 2-0 Pac-12: The Beavers avoided the trap set by the Bulldogs of Fresno State. Fresno State are the favorites to win the Mountain West and look really good again. Going into Fresno is usually a very difficult game, and it proved to be for Oregon State. Despite this, the Beavers received some late game luck and then scored the game winning touchdown on a 3 yard run as clock struck 0:00. It was one for the record books and one that not only will be relived in Oregon State folklore, but also one that signals a resurgence of the Pac-12 in out of conference play. This is in keeping in mind that Oregon State just beat Boise State at home last week.
  15. Miami (Florida) 2-0 ACC: Miami had a convincing 30-7 win over Southern Mississippi and looks to be a solid team this season. This is after the Hurricanes defeated Bethune-Cookman 70-13 at home in Week 1. Things are thus looking good for The U, but still nothing too impressive yet.
  16. Baylor 1-1 Big 12: Baylor lost an overtime game away against a legit Top 10 team. The Bears are still within CFP contention despite the loss.
  17. UCLA 2-0 Pac-12: UCLA had a resounding 45-7 win over Alabama State. This was UCLA’s first time ever playing an FCS school, breaking a tradition only Notre Dame and USC also follow (for now). So far, UCLA looks really good, but has also had an easier schedule than usual. They beat Bowling Green 45-17 last week. Their next game at home to South Alabama will be the Bruins toughest so far, and the Jaguars from Mobile look good this year too.
  18. Florida 1-1 SEC: Florida lost to a very good team last week. Despite this loss, they too are still in CFP contention. They just need to work on their offense.
  19. Washington 2-0 Pac-12: The Huskies beat a usually very competitive Portland State, 52-6. This is after a 45-20 win over Kent State last week. These two results place the Huskies into the Top 25.
  20. Air Force 2-0 Mountain West: Air Force dominated Colorado with 435 yards rushing and only 8 yards passing. Air Force looks really good right now especially after their 48-17 win over Northern Iowa. The Falcons will need to practice more passing though so that Air Force can win out and contend for a CFP spot.
  21. TCU 2-0 Big 12: TCU beat new FCS team, Tarleton State, 59-17. TCU has looked good both games this season.
  22. Minnesota 2-0 Big Ten: Minnesota has dominated both games so far. They beat New Mexico State 38-0 last week and this week, Minnesota won 62-10 against Western Illinois. The Golden Gophers however have quite an easy out of conference schedule and their next game is against their best team yet, Colorado. So, Minnesota’s time in the Top 25 may not last for long. But so far, Minnesota deserves it.
  23. Kansas State 2-0 Big 12: Kansas State looks amazing so far. They defeated Missouri 40-12 this past week and two weeks ago, they defeated a really good FCS team South Dakota 34-0!   These wins were over quality opposition.
  24. Syracuse 2-0 ACC: Syracuse dominated both Louisville 31-7 and UCONN 48-14. The Louisville win was especially impressive after Louisville defeated UCF this week.
  25. Tennessee 2-0 SEC: Tennessee had a big win this week 34-27 over a good Pittsburgh team away. The Volunteers beat Ball State the week before 59-10. They look good thus far, but we have seen this Tennessee show before.
  • NC State 2-0 ACC: NC State beat East Carolina 21-20 two weeks ago and did not look good, until this past week, when we found out East Carolina is really good again, defeating Old Dominion 39-21, who had just beat Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack beat Charleston Southern 55-3 last week and now look like a Top 25 team again after last week.
  • Wake Forest 2-0 ACC: Wake Forest beat Vanderbuilt very handily 45-25, but the score was much more lopsided than that. Similar to USC’s win over Stanford, Wake Forest went up big earlier, 35-10, and then 45-18, but would end up only winning by 20. Their win over VMI 44-10 now looks much more impressive too because Wake Forest looks good again.
  • Marshall 2-0 Sun Belt: Marshall will be a Top 25 team soon if they can keep their momentum going. Marshall beat Norfolk State 55-3 two weeks ago and then beat Notre Dame away 26-21 last week. Notre Dame is either really good and so is Marshall and Ohio State, or all three of these teams are not as good as we think.
  • Washington State 2-0 Pac-12: Washington State won a huge game away over Wisconsin 17-14 with a big 10-0 third quarter. Washington State struggled two weeks ago in the Battle of the Palouse against Idaho, winning 24-17. At first, it looked like the Cougars were going to be bad, but there was a little leeway thinking the Vandals were just close because it was a rivalry. However, Idaho did very well this week away to Indiana, so FCS Idaho is playing like a bowl eligible FBS Idaho and Washington State has two good wins. It is a shame the Vandals did not stay in FBS to continue this run of play in the top division.
  • Ole Miss 2-0 SEC: Ole Miss has a lot of hype, but their schedule has not been tough enough, nor was their Week 1 Troy result impressive enough to warrant a Top 25 spot for these rankings. Ole Miss defeated Troy 28-10 and Central Arkansas 59-3.
  • Texas Tech 2-0 Big 12: Texas Tech dominated Murray State two weeks ago 63-10, and this week, won an impressive home win over a previous Top 25 team, Houston, 33-30 in Overtime. The Red Raidors could be really good this year but it will be difficult to play against the top half of the Big 12.
  • Texas 1-1 Big 12: Texas played very well against Alabama only losing 19-20. But they still lost and their only win so far is a 52-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Texas has the talent to be this good every season and puts up at least one of these games every season. So, they must continue to show this to warrant a Top 25 spot. A win is better than a close loss still.
  • Utah 1-1 Pac-12: Utah beat Southern Utah 73-7! This is coming off of a close away loss to Florida. It is a shame FBS does not have automatic qualifiers for each conference champion for a NCAA Tournament/Playoffs, because by the end of the season, the Utes may be a 10-2 team that legit could be the best team in the nation. They just do not have the extra loss to lose now most likely.
  • Cincinnati 1-1 AAC: Cincinnati got back on the winning streak winning 63-10 against Kennesaw State. Their close loss to Arkansas 24-31 away may have not been so bad because possibly, the Razorbacks are really good. But they do not look as good as Utah.
  • Oregon 1-1 Pac-12: Oregon is capable of being really good, really bad, and mediocre. Against Georgia two weeks ago, the Ducks were really bad losing 3-49. And then, this past week, Oregon beat Eastern Washington 70-14 and looked really good. The Ducks potential is high, but they look like they may lack marquee wins out of conference, thus bringing down their conference and thus their chances of making the CFP are lower even with 1 loss than other teams in the Pac-12.

Conference: Out of Conference Record;

SEC: 22-4; Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Auburn, LSU, Missouri, Vanderbuilt

Big 12: 16-3; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia

Pac-12: 16-6; USC, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, ASU, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Colorado

Big Ten: 18-4; Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Rutgers

ACC: 19-4; Clemson, Miami (Florida), Syracuse, NC State, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Boston College

Sun Belt: 18-10; Marshall, James Madison, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Old Dominion, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Troy, Southern Miss, Louisiana Monroe

Mountain West: 12-12; Air Force, Fresno State, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii

AAC: 11-9: Cincinnati, SMU, ECU, Houston, UCF, Tulsa, Memphis, Tulane, South Florida, Temple, Navy

C-USA: 13-13; Western Kentucky, UTSA, UAB, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, FAU, Rice, Louisiana Tech, UTEP, FIU, Charlotte

MAC: 7-15; Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Ball State

Independents: 5-11; BYU, Notre Dame, Army, Liberty, UCONN, New Mexico State, UMASS

Photo from Cary Edmundson USA Today Sports

The World Mourns the Death of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was the second longest reigning monarch (70 years) after King Louis XVI of France (72 years), and as such, Queen Elizabeth II oversaw an era of deep technological and societal shifts.

Queen Elizabeth II

For one, she is often regarded as the first British Monarch to openly grant self-determination to her colonies.

Under her rule, many parts of the British Empire either became independent, mostly as republics, or independent under her rule.

Those that became republics or part of other republics as well as part of other monarchies while under her rule include:

  1. Pakistan (included Bangladesh and small parts of India originally; 1956)
  2. Gold Coast/Ghana (1960)
  3. Cyprus (includes/included Northern Cyprus too; 1960)
  4. South Africa (1961)
  5. Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania; 1962; became Tanzania later)
  6. Nigeria (1963)
  7. Uganda (1963)
  8. Malaysia (included Singapore; 1963)
  9. Kenya (1964)
  10. Nyasaland/Malawi (1966)
  11. Basutoland/Lesotho (1966)
  12. Guyana (1970)
  13. The Gambia (1970)
  14. Sierra Leone (1971)
  15. Ceylon/Sri Lanka (1972)
  16. Malta (1974)
  17. Seychelles (1976)
  18. Trinidad and Tobago (1976)
  19. Dominica (1978)
  20. Gilbert Islands, and the Canton and Enderbury Islands/Kiribati (Canton and Enderbury Islands were a condominium between the USA and the UK; 1979)
  21. Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (1970 and 1980)
  22. New Hebrides/Vanuatu (previously a condominium between France and the UK; 1980)
  23. Fiji (1987)
  24. Mauritius (1992)
  25. Hong Kong (became part of the People’s Republic of China; 1997)
  26. Barbados (2021)

In addition to these, there were others as well, such as those who were protectorates/mandates of the British Empire that achieved independence under Queen Elizabeth II. These include:

  1. Jammu and Kashmir (1952; became part of India, and now disputed between India, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China)
  2. Suez Canal (became part of Egypt; 1956)
  3. Sudan (condominium between Egypt and the UK and included South Sudan; 1956)
  4. Somaliland (1960; became part of Somalia and then claimed independence again later)
  5. South West Africa/Namibia (became a protectorate of independent South Africa and became independent later; 1961)
  6. British Cameroon (1961; Northern part became part of Nigeria and Southern part became part of Cameroon and now some there claim independence as Ambazonia)
  7. Western Samoa/Samoa (1961)
  8. Kuwait (1961)
  9. Zanzibar (1963; became part of Tanzania later)
  10. Northern Rhodesia/Zambia (1964)
  11. Maldives (1965)
  12. Bechuanaland/Botswana (1966)
  13. South Arabia/South Yemen (1967; became part of Yemen later, and now some claim independence as South Yemen)
  14. Swaziland/Eswatini (1968)
  15. Nauru (was a condominium between New Zealand, Australia, and the UK; 1968)
  16. Tonga (1970)
  17. Muscat and Oman/Oman (1970)
  18. Bahrain (1970)
  19. Qatar (1971)
  20. Trucial States/United Arab Emirates (1971)
  21. Trucial States/Ras Al-Khaimah (1971; became part of the United Arab Emirates in 1972)
  22. Brunei Darussalam (1984)

In addition to all of these sovereignty changes, under Queen Elizabeth II’s rule, many countries gained their full and formal independence from the UK, but kept her as their Queen of their respective countries. These include:

  1. Jamaica (1962)
  2. The Bahamas (1973)
  3. Grenada (1974)
  4. Papua New Guinea (1975)
  5. Solomon Islands (1978)
  6. Tuvalu (1978)
  7. Saint Lucia (1979)
  8. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1979)
  9. Belize (1981)
  10. Antigua and Barbuda (1981)
  11. Canada (1982)
  12. Saint Christopher and Nevis (1983)
  13. Australia (1986)
  14. New Zealand (1986)
The signing of the Canada Act (1982)

There are more states that did this originally including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Pakistan, but these states were included in the previous sections because they later got rid of the Queen as their head of state altogether. It is also important to note that some of these countries achieved independence via other realms such that Samoa achieved independence through New Zealand and Papua New Guinea achieved independence through Australia, and then Nauru achieved independence through Australia, New Zealand, and the UK via a condominium, but in reality, the UK controlled the sovereignty over all of these realms at the time so technically, the UK was still in charge.

Through these many changes, the world began to know Queen Elizabeth II as a monarch against total control and one completely seeking commonwealths, or in other words, one who seeks to govern for the people and by the people, not merely as an autocrat.

Therefore, many of these countries and the countries she had continued to rule had become proper democracies, some under a constitutional monarch, and others under a republic.

Henceforth, the Commonwealth of Nations and various institutions like the Commonwealth Games would become marquee institutions under Queen Elizabeth II’s tutelage. She would become the ceremonial leader of both. These institutions had begun in 1926/1931/1949 and 1930 respectively, but they would really come to full fruition and become a defining characteristic of these former British lands under Queen Elizabeth II.

Today, the Commonwealth of Nations include:

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Australia
  3. The Bahamas
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Barbados
  6. Belize
  7. Botswana
  8. Brunei Darussalam
  9. Cameroon
  10. Canada
  11. Cyprus
  12. Dominica
  13. Eswatini
  14. Fiji
  15. Gabon
  16. The Gambia
  17. Ghana
  18. Grenada
  19. Guyana
  20. India
  21. Jamaica
  22. Kenya
  23. Kiribati
  24. Lesotho
  25. Malawi
  26. Malaysia
  27. Maldives
  28. Malta
  29. Mauritius
  30. Mozambique
  31. Namibia
  32. Nauru
  33. New Zealand
  34. Nigeria
  35. Pakistan
  36. Papua New Guinea
  37. Rwanda
  38. Saint Christopher and Nevis
  39. Saint Lucia
  40. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  41. Samoa
  42. Seychelles
  43. Sierra Leone
  44. Singapore
  45. Solomon Islands
  46. South Africa
  47. Sri Lanka
  48. Tanzania
  49. Togo
  50. Tonga
  51. Trinidad and Tobago
  52. Tuvalu
  53. Uganda
  54. United Kingdom
  55. Vanuatu
  56. Zambia
Blue are current members and orange are former members.
Flag of the Commonwealth of Nations

And the Commonwealth Games includes these nations and some dependencies too:

  1. Bermuda (UK)
  2. British Virgin Islands (UK)
  3. Cayman Islands (UK)
  4. Cook Islands (New Zealand)
  5. Falkland Islands (UK)
  6. Gibraltar (UK)
  7. Guernsey (UK responsibility)
  8. Isle of Man (UK responsibility)
  9. Jersey (UK responsibility)
  10. Montserrat (UK)
  11. Niue (New Zealand)
  12. Norfolk Islands (Australia)
  13. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)
  14. Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)

Notes: Gabon and Togo have yet to compete. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland compete separately instead of the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth Sports Logo

It is via these many institutions that Queen Elizabeth II cemented her influence around the globe even where her kingdoms no longer ruled. 

But, it was her ability to continue with the times as technology changed and society itself changed.

Queen Elizabeth II would embrace computers, cell phones, television, and more. 

Her coronation in 1953 was the first British coronation to appear on television

She possessed a special cell phone with the latest and greatest MI6 approved anti-hacking systems

And when it came to computers and social media, Queen Elizabeth II embraced all sorts of new trends from becoming one of the first people to send an email in 1976, to using Twitter and Instagram, and even filming 3D messages.

These technological shifts by Queen Elizabeth II helped the United Kingdom and her other realms to embrace technology too. 

For example, Niue, a free association state of New Zealand, was the first nation to have full free WIFI in 2012.

Flag of Niue

But she also upheld many traditions. 

For example, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was said in a Liturgy dating back to King Edgar at Bath in 973.

As the world became more secular, and even as the various religious institutions embraced more progressive ideologies, her Anglican Church most notably, she also kept true to her religion and embraced both the Episcopal Church of England as its head (Supreme Governor) and the Calvinist and Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In addition to these, she helped solidify and preserve religious freedom across her domains and elsewhere. 

And even politically, she kept onto traditions such that Sark in Guernsey, a Crown Dependency for which the UK is responsible, was the last area of the world to abolish feudalism. Still, some abnormal rules persist such as no cars and no lights at dark.

Queen Elizabeth II most of all appeared to desire a style of rule that embraced modernity, but kept tradition. Her idea was that institutions needed to evolve with time, but not end.

And these ideas are what we saw most of all during her reign as the British Empire evolved into a democracy across the board, and as such, certain lands would be lost under Queen Elizabeth II, while others would be re-classified like those of the Commonwealth Realms, and others would be kept should they desire like the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland. 

These embraces of democracy are what guided Queen Elizabeth II to strive for neutrality in an ever polarizing partisan world in order to create a unifying institution and a stable part of governance. And it also allowed her to display strength when needed such as in the Australian political scandal of 1975 when Queen Elizabeth II stuck by her Governor-General, and in the Falklands War a decade later when Queen Elizabeth II stuck by the Falkland Islanders in their democratic goal to stay British via armed defense and the military

Now, the powers of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth Realms passes to a king, King Charles III, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son at 73 years of age. 

As such, King Charles III has become king of the following sovereign-states and dependencies:

  1. United Kingdom
    1. Gibraltar
    2. Bermuda
    3. Turks and Caicos Islands
    4. British Virgin Islands
    5. Cayman Islands
    6. Anguilla
    7. Montserrat
    8. Akrotiri and Dhekelia
    9. Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
    10. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
    11. Falkland Islands
    12. British Indian Ocean Territory
    13. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands
    14. British Antarctic Territory
      1. Guernsey (responsibility)
      2. Jersey (responsibility)
      3. Isle of Man (responsibility)
  2. Australia
    1. Ashmore and Cartier Islands
    2. Christmas Island
    3. Cocos (Keeling) Island
    4. Norfolk Island
    5. Coral Sea Islands
    6. Heard Island and McDonald Islands
    7. Australian Antarctic Territory
  3. New Zealand
    1. Ross Dependency
    2. Tokelau
    3. Cook Islands
    4. Niue
  4. Cananda
  5. The Bahamas
  6. Belize
  7. Jamaica
  8. Antigua and Barbuda
  9. Saint Christopher and Nevis
  10. Saint Lucia
  11. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  12. Grenada
  13. Papua New Guinea
  14. Solomon Islands
  15. Tuvalu
Current Commonwealth Realm independent countries in blue, and dependencies in light blue.

Furthermore, King Charles III is now the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and thus a leader of Anglicans worldwide. 

It is highly likely that King Charles III will be well-prepared for this role because he is the longest serving heir apparent to the throne and the oldest successor to the throne in British history! So, he has had a long time as number two to practice and study for this moment. 

King Charles III

But, King Charles III is not quite as popular as Queen Elizabeth II was and therefore, the first order of business might be to start working on how to secure more support in places like Jamaica where the republican movement is strong. Even in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the King’s lack of support might push the republican movements further, especially as there is no longer a woman in charge and the indigenous movements in these latter have greatly shot off. New Zealand is already starting to embrace new flags and a new name for example. 

So, while Queen Elizabeth II was able to hold onto so much power for so long, King Charles III will be in an uphill battle. In terms of overall territories, King Charles III should retain many more proportionally. But, in terms of popularity and the longevity of the monarchy, King Charles III will have to change the hearts and minds of his kingdoms to enshrine his successors’ rule.

NCAA FBS Top 25 Week 1

  1. Alabama 1-0 SEC: Alabama defeated many people’s Mountain West’s favorites 55-0! The Mountain West may be only a shadow of their glory days with Utah, TCU, and BYU, but the conference saw a resurgence last season with Utah State, San Diego State, Air Force, and Fresno State. Nevada was even quite good. So, to win over the 2021 Mountain West Champions in such dominate fashion is quite impressive.
  2. Georgia 1-0 SEC: Georgia’s 49-3 victory over Oregon was the best win this week by far! The Bulldogs dominated a team that could have very well been in the CFP, and who knows, may still work themselves back in there. But, the Bulldogs better beware. While the Ducks have potential, last season they were deceiving. On paper, they were quite good with wins over teams like Ohio State, but in game, they looked quite awful even in their wins.
  3. Ohio State 1-0 Big Ten: The Ohio State scheduled a Top 5 matchup and won. Despite this win, the Buckeyes did not display much excitement. Most Buckeye teams in the past decade would have defeated the Fighting Irish by +20. So, Ohio State really needs to work on their offense or risk losing out on a CFP spot.
  4. Texas A&M 1-0 SEC: Texas A&M did not play as well as they should have defeating a good team for FCS. But, the Aggies still look to be the top favorites to win the SEC West besides Alabama and therefore are clearly a Top 5 team for now.
  5. USC 1-0 Pac-12: USC looked spectacular in their 66-14 win over Rice. This was USC’s most dominating win since the Pete Carroll days and while this hype will probably ware off, these rankings are not for hindsight, rather they are for how teams have performed. The Trojans for now look to be a Top 5 team and the favorites to win the Pac-12.
  6. Clemson 1-0 ACC: Clemson played a close game and then would dominate the last 20 minutes of the game where the Tigers outscored Georgia Tech 27-0.
  7. Oklahoma 1-0 Big 12: Oklahoma defeated a top C-USA team in UTEP handily. This is quite impressive for the new Sooners’ head coach and they continue to look like favorites to win the Big 12.
  8. Michigan 1-0 Big Ten: Michigan won big over Colorado State, a team that could either be really good or really bad. It is tough to tell which Rams team will show up this year for CSU, so this huge Wolverines win it hard to analyze until the future. Yet, a 51-7 win is always good and keeps Michigan comfortably in the Top 10.
  9. Oklahoma State 1-0 Big 12: Oklahoma State looked really good against Central Michigan and despite the final score being 58-44, the Cowboys actually were much better than this against the Chippewas on Saturday. The Cowboys started to tone down their play in the 4th Quarter which led to CMU coming back to make the score closer. Oklahoma State will need to score lots to compete for the CFP and in the CFP if they make it, so this first win was a good sign for the Cowboys’ future.
  10. Baylor 1-0 Big 12: It may have been Albany, but the Bears dominated with 69 points. It looks like regular Baylor service is back and that means lots of points and thus lots of wins. For now, they are clearly at Top 10 team.
  11. Notre Dame 0-1 Independent: If the Buckeyes are as good as expected, and the Fighting Irish continue to compete like they did on Saturday, there is a very good chance that Notre Dame will be in the CFP. But, Notre Dame cannot be Top 10 with a 0-1 record.
  12. Arkansas 1-0 SEC: Arkansas either just beat a Top 4 team or beat a good team in a rebuild. Either way, the Razorbacks look ready to cut away at the SEC and after last season’s massive improvements, Arkansas is mighty capable of being a Top 10 team.
  13. Florida 1-0 SEC: Florida defeated a really good Utah Utes team at home. If the Gators keep this up, Florida will challenge Georgia for the SEC East title.
  14. BYU 1-0 Independent: BYU dominated South Florida 50-21. This win was impressive because the Cougars displayed elite talent to defeat a team full of elite athletes. BYU looks ready to once again go for the CFP, but the Pac-12 looks much better this year and so it will be difficult in the long run to compete for it. However, at the same time, if BYU really does go 12-0 in the regular season, they will almost be a shoe-in for the CFP due to the Pac-12’s improvement thus making BYU better according to the pickers.
  15. Mississippi State 1-0 SEC: The Bulldogs dominated a respectable Memphis side, 49-23. This win shows that Mississippi State can dominate a good athletic and competitive team, which bodes well for their SEC games in the future.
  16. Kentucky 1-0 SEC: Kentucky looks strong and dominated one of the MAC favorites at home. Miami (Ohio) may not be a Georgia or Florida, but they are a top team in an FBS conference. Therefore it was a good win for Kentucky.
  17. Oregon State 1-0 Pac-12: The Beavers dominated Boise State and should contend in the Pac-12 this season.
  18. Wisconsin 1-0 Big Ten: Wisconsin did not get too much of a test against Illinois State but passed it anyway. The Badgers do not look as good as previously.
  19. Miami (Florida) 1-0 ACC: Miami might have played Bethune-Cookman, but they thoroughly dominated scoring 70 points!
  20. Michigan State 1-0 Big Ten: The Spartans looked good in their win over Western Michigan, and due to it being an in-state matchup, the score was actually quite impressive to win by +20.
  21. Washington 1-0 Pac-12: Washington dominated many people’s MAC favorites, Kent State, and it was never really close. Washington has the talent to compete with any team and the home field advantage to defeat any team.
  22. Air Force 1-0 Mountain West: Air Force dominated Northern Iowa, a team that often plays close to Iowa and Iowa State. As of now, Air Force looks like the clear Mountain West favorites in a conference that looks to be rebuilding.
  23. Arizona 1-0 Pac-12: Arizona dominated one of the best college football teams in the past decade, away, on their opening night at their new stadium. The Wildcats may not stay this good and probably will not, but as of now, they are putting up Top 25 performances.
  24. UCLA 1-0 Pac-12: UCLA has the most talent out of any team on the cusp of the Top 25. Despite starting off slow, UCLA dominated Bowling Green both offensively and defensively. Their ability to use many of their wide receivers and tide ends bodes well for the season because it shows they have depth to compete for a CFP spot given their easy relative schedule and their Power 5 status. The Bruins also have a QB and RB that legit could contend for a Heismen Trophy as they have stellar numbers.
  25. TCU 1-0 Big 12: TCU dominated a Power 5 conference team away, in the second half. But, their first half looks worrying because that slow start was against the Buffaloes who look to be the worst team in the Pac-12, and a team that may expect to not win a single game this season due to their poor play and tough schedule.
  • Pittsburgh 1-0 ACC: The Panthers are supposed to be good, and did defeat Big 12 opposition in the Mountaineers, and an old rival. Still, the Panthers just do not look like a Top 25 team yet. As the season goes on, they probably will be up there.
  • Houston 1-0 AAC: Houston defeated a very good UTSA side in a packed Alamo Dome away. The Cougars’ offense looks electric, but their overall performance was not Top 25. In future weeks, they probably will display Top 25 showings, but not yet.
  • Utah 0-1 Pac-12: Utah should be back in the Top 25 soon. The Utes are really good and were unlucky not to defeat the Gators. The Utes are now the second favorites to win the Pac-12 and has a very good chance to win every game from here on out, and make it to the CFP, barring other teams results and Florida’s.
  • Texas 1-0 Big 12: A win against UL Monroe is always a plus, and to win by 42 points is incredible, but the Longhorns still look like they will struggle to be a Top 25 team. They need more to get into the Top 25.
  • Ole Miss 1-0 SEC: Ole Miss did not look like a Top 25 team on Saturday and that is why they find themselves lower on the list than what many people would expect. But, they still defeated what could be a really good Troy team by 18 points.
  • Kansas State 1-0 Big 12: Kansas State defeated a really good FCS team in South Dakota, 34-0. The Wildcats look good, but they will need more offense to compete in the Big 12.
  • Wake Forest 1-0 ACC: Wake Forest is supposed to be good, but a win over VMI is not good enough to land them in the Top 25, not when other teams had much more inspiring performances against much better teams. They do not deserve this ranking yet, but will most likely earn it as the season goes on.
  • Arizona State 1-0 Pac-12: Arizona State played very well with their new additions in a 40-3 home win over in-state rivals, Northern Arizona from the Big Sky in FCS. ASU has the talent to win the Pac-12, but their program is in such disarray that until they defeat a quality FBS opponent, they still are expected to finish middle of the Pac-12 to below the middle.
  • UCF 1-0 AAC: A big win over SC State 56-10 suggests the Golden Knights are back to a Top 25 program, but more wins are needed to solidify this feeling.
  • Cincinnati 0-1 AAC: The Bearcats need to hope that either Arkansas is really good or that they just had an off game. Either way, it will be difficult for the Bearcats to recover given that Group of 5 teams often do not get a second chance for the CFP, and until last year, never got any chance. Being undefeated was basically a pre-requisite, but they still have a lot to play for.

Conference Rankings:

Conference: Out of Conference Record

  1. SEC: 14-1; Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, South Carolina, LSU, Vanderbuilt
  2. Big 12: 9-1: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas
  3. Pac-12: 9-3: USC, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, UCLA, Utah, Arizona State, Oregon, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Washington State, Colorado
  4. Big Ten: 8-0; Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Maryland, Rutgers
  5. ACC: 10-2; Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh, Wake Forrest, Florida State, NC State, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College
  6. Mountain West: 9-5; Air Force, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming, Boise State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Colorado State, Hawaii
  7. AAC: 4-7; Houston, UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa, Memphis, South Florida, Temple, Navy
  8. Sun Belt: 8-6; Old Dominion, South Alabama, James Madison, Appalachian State, Louisiana Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Southern Mississippi, Troy, Marshall, Texas State, Louisiana Monroe
  9. MAC: 5-7; Ohio, Toledo, NIU, CMU, EMU, Miami (OH), Akron, WMU, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Kent State, Ball State
  10. C-USA: 6-10; WKU, UTSA, FAU, UAB, FIU, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Rice, MTSU, UTEP, Charlotte
  • Independent: 3-6; Notre Dame, BYU, Liberty, UCONN, Army, NMSU, UMASS

Photo from ESPN

The Solomon Islands Repress Freedoms and PNG Territory is Under Threat

The Solomon Islands recently went into a deal with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that would allow the PRC to send “police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement” to the country for various reason including “maintaining social order” and “protecting people’s lives and property”.

The Solomon Islands have tried to downplay the worries many in the International Community and especially at home have displayed in the Solomon Islands.

The Pacific is very Christian and pro-democratic. Most people here are against the increasing advances of the PRC to gain a hold of the political and business spheres in these island nations because they fear communist control and eventual corroding effects it will have for their freedom to worship, and their freedom to speak, amongst many other rights such as their de facto and de jure ability to elect their leaders.

Yet, the Solomon Islands have recently upped their media censorship by threatening to ban foreign journalists who are not “respectful” by claiming many engage in “racial stereotypes” when documenting the Chinese question. They claim this is due to Sinophobia and are waged at those who wish to engage non-White nations and cultures that are not democractic.

But, many in the Solomon Islands have been pushing back against their government since they switched their One China Policy from recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the PRC. And the government has been consistently suppressing the freedom of the press to usurp control. They do not want others in their maritime territory like the Malaitans to have more power than they already do, but they also wish to curb other dissent. The Malaitans come from the second island in the country, Malaita.

This recent example of media censorship wishes to curb dissent on what is most likely, corruption by the Solomon Authorities that most Solomon Islanders are against.

The reaction against the Chinese does not come from Sinophobia, rather it comes from legit abuses of power by the CCP. For example, the people have no issues with the Taiwan Chinese having influence. The framing of this as Sinophobia is a way to justify their repression by clouding their true motives. And, by stating that foreign reporters are concerned because the PRC is a non-White country, they will have to explain why Solomon Islanders themselves feel the same way and are not concerned about “Whiteness”. And, their allegations that these journalists are concerned with a non-democratic culture is true and very alarming for the Solomon Islanders who wish to preserve their democratic institutions. These allegations should not even be addressed, but have to be because many will play into these allegations of Sinophobia.

Lastly on the topic of the Solomon Islands is the fact that the Solomon Islands Prime Minister used language that suggested that democracy and Chinese culture are incompatible, thus already displaying his use of CCP language to communicate. This is despite the fact that Taiwan is fully democratic and functions much higher per capita.

But, now we move onto Papua New Guinea and the threats there.

There are now reports coming out of Australia about an Australian billionaire wishing to sell his private islands, the 21 atolls of the Conflict Islands, a part of Papua New Guinea.

Currently, he wishes to sell to Australian interests at a reduced price, but people connected to CCP interests are among the prospective buyers, and Australia is not engaging as much and nor are any allies or individuals with ties to allied nations.

This is a bid deal. If CCP aligned forces would be on these islands now, the current Australian owner would raise complaints and Papua New Guinea would simply state they are following the law. But, with a CCP aligned owner, the Papua New Guinea government would most likely have to fight in court, and it would be seen as Papua New Guinea fighting the CCP and be framed as Papua New Guinea engaging in Sinophobia, instead of Papua New Guinea simply administering their neutral private property laws.

While a CCP aligned individual would not mean these islands become PRC owned or ruled legally, it does mean that effectively, there could become legal standing for CCP aligned security forces to be allowed onto the islands such as private security. And while Papua New Guinea may seek to fight this, it would effectively create a conflict Papua New Guinea will want to avoid. Enforcing the law against an Australian billionaire and a citizen of an ally nation is much easier than against a citizen and effective representative of a foreign foe.

Even if Papua New Guinea wished to enforce their rules, the CCP-aligned ownership could allow CCP-aligned forces on the islands before anyone knew anything, and by that point, it would become too difficult to move them out.

There could also be mass pro-CCP immigration which could affect voting or business ventures. This happens in the USA, but the US has a much larger population.

Lastly, it could just become a port for CCP exploitation, and without forces on the islands, could prove too difficult to control.

And in any of these events, the amount of time it would take the courts to settle these disputes may give the CCP enough time to accomplish their goals and make any previous situation impossible to revert back to.

One of these events at the very least is likely to happen and that is why many are worried. These islands are close to the Solomon Islands and Australia and thus provide an immideate security risk to others as well.

Therefore, despite private islands being the equivalent to owning a house in legal terms, in reality, it is the fact that they become so remote making law enforcement difficult. And, powerful nations can exploit this as powerful people do by calling out countries like Papua New Guinea’s bluff. If there is no bluff, this could push for more intervention by the PRC into Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations, and potentially could lead to a battle, at the very least in court. Or, if there is a bluff, it could lead to effective PRC control of islands in the heart of a region traditionally tied the the USA and Australia post World War Two.

These islands would allow CCP to have a deep port too for military ships which is unique for private islands.

And even a greater worry for environmentalists is how important this region is for turtles and plenty of fish populations. From a purely Earth perspective, a change in the status quo is worrying.

In conclusion, these developments this week are troubling because it creates a situation whereby the Solomon Islands may be already losing their freedom of the press due to CCP interests, and a part of Papua New Guinea may become owned by CCP interests. Little by little, the Pacific is losing its American-Australian hegemony, unless these two really start clamping down on these attempts to turn these nations into CCP allies.

Greenland 🇬🇱 Applied to join CONCACAF Earlier this Year

You may know the North American nation of Greenland for the well-known common tale of how Greenland and Iceland were named to confuse future conquerers?

The view from Hotel Angmagssalik over the frozen[-]
fjord in Tasiilaq, Greenland.
ANINGAAQ R CARLSEN – VISIT GREENLAND

Or perhaps, you know Greenland because you really like polar bears and glaciers?

From James Wright Free Press: Polar Bears in Greenland

Or maybe you are a map enthusiast and are drawn to its sheer deceiving size?

Map of Greenland in the World from TUBS (Wikimedia)

There are of course other reasons for knowing Greenland such as their (US) American/NATO Military Bases like Thule Air Base of the US Space Force, as well as for other siginicant or popular reasons such as when former US President Donald Trump offerred to buy Greenland and then Conan O’Brien in went to Greenland.

But, unless you are a team handball enthusiast, I doubt you know Greenland because of sporting excellance.

Suffice to say, there are many fun facts to know about Greenland, but their sports scene is almost completely unknown to the common person.

But, why is this?

Due to its political classification as a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark, or in other words, a non-sovereign state, Greenland like other effective dependencies are not automatic shoe-ins for the world governing bodies. And therefore, Greenland often does not feature in major sporting events and often does not even have the chance to.

For example, they are not an IOC member and cannot compete in the Olympics, they are not a FIFA (association football) member and cannot compete in the World Cup, let alone World Cup Qualifications, and they are not members of FIBA (basketball), FIVB (volleyball), UCI (cycling), ITTF (table tennis), and plenty of other sporting federations that even the most obscure nations like Montserrat and Anguilla tend to be a part of.

The reasons for this are that nations like Greenland often have to have extra reasons to be admitted into these great sporting federations because they lack this independence so crucial to the way we understand national teams today. And therefore, any splots on their record and Greenland are almost guaranteed not to be allowed to join.

Despite these limitations, many national associations exist in sporting federations like FIFA that are in the same or similar political situations to Greenland.

For example, US-Territory Puerto Rico is one of the best baseball nations on the planet, and they compete independently of the USA in international baseball and most other sports like their famous basketball team too. They are also an IOC and FIFA member.

Another example would be French Polynesia usually denominated using the name, Tahiti, its biggest and most popular island. Despite being a French administrative division, Tahiti competes in most sports from FIFA to FIBA to the IOC. In fact, for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, Tahiti will host the surfing competition.

Lastly, and most notably in FIFA are the home nations of the UK, in the same status as Greenland as constituent countries, but of a different sovereign country. These are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland who all compete as different nations in FIFA due to historic and talent reasons. These nations are all part of Great Britain in the IOC so for Olympic Football, they compete as Great Britain, with Northern Ireland players able to choose between Great Britain or Ireland.

And, like these home nations, other constituent countries already exist in FIFA too such as those of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Aruba.

And closer to home are the constituent countries a part of the Kingdom of Denmark that are FIFA members: Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

Only in Greenland’s (Danish) and Sint Maarten’s (Dutch) cases are constituent countries not members of FIFA and even in Sint Maarten’s case, their soccer association is a CONCACAF member.

So, what makes Greenland’s and Sint Maarten’s case different?

Timing!

For example, in UEFA’s case (Europe), UEFA created a rule at the turn of the century that made having statehood membership in the UN a requirement. But, those that were already members or already applied to be members did not have to worry about this ruling. As such, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands continued to be members. Denmark and the Netherlands, despite being constituent countries as well, are seen as sovereign-states in this context because if their other constituent countries did not have national teams, then these two would still compete under these names and their flags as the sovereign-state. As is, most people view these national teams in this way. So, they do not really count for this conversation.

In addition, this allowed Gibraltar to become a member in 2016, because Gibraltar had applied for membership in 1999 before the rule change.

But, Greenland did not apply before the turn of the century, and therefore Greenland is not eligible for UEFA membership.

Therefore, Greenland is now looking to CONCACAF which makes the most sense anyway, considering the nation is in North America. This is why they have submitted their application to join CONCACAF earlier this year.

However, CONCACAF requires a 3,000 seat stadium and a certain distance between the stadium and an international airport, which the current national stadium does not provide. Luckily, Greenland is expected to have a domed stadium that would fit these requirements. They just need the funding. And, Nuuk International Airport is expanding which will close the distance. With CONCACAF stamp legitimacy, funding will be easier to obtain too.

While the new domed stadium is being built, Greenland would have an opportunity to play in Canada, the USA, or even Iceland similar to how other nations have played in neighboring nations like Gibraltar did in Portugal until 2020 (competitively).

As to their political status, Greenland should be completely fine as many national team members are less politically independent within CONCACAF and many of those nations have been admitted recently such as Bonaire last decade. Bonaire is a special municipality of the constituent country of the Netherlands with inside the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so its admission signals that Greenland politically has a high chance to earn CONCACAF membership.

But, then there is the geographical and competitive structures. As to the first point, the tale of Greenland’s and Iceland’s names, this has to do with why Greenland has failed to earn both CONCACAF and FIFA membership.

Up until 2004, FIFA required nations to have a natural grass pitches which Greenland was incapable of growing. Most of Greenland’s pitches were sand and gravel.

However, since 2004, FIFA allows nations to use specified and approved artificial turf as a playing surface which Greenland started to put into their soccer communities in 2010, and at their current national stadium in 2016. Now there are many more all over the island.

In terms of competition, despite their league being very short, only a week long, their competition actually lasts much longer regionally to get to this national level due to geographic reasons. The nation is the world’s largest island geographically, and there are not many transportation options that are safe or do not cost a lot. In other FIFA nations like Liechtenstein, their national championship is not very interactive either because unlike Greenland, Liechtenstein only has a Cup. Their clubs play in the Swiss Leagues for league competition. These comparisons bode well for Greenland’s application to FIFA and the potential allegations waged at them that could be used as reasons to preclude them from FIFA membership.

Furthermore, there are over 39 clubs and 5,000 players, in a nation of more than 55,000 people when looking at Greenland Football. This means around 10% of the country plays association football, a very high number that surpasses the likes of Guatemala which often ranks toward the top of the list of association football players per capita, usually only behind Germany.

These numbers are much more impressive than many CONCACAF and FIFA members, so these are good numbers to present to FIFA and CONCACAF.

Therefore, Greenland does look likely to become a CONCACAF member, especially if their new dome is even more planned out and CONCACAF is able to see real validity in these claims.

Not only this, but Greenland has a talent level superseding many in CONCACAF already according to Danish coaches such as their head coach who has said that Greenland performs at a Danish 3rd tier level. Once Greenland achieves CONCACAF membership, this level of play is expected to increase as the Greenlandic people will have more funding to build more infrastructure to play more, and will be able to better recruit their diaspora to their national team, such as those based in mainland Denmark.

And, with regards to FIFA, Greenland appears to have what it needs to join, outside of one important factor missing, and that is that FIFA has an independent country restriction now too.

Yet, there are no disputes about Greenland’s political status and therefore, it is highly unlikely that a Greenland application will draw much push back. The only pushback will be from other nations in similar positions wishing to be included who will use Greenland as a reason they should be included.

However, outside of a few sovereign states that are not member nations of FIFA like Monaco for example, most of these other would be FIFA members have less self-governance than Greenland, leaving a good argument for FIFA to use against letting in more of these nations. Only the Dutch constituent country of Sint Maarten has an equivalent status to Greenland and is not a FIFA member, as well as Niue (New Zealand) which is in another peculiar non-sovereign country status.

Therefore, Greenland’s application status is very likely to be accepted, at the very least by CONCACAF, especially if these new improvements to their footballing infrastructure are as true as they advertise. And as a CONCACAF member, Greenland would be very close to earning FIFA membership, if not inmideately.

This would not be completely foreign to Greenland though.

Greenland is one of North America’s best team handball nations and is a member of the IHF. This allowed Greenland to qualify for the 2001, 2003, and 2007 World Championships.

These exploits may not be likely to be matched in association football, but with more investment, there is a good chance we could see Greenland at least try for these seemingly unattainable goals.

For now, the Greenland Football Association (KAK) is independent and competes in various competitions like the Island Games. They used to be a part of CONIFA, a FIFA like federation for non-FIFA member nations such as Kiribati, Northern Cyrpus, Easter Island, Hawaii, Chagos Islands, and Kárpátalja.

Greenland Football Association (KAK) from the KAK webiste

FIFA Bans the All Indian Football Federation

FIFA has banned the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) which means India will not be allowed to compete in any FIFA or Asian Football Confederation (AFC) competitions for this indefinite period of time.

Why was India Banned?

India was banned “due to undue influence from third parties, which constitutes a serious violation of the FIFA Statutes.

This third party was the Indian Supreme Court who had disbanded the AIFF earlier this year in May, due to their delayed elections for new leadership that were scheduled for December 2020. FIFA and the AFC responded with an ultimatum that would include an amendment to AIFF statutes and planned elections for 15 September 2022 latest.

The Supreme Court had set up a 3-man Committee of Administrators (CoA) that included a retired Supreme Court judge and on 3 August, the Supreme Court ruled that the AIFF needed to conduct a swift election. The CoA also are now controlling the Federation per Supreme Court orders over the AIFF Executive Committee.

These actions banned the AIFF because according to FIFA rules, member national federations like the AIFF for India must be free from legal and political interference in their respective countries. Currently, the Supreme Court appears to be in control of the AIFF.

From: AIFF

When did the Ban Happen?

The ban happened 15 August.

What are the immideate ramifications of this ban?

The immediate ramifications are that the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 that was scheduled to be hosted by India in October is removed from India for now.

From: FIFA

In addition to this, Indian National Teams for either men’s or women’s and for all age groups will not be able to play in FIFA or AFC matches while the ban is in place.

This also applies to Indian clubs playing in AFC or FIFA competitions.

From: AFC Champions League; Mumbai City FC (India) celebrate their 2-1 win over Air Force Club (Iraq) in the AFC Champions League Group B. This was the first AFC Champions League Group Stage win by a club from India.

There will still be able to be competition within India though, so the domestic club season will continue, such that the Durand Cup and Indian Super League will still be played.

What needs to happen to lift the ban?

FIFA and the AFC had created a road map with Indian Football representatives following the issues earlier this May with Supreme Court interference. They had set up a path for the AIFF to hold elections and truly regain their independent and free governing status.

However, following this August Supreme Court interference, FIFA in conjuction with the AFC issued a statement: “AIFF was to call for a special general assembly in the first week of August 2022 to approve the new statute worked upon with FIFA, the AFC and the Indian football community. Unfortunately, we have been informed that the Supreme Court’s hearing held yesterday on the situation of the AIFF allegedly resulted in deviations to the aforementioned roadmap. If this is considered to be true, it would irrefutably jeopardise the mutual understanding which was displayed so far on the steps forward.

Therefore, in order for the AIFF to have their suspension lifted, the AIFF must regain their free and independent administrative function and thus their executive committee needs to be reinstated and replace the CoA. This is what FIFA wrote: “The suspension will be lifted once an order to set up a committee of administrators to assume the powers of the AIFF Executive Committee has been repealed and the AIFF administration regains full control of the AIFF’s daily affairs.

Who is to blame for this debacle?

According to many across the Indian Football community, the main person to blame is Praful Patel, the former AIFF President. He stayed in office past his term without elections and this is what propelled the Supreme Court to make their decisions and cause their interference.

Many in Praful Patel’s opposition accuse him of seeking the President of the AIFF office for life, without challengers. He had been in charge for 13 years, despite there being a limit on only three four year terms.

Praful Patel is also the person who is alleged to have written the letter that would ban the AIFF from FIFA and it is rumored he was even part of the FIFA panel that unanimously banned the AIFF from FIFA.

And now, the CoA has filed a petition of contempt of the court against Praful Patel due to his activities to undermine the Supreme Court’s rulings. In addition to working from with inside FIFA and through media channels, Praful Patel also has been engaging with the state football associations in India to use their collective force to upend the CoA control of the AIFF to demand a re-implementation of AIFF Executive Committee control.

But, the Supreme Court still interfered in the AIFF affairs which is clearly against the rules. Therefore, despite Praful Patel allegedly being in the wrong, the Supreme Court is completely in the wrong for interfering so much.

However, how is a country supposed to enforce their own national federation’s rules if the national federation does not? Unfortunately, the proper channels often lead to inaction for many years. Nonetheless, the proper channels must be gone through because or else, you leave federation statuses up to the whims of politics, and many countries are very authoritarian. This would risk the independence and freedom of national football associations/federations in the future if India, a democratic and republic, would be allowed to have third parties via legal or politics interfere in their own association football federation.

Conclusion:

An agreement needs to be reached fast so that the AIFF might be allowed to negotiate to continue hosting the U-17 Women’s World Cup this October, and so that all the other national teams and clubs can continue to develop with competition from outside India.

As of now, it appears that the quickest way would be to put the AIFF administration back into power.

But, in the long term, if some of these actors are this bad and corrupt, it may be best to continue this disagreement until a fair agreement is reached.

In my opinion, I would bring the AIFF back in charge, host the U-17 World Cup, and then re-engage with this power struggle in Novemeber during the 2022 FIFA World Cup when India will not be playing meaningful international football much.

From: Zee News; Indian National Football Team celebrates their 0-0 2022 World Cup qualifying draw against defending Asian Champions and 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar. This result was an encouraging sign for the national team as they performed well against a World Cup level team.

El Salvador Football Federation on Verge of FIFA Ban

El Salvador’s Football Federation (FESFUT) has been receiving pressures to change their leadership from INDES, the Salvadoran Sporting Federation of which President Bukele’s half-brother is the president of.

INDES is a governmental institution in charge of most of the major sports federations since 1980, but the sports federations are supposed to be almost completely autonomous and INDES is supposed to be highly decentralized. However, just recently, a disciplinary or ethics court tied to INDES held a session where they suspended 7 Executive Committee Directors of FESFUT for not adapting to the new Salvadoran governmental statutes that require sports federations and organizations like FESFUT to comply with governmental orders. As a result, INDES has replaced these directors with their own Normalizing Commission.

This is tied to an investigation by El Salvador’s Attorney General on money laundering allegations waged at FESFUT. Police have even entered the premises of FESFUT offices.

The Salvadoran Football Federation sees these undue pressures as political interference, as does CONCACAF and FIFA.

CONCACAF and FIFA also only recognize the 7 Directors who were suspended, and not INDES’s Normalizing Commission.

Therefore, INDES has only until 25 July 2022 to re-institute the 7 directors, and let go of their Normalization Committee, or else FIFA will hold their own investigation that might lead to the suspension of El Salvador from international football!

Whether or not the Attorney General has to stop their criminal investigations too is not yet known.

FIFA and CONCACAF both have made absolutely clear that member federations must be outside of political pressures, similar to a country’s Red Cross/Red Crescent organization.

This means that the football federations should really act as an independent extension of the nation outside the purviews of the government or political organization in the nation in question. In other words, the national team is not just an extension of the President or King or Supreme Leader.

But, INDES’s president stated that the disciplinary or ethics court is completely independent of the El Salvador Government and INDES was merely only responded to this independent court’s decisions. FIFA and CONCACAF would probably disagree on this court’s independence as well.

Furthermore, already, three straight days of top division football matches have been canceled as referees do not have the endorsement to officiate and thus they have not showed up. INDES has set up their own under-21 league with exceptions for three over-21 players as a response.

One must understand too that El Salvador has had issues with corruption due to money before in 2018 when their national team coach was suspended by FIFA for match fixing, although it was not to throw a game, rather it was to incentivize El Salvador to win or not lose by a lot via a third party to help his native Honduras who would benefit from a good El Salvador performance. And, earlier in last decade, El Salvador suspended 22 players for match fixing such as a 0-5 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup and a 1-2 loss to the USA in 2010.

So, El Salvador already has a history in investigating criminal behavior with people in their Football Federation.

However, a few deep questions must be asked from both sides.

One, is this part of the growing political tensions by the USA to put pressure on El Salvador to re-engage with the economic community and the IMF and World Bank under the US Dollar, as well as to stop cozying up to the People’s Republic of China which is paying for El Salvador’s new national football team’s stadium? If true, this would suggest that FIFA has now become a political wing of the USA itself which many allege following the US-led arrests of officials like Sepp Blatter, the ignoring of President Trump’s political pressures on the rest of the national federations to vote for the USA-Mexico-Canada 2026 FIFA World Cup bid, and the latest suspension of Russia from the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite football federations having supposedly been free and independent of the politics in a country. It appears that if this theory is correct, that the USA may be trying to crush the soft power a national football team brings a nation. Considering that El Salvador is embarking on a new path with Bitcoin and new allies, as well as are competing better in numerous of sports most notably their favorite sport of football, it would be mightily astute of the USA to try and put a stop to the improvements of El Salvador’s football program because it would decrease President Bukele’s popular appeal giving the two political parties the USA has balanced so well for so long a boost to regain a lead in the polls for the next election and subsequent elections. Just think of the campaigns: “President Bukele’s failed Bitcoin experiment, increasing authoritarianism, and nepotism was bad enough, but now he has kicked our La Selecta out of football! Not even football is free from the grasps of the Bukele Clan!”

Two, is this part of the growing trend of authoritarianism of President Bukele? This is a real question many people in the region will want to ask and if true, FIFA and CONCACAF are making the right move. President Bukele is known to have brought in soldiers into Parliament to get a bill passed, has overiden precedents by stocking up the court which has changed the term limits from only one term in a row, to two consecutive terms of five years each allowed, and has recently been instigating a crack down on gangs that many consider to be another rendition of government brutality and overreach as allegations suggest these are violent and indiscriminate!

But, these first two questions are probably not as likely as the third question that must be asked, as these first two questions are riddled in conspiracy and potential hearsay, even if they are the more fun and partisan questions to ponder.

This third question is, is this really just part of President Bukele’s crackdown on crime thus shining a further question onto the gray areas in sports federation laws?

IOCs and FIFA federations are most notable and most popular in this field and we often see federations punished for political interference all the time, but it often comes with much controversy. For example, with this case, many Salvadorans who overwhelmingly support President Bukele understand that for centuries, El Salvador has been pillaged by corrupt officials and monopolistic business dealings that have concentrated wealth at the top and left none for most of the other people. And, the international community has facilitated this under the USA’s Monroe Doctrine since 1843, allowing the USA to dictate policy in the area. When the USA has not, the Soviets and other Marxists like Venezuela and Cuba took a crack, and they promoted quite awful and corrupt policies that exist in their countries today and Nicaragua under the Ortega regime which they created.

Therefore, is FIFA being part of the problem here if the Salvadoran Football Federation really is corrupt and really is stealing money from the people?

Sure, every countries’ Red Cross, IOC, FIFA federation, and even their ITTF Federation for you table tennis fans is supposed to free of political intervention, but not criminal intervention! If Osama Bin Laden was the leader of the Saudi Arabian Federation, and all the money from the Saudi League was being funneled to Al-Qaeda who continued to bomb places in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, I think that would be appropriate for Saudi Arabia to investigate and suspend the leaders of the Saudi Federation. This case is of course a fictitious example.

But, likewise, if the Russian Government was forcing its players to make pro-War signs against Ukraine and firing people based off of their opinions on President Putin, that would be a case where the Russian Government should stay out of the way of the federation. This is also a fictitious example.

Therefore, I think what is most appropriate in this tense case is for there to be two investigations.

One, El Salvador’s government should be able to continue to investigate the Salvadoran Football Federation as if they are committing crimes like money laundering, that is really bad for an already impoverished country.

Two, FIFA should be able to investigate this investigation to see if it is political or if it is criminal.

Then, if FIFA comes to a conclusion, they should tell El Salvador whether they can continue their investigation and keep their FIFA membership, or whether they have to re-institute the 7 suspended members and stop their political pressures if FIFA determines El Salvador’s government is interfering politically into the Salvadoran Football Federation.

If El Salvador does not comply and they are found guilty by FIFA for interfering politically, then El Salvador’s federation should either be suspended and re-instituted right away to allow for competitive play, or simply be suspended for a year past the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and then re-instituted with changes possibly in time for them to finish their group play in the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League.

All parties have a vested interest in keeping El Salvador FIFA-approved. El Salvador’s reasoning is simple, they want to contend for the World Cup and other events like the Gold Cup and Nations League like any other nation. FIFA’s reasons are because they want more nations to play to grow the sport and make more money, and to do this, they also have to make sure most nations which are highly corrupt and borderline authoritarian have a way to compete in the World Cup so that the World Cup really is the world’s cup. Plus, FIFA strives on underdogs and El Salvador is one of the nations expected to Qualify for the 2026 World Cup for just the third time in their nations’ history and given their small population and their struggles they have gone through specifically during the Civil War in the 1980s, El Salvador in the World Cup would create a great story line giving more countries hope to keep pumping in more money to try for World Cup glory. Plus, there are over 2 million Salvadoran-Americans and therefore, an El Salvador at the 2026 World Cup would probably feature high attendance. For CONCACAF, they should want El Salvador competing because they are one of CONCACAF’s strongest nations both historically and presently. In the 2021 Gold Cup for example, El Salvador played very well against the Asian Champions, Qatar, and probably should have tied but had bad calls against them. In 4 years time, El Salvador is expected to be much better, especially with the rise in Salvadoran diaspora recruitment happening mostly with American-born Salvadorans who often play in leagues like the USL Championship, the second division of US Soccer, and the MLS, the highest division.

Hopefully this issue gets resolved because it appears to be very important to all parties, but they need to all work together to make sure El Salvador is well for their quests for 2026, as well as other competitions even sooner.

Plus, we must remember women’s football, different age groups, and futsal and especially El Salvador’s very good beach soccer team this might effect. With rising trends in Salvadoran beach tourism and their own prestigious beach soccer cup they host, the growth of beach soccer would be severely elevated with more integration into El Salvador, but a suspension would do the opposite. Plus, crypto-currency companies are a big advertiser in professional football and right now, El Salvador and Miami are the main places holding it up, and coincidentally, Miami is where CONCACAF’s headquarters are. So, for football as a whole, it is better for El Salvador to stay in the World Football Community.

The World Baseball Classic is Back!

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is finally back after having to postpone the 2021 edition due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The 2017 edition was the most successful yet with over 1 million in attendance according to some figures and over 24,000 average attendance, quite high for a tournament that featured two stadiums below this amount: the Gocheok Skydome (16,813) in Seoul, South Korea for Pool A, and Estadio Charros de Jalisco (16,000) in Zapopan (Jalisco), Mexico for Pool D. The other two stadiums used in the First Round were the Tokyo Dome (42,000) in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park (36,742) in Miami (Florida), USA. The viewership was even more spectacular with pure numbers from the USA showing that from 6 March to 12 March was the most watched week on MLB Network ever at the time. Overseas, viewership was up all over from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and Japan. Puerto Rico had over 70% of the TVs watching the WBC Final against the USA while the WBC was the most popular showing on TV in Japan during these games. Merchandise was up too as well as revenue generated at the games and through television. The list goes on and on, but basically, everything was an improvement from the last WBC and the money made exceeded 100 million US Dollars!

The First Round saw some major surprises in Pool A, with newcomers Israel topping the Pool at 3-0, while the Netherlands finished 2-1. Baseball blue bloods South Korea finished 1-2 and Chinese Taipei finished 0-3. This was a great story for baseball in the Middle East and for the wider Jewish Community as it displayed the best parts of baseball and that is that no matter what you look like or who you are, what is important is your ability to play this great game! Israel were the underdogs, but came out as the Group Victors.

From The Denver Post

Pool B was close between #2 and #3. Japan dominated finishing 3-0 as expected, and PR China finished 0-3 as expected. But, Cuba and Australia were quite even, with Cuba barely edging out Australia 4-3 in the deciding third group game for both teams.

Pool C was a lot less close than expected because Canada failed to show up. But, because they were Canada, everyone knew it was going to be a difficult group because of their potential, despite finishing 0-3. The Dominican Republic dominated both Canada and Colombia, and won a close one with the USA to go 3-0, while the USA barely defeated Colombia 3-2 and then also defeated Canada to finish 2-1 in the group and advance.

Pool D was the most exciting! Puerto Rico finished 3-0, while Italy, Venezuela, and Mexico all finished 1-2. However, Mexico finished 4th in the tiebreaker on run against during defensive innings played. There was lots of confusion. And Mexico felt extra bad because they had given up 5 runs to Italy in the Top of the 9th to lose 9-10 in their first game. Venezuela won the tiebreaker decider over Italy 4-3 to advance.

The Second Round was even more exillerating with Pool E being at the Tokyo Dome and Pool F being at Petco Park (40,162) in San Diego (California), USA.

Pool E saw Cuba lose all three games, while Japan won all three. The Netherlands finished 2nd due to their 12-2 win over Israel.

Pool F saw Puerto Rico win all three games, while Venezuela lost all three. The USA and Dominican Republic game was thus the deciding game in Pool F to see who would finish 2nd and advance to the Semi-finals and this game did not disappoint. It was back and forth and even had a catch over the wall by the USA to secure an out and save a home run. The USA would win 6-3 and advance.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune

The Semi-finals and Final were held at Dodger Stadium (56,000) in Los Angeles (California), USA, the largest baseball stadium in the world!

The Semi-finals pitted the Netherlands verse Puerto Rico and the USA verse Japan.

Puerto Rico won a close game 4-3 to continue their undefeated streak making their second WBC Final in a row.

The USA upset Japan 2-1 to reach their first ever WBC Final!

The Final was set in the City of Angels, the Entertainment Capital of the World!

Over 51,000 people came to the Final and there were many USA and Puerto Rico fans present, as well as fans of the other nations, especially Mexico.

Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, threw out the first pitch.

The Final not only featured the second highest number of attendance with rain expected, but also featured a record number of viewers, including the most viewed Spanish language telecast of a baseball game in the USA ever, as well as the most US viewed WBC game so far!

The USA defeated Puerto Rico 8-0 to win their first World Baseball Classic Championship.

From New York Times

It was a tournament to remember that brought the world together to celebrate the game of baseball.

So, what do we have to look forward to in the 2023 World Baseball Classic?

Who are the nations playing?

Where are the games?

When are the games?

The 2023 World Baseball Classic will feature 20 teams: the USA, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Italy, PR China, Israel, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia, and then 4 Qualifiers yet to be determined.

The Qualifiers will happen with two different groups, Pool A and Pool B. Each of these groups will feature 6 nations with 2 of these nations each Qualifying for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Pool A will be played in Regensburg (Bavaria), Germany at Armin-Wolf-Arena (3,100-11,548) from 16-21 September 2022 and will feature Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Great Britain, and South Africa.

Pool B will be played in Panama City, Panama at Rod Crew National Stadium (27,000) from 30 September to 5 October 2022 and will feature Panama, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

From WBSC/WBC

The 2023 WBC will be played from 8 March to 21 March 2023.

Pool A will be played at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium (20,000) in Taichung, Chinese Taipei and will feature Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, the Netherlands, and Qualifier #1 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool B will be played at the Tokyo Dome (42,000-55,000) in Tokyo, Japan and will feature Japan, Australia, PR China, South Korea, and Qualifier #2 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool C will be played at Chase Field (48,405) in Phoenix (Arizona), USA and will feature USA, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Qualifier #3 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Pool D will be played at LoanDepot Park (37,442) in Miami (Florida), USA and will feature the Dominican Republic, Israel, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Qualifier #4 from the Qualifications.

From WBSC/WBC

Quarterfinal #1 will feature the Top 2 nations from Group A and Group B and will be played 15 and 16 March at the Tokyo Dome.

Quarterfinal #2 will feature the Top 2 teams from Group C and Group D and will be played on 17 and 18 March at LoanDepot Park.

The quarterfinals will feature a knockout style Semi-final whereby the Pool A winner will play the Pool B runners-up and the Pool B winner will play the Pool A runners-up, while the Pool C winner will play the Pool D runners-up, and the Pool D winner will play the Pool C runners-up. The winners of the Pool A and B games will play each other in one final while the winners of the Pool C and D games will play each other in one final. All nations in these finals will advance to the Semifinals at LoanDepot Park.

The Semifinals will be played 19 March and 20 March with the Quaterfinals #1 winner playing the Quaterfinals #2 runners-up and the Quarterfinals #2 winner playing the Quarterfinals #1 runners-up.

The Final will be 21 March with the two semifinals winners playing to win the 2023 WBC!

From WBSC/WBC

So, how does this tournament stack up against the 2017 WBC?

For one, the total viewership should be higher as there are more games and nations. A 2021 WBC would have exceeded 2017 numbers in average viewership for sure, but there might be a lack of increase due to a lack of momentum. Therefore advertising will be important and if the WBC uses other networks like they are talking about, then their US numbers will probably be higher.

For total attendance, it should be higher because there will be more games and nations, but, they will not be using Dodger Stadium and LoanDepot Park, formerly Marlins Park, is limited in size. So, average attendance and total attendance might be lower. But, on the flip side, the smallest stadium will be Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium at 20,000, and the other stadiums will be +40,000 with LoanDepot Park just below 40,000. So, total and average attendance should be higher.

Furthermore, while we may not know who the Qualifier nations are yet, just looking at the groups as is, it is clear that the geographic distribution between the groups works out brilliantly.

Having the USA and Mexico in Phoenix should mean sell outs or at the very least, +30,000 attendance for these games. Canada should not draw too large of crowds by itself, but against Mexico and against the USA, the North American rivalry should be there. The viewership for these games though should be really high! There are a good amounts of Colombians in Arizona and nearby California, Nevada, and Utah, but not even close to the amount there are in Florida where Colombia played last time in 2017. So, expect less Colombian fans and the games between Colombia, Canada, and the Qualifier team may not be as high.

Pool D features nations whose diasporas all have large amounts in Florida and especially the Miami area. Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, and DR Dominicans fill the streets of Miami and if they get a Nicaragua or Panama, well then it will be a big Latin baseball party as these nations would all be baseball first nations in an area their diaspora calls home. Miami is not consider the Capital of Latin America for no reason. However, adding in Israel is an amazing call as there are many Jewish people in Florida and Miami especially, and many are from New York and are huge baseball fans. Due to the rivalries between the nations involved, there should be huge viewership too.

Pool B will feature the Japaenese-Korean rivalry in their sport, baseball! By this game itself, the viewership should be highest out of any WBC pool in Tokyo from the First Round. But, then, there is the Japanese-Chinese and Korean-Chinese rivalry on the line. This should keep attendance and viewership high. Then, Japan verse Asutralia should be highly attended and viewed as Australia is considered a top baseball nation and the Japanese really respect the growth of their baseball and will expect a good game.

The Chinese Taipei group will probably not feature high attendance , but because it will feature the first game of the Tournament, viewership should still be lowest of all the pools, but it should be respectable. But, with the relative ease of this group compared to others, Chinese Taipei, Italy, the Netherlands, and Cuba should all find themselves in a competitive group meaning that each nation will be in play for the Second Round longer most likely. This should keep the attendances higher and the viewership higher. If Chinese Taipei is playing well, expect average attendance to be around 15,000, and maybe even more.

The Second Round will most likely have lower total viewership and attendance, but the average viewership and attendance will probably increase. This will be due to less games, but each game being more important.

The Championship Round will most likely have less attendance both in total and average, but the viewership is likely to be higher if new television contracts are worked out and if greater advertisement is out there. In the end, the 2023 WBC should be have higher numbers overall, but would be better served placing the Championship Round in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium again due to the more central location between Asia and the Americas and the higher capacity and the demographics that features more variety, especially for the Asian nations.

UCLA and USC Big Ten Moves are a Sad Day for the Pacific and Unnecessary – From a UCLA fan

The UCLA and USC moves to the Big Ten are a short term investment that leads to a destabilization of Pacific Coast athletics.

Growing up as a Bruins fan, we all watched those games in Corvallis and Seattle, in Pullman and Tempe, seeing our heroes put on the gold helmet to fight to become the “Best Team in the West”.

For us as Bruins, our culture of winning has always been tied to the teams that elevated our success, and those were the Pacific schools around us.

The Pac-10 for some seemed too much of a change due to it including schools in Arizona, not on the Pacific, but with it, we got some great rivalries and football shrines. Tempe was home to the Cardinals and Sun Devils for so long, as well as the Fiesta Bowl, and ASU always filled a team with great athletes. U of A proved tougher on the basketball court overall, but for the Bruins, we feared traveling to Tuscon, especially for Football! For some reason, we just struggled there. And as a whole, the state had some very good baseball and softball!

So, the Arizona schools became the new normal.

As for the Washington and Oregon schools, they were our fierce Northern competitors. Washington was always the team with the most promise because they were in Seattle and on Lake Washington! As far as an on-campus stadium went, there was hardly a better place to play. Washington also proved to be like Tuscon for us Bruins, but for basketball!

Washington State in the meantime, was just such an odd place for us in the Pacific and really anywhere with the Polouse. It is hard to explain how strange it is, but you basically just see so many rolling hills in what appears to be the middle of nowhere until suddenly, you get to the border city of Pullman, with the Idaho Vandalls across the street. Washington State proved to be the true agricultural school of the PAC and displayed a completely different Washington to the Huskies.

Oregon and Oregon State were amazing places to travel too. Playing in Oregon in the Fall and seeing the Autumn trees turn all different colors with the flowing rivers and sometimes, snow too, was such a welcome site to the often overpopulated Pac-12 cities and the very dry Pac-12 cities. And Corvallis was even more unique because unlike Eugene, it truly was a small-town, not just a college-town. With the investment of Nike into the state home to the Willamette River and Crater Lake, these schools soon became home to the best and most technologically advanced athletic company the world has ever seen. And this would have never been possible without the Pac-12.

Lastly, there were the Northern California schools, our immortal enemies besides ourselves in LA. Us 4 dominated so much of the Pac-12 and so much of the NCAA. Between Stanford, UCLA, USC, and UC Berkeley, we could have one of the highest Olympic gold medal tallies, have probably more NCAA D-1 titles than the rest of the country combined (most likely an exaggeration), have a super high GDP, and be one of the most powerful and innovative countries. Why? Because we were California, the home base of the West! These schools challenged us academically and athletically in a way no other school could, not even the football juggernaut Alabama or the academic juggernaut Harvard could.

And that left us with Los Angeles! Los Angeles was not only the home of the West and the Pacific, but also the home of the world! It presented the world with the best athletes and entertainers with two Olympics held at the Coliseum and two World Cups held at the Rose Bowl (men’s and women’s), plus Hollywood and Disney to bring us the movies that instilled in us the greatest tool in sports, never giving up. UCLA Football really took this to heart so many times with their Washington State and Texas A&M comebacks proving to be some of the most exciting examples of perseverance college football has ever seen, as well as UCLA basketball’s historical 2006 comeback against Gonzaga. LA featured the best athletes in football, basketball, baseball, track and field, volleyball, water polo, and so much more like gymnastics, and most likely featured these top stars because from day one, we were taught to dream and to shoot for those dreams! Our music industry created the energy and our movie industry created the belief.

This was the super conference for so long, and the super region! Our conference went past just sports, it was a conference of partnerships, of innovation, of commradery.

It was the conference that created the first bowl game, the Rose Bowl.

It was the conference that won the first NCAA Basketball Championship with Oregon, and then went on to feature the best team of all-time in UCLA!

It was the conference that featured Hollywood, Disney, SpaceX, McDonalds, Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Nike and so much more! It featured the home for the twenty-first century.

And, it was improving too in many ways. Tempe was becoming a hub for all sorts of businesses and tech with ASU’s Business School rivaling that of the best! We saw the additions of Utah and Colorado, and while this may have not been the best for the longevity of the conference, we ended up getting two great schools that fitted in much better than expected, and added another Olympic stadium with the Utes as well as another city that provided the home to a world community in Salt Lake City!

This conference was historic!

Remember going to the Staples Center to see UCLA play the Lopez Brothers at Stanford in the Pacific Life Pac-10 Conference Tournament Final?

Remember seeing the Rodgers brothers dominate with the Beavers and become a household brand while Pete Carroll’s USC dominated the rest of the country?

These are the memories of the West, of the Pacific, where we belong!


Do not congratulate the athletic directors or the deans or presidents or anyone at UCLA and USC for what they did because that took no intelligence! They were never brought in to put Los Angeles in the Midwest.

Rather, true leadership would have not abandoned the schools that made their own schools into the national powerhouses the Big Ten would want anyway.

We do not belong in Ohio or Pennsylvania or New Jersey in the Fall. We belong in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado! We belong in the West!

How can we be the “Best Team in the West” if we do not play there anymore?


True leadership would have found a way to make the Pac-12 work, and loyalty and tradition would have stayed with it to see it regain national prominence. In a conference that brought you the internet, it could figure out a way to bring the Pacific together once again into the Conference of Champions it had always been.

I know the last few years had been tough. But, I also thought our Pac-12 family meant more than just a paycheck. I did not realize the people that ran the Los Angeles schools did not think of the West as their home. I did not realize that in an ever globalized world, that we would think it was best to leave a network that connected the world’s most important ocean to the world’s most important countries, companies, and innovative human capital.

We were a conference that had a connection to each other. That connection, that familial bond of over 100 years, something 100 million dollars could never buy is now gone, and for what?

Now when our schools compete in the National Tournaments and playoffs, we will no longer be representing the West, the Pacific! We have abandoned one of the most important parts of our cultural connection we shared with many of our surrounding states. These are our neighbors and family. These are the people we lean on when we need help the most. And it was not necessary to leave them. We could have spurred the Pac-12 back into national prominence. Or have we lost our sense of leadership and become followers and bystanders to the demise of our own region?

The downfall of the Conference we love is upon us and our leaders are the ones that initiated it!

Updates on 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying and All the Teams Qualified for the FIFA World Cup

2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Matches during the June Window:

Europe (UEFA):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Second Round: The Group Runners-Ups from the First Round advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers. The Top 2 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League Group Winners, who are neither Group Winners or Group Runners-Ups, advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers, which is comprised of three four team playoff single-elimination semi-finals, with randomized chosen hosts for the semi-final and final. The three final winners of these four playoff semi-finals Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. For the June 2022 window, only Pathway A was still to be decided, with only Wales-Austria Semi-final having been played.

Path A:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Semi-finals:

Scotland 1 Ukraine 3

Final:

Wales 1 Ukraine 0

Analysis:

Wales: Wales were fantastic to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, having beaten Austria 2-1 in March at home in the Path A Semi-finals, and then defeating a good Ukrainian side 1-0 at home in the Path A Final in June. However, despite this victory in June, Wales did not look very good, only winning from an own goal by Ukraine. Ukraine dominated the match outshooting Wales 22 (9) to 10 (3) and holding 68% of the possession. In Wales other matches, in the UEFA Nations League A Group 4, Wales has suffered a terrible June Window! Wales lost to Poland away 1-2, but in an even match where Wales was only out possessed 44% to 56% and outshot 14 (2) to 15 (3). Their next Nations League match saw Wales lose at home in the last moments to the Netherlands. The Netherlands had been leading 1-0 since the 50th Minute, and then Wales scored late in the 90th Minute +2, only for the Dutch to score in the 90th Minute +4 to win 2-1! Wales were better on the shot count 8 (3) to 8 (2) and only lost out on the possession battle 43% to 57%. Wales next match was home to Belgium, and in this match, Wales scored a late goal in the 86th Minute to draw 1-1, outshooting Belgium 14 (2) to 9 (4) and being out possessed 36% to 64%. Wales last match of the June Window saw the Welsh lose an away match against the Netherlands 2-3, again in the dying moments. The Netherlands went up early 2-0 (17th and 23rd Minute), before Wales scored in the 26th Minute to keep the score 1-2. Wales then scored in the 90th Minute +2, only for Memphis Depay to score for The Flying Dutchmen in the 90th Minute +3. The Dutch dominated the stats outshooting Wales 22 (7) to 9 (4) and earning 60% of the possession. Wales currently sit at the bottom of their Group with 1 Point, while the Dutch have 10, Belgium has 7, and Poland has 4. While this is a tough group with all national teams being 2022 FIFA World Cup teams, it does signal that Wales is not a strong team in its current form. But, likewise, this June Window also displays that Wales can hang with any team. The Welsh are good enough to beat and lose to most teams in Group B for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and they will be looking to get more competitive matches in time to play the USA, IR Iran, and England. Wales count on Real Madrid super star Gareth Bale to provide leadership and attacking ability to this Group B as arguably the best player in the Group. This will be only the second time for the Welsh to feature in the FIFA World Cup, their last edition being in 1958. However, Welsh Football predates most national teams and Wales has won the pre-cursor to the World Cup many times, and henceforth, does have a history of being the best football nation in the world on certain years.

Ukraine: Ukraine was the most talented team in Path A, and their elimination from the 2022 FIFA World Cup leaves Ukraine wondering what can their national football program push for next. Ukraine messed up having not won enough in the First Round, finishing 2-6-0. Had Ukraine won some more of those matches, they most likely would have never had to go through this extra qualifier. Ukraine were the better side than Wales, but failed to display it on the scoreboard. Ukraine’s June Window featured a 3-1 away victory over Scotland in which the Ukrainians dominated the shot count and possession, and their 0-1 loss to Wales away in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In the UEFA Nations League B Group 1, Ukraine had a good away victory over the Republic of Ireland 1-0 where the shot count was almost even, and the possession count favored Ukraine. Ukraine followed up this win with a 3-0 thrashing of Armenia with all goals coming in the 2nd Half. Ukraine’s final match in the June Window was a 1-1 home draw in Poland against the Republic of Ireland in which the Irish struck first in the 31st Minute, but the Ukrainians answered back in the 47th Minute. Ukraine dominated the possession, but the shot count was almost completely even. Ukraine sits on top of their Group 1 with 7 Points, followed by Scotland (6), the Republic of Ireland (4), and Armenia (3).

Scotland: Scotland should be disappointed with their loss in the Path A Semi-final, as the Scottish had enough firepower to really win that match but never showed up. Scotland’s loss at home that led to elimination from the 2022 FIFA World Cup was met with a good display in the UEFA Nations League B Group 1. Scotland started off with a 2-0 thumping of Armenia at home, where the Scottish dominated the shot count 27 (6) to 4 (3) and held 72% possession. However, the Scottish probably should have won by more. Scotland’s next match was a 0-3 loss away to the Republic of Ireland, in a match which saw the Scottish dominate possession and total shots. But, the Republic of Ireland were much more efficient dominating shots on target and goals, the most important statistic. Scotland finished out their June campaign with a 4-1 away win over Armenia, where this time, the Scottish were quite efficient as they only had 14 shots and 7 on target, but scored 4 goals. They also held 70% of the possession. Armenia, however, were also better in the attack having 9 shots and 4 on target, and were actually up after the 6th Minute until Scotland scored a 14th Minute equalizer, followed by goals in the 45th +1 Minute, in the 50th Minute, and in the 53rd Minute.

Asia (AFC):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Fourth Round: The Third Round Group A and Group B 3rd Place Teams play each other in a one-off match held in neutral Qatar with the winner advancing to the the Intercontinental Playoff to play the South American Fifth Place for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Fourth Round:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

UAE 1 Australia 2

Analysis:

Australia: Due to Australia having advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff with Peru, we will analyze Australia in the next section.

UAE: The UAE started their June Window at the end of May with a home 1-1 draw against The Gambia. This match was not impressive for the Emiratis who often demand that their nation at least play at a level resembling World Cup level. And this is what the Emiratis delivered against the Aussies in the Fourth Round one-off match in Qatar, where the Emiratis and Australians had been tied for most of the match, barring 4 minutes where Australia led 1-0 (53rd Minute-56th Minute) prior to the UAE’s 57th Minute Goal! The UAE dominated possession 55% to 45%, and the shot count was relatively even, 6 (4) to 8 (4). The UAE played above their level against the Australians, but unfortunately, this was not enough as the Socceroos scored in the 84th Minute to win this match and advance to the Inter-confederation Playoff. The UAE would be eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but their hopes to Qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the USA, Mexico, and Canada should be rekindled given how good their performance was against Australia, and given that the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be expanded to 48 teams. There is a lot to look forward to for Emirati Football.

FIFA:

FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs:

The FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs (also called the Intercontinental Playoffs) featured the Asian Fifth Place Team, Australia, playing the South American Fifth Place Team, Peru, and the North American Fourth Place Team, Costa Rica, playing the Oceanian First Place Team, New Zealand, with both matches happening in neutral Qatar in a one-off match. The Winners of these two matches Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup!

FIFA Inter-confederation Playoffs:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Australia 0 (5-4 in Penalty Kick Shootouts) Peru 0

Costa Rica 1 New Zealand 0

Analysis:

Australia: Australia must be overjoyed to have Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the Socceroos making a 6th straight appearance at a FIFA Men’s World Cup. Despite having to comeback, Australia started off their June Window in dominating campaign defeating Jordan 2-1 in a friendly in Qatar, outshooting the Jordanians 15 (5) to 5 (1) and out possessing their opponents 60% to 40%. While the scoreline may not show it, this match was a really good display by Australia. Australia, however, did not make their Fourth Round easy as the Emiratis dominated possession and kept the shot count almost even. The Australians would score in the 53rd Minute, only for the UAE to score in the 57th Minute. The deciding moment came in the 84th Minute when Ajdin Hrustic scored the match winning goal for the Socceroos who went onto win 2-1. Australia’s last match of the June Window came against Peru in the Inter-confederation playoffs. Australia was picked by most experts to lose and were the clear underdogs. However, despite this, Australia came out firing on all cylinders against their South American opponents. Australia would out shoot Peru 11 (2) to 10 (1), and held 47% of the possession. Australia’s defense and overall play allowed the Aussies to extend the match into Extra Time and then Penalty Kick Shootouts. Australia’s Andrew Redmayne would be subbed in for the Penalty Kick Shooutout as a goalkeeping specialist. This proved to be pivotal as Andrew Redmayne would save the 6th shot from Peru and Australia would Qualify via a 5-4 victory on penalty kick shootouts after a 0-0 result through 120 Minutes. Australia displayed their hunger to keep surviving and advancing in these two World Cup Qualifying one-off matches, as well as their poise. This should serve them well in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Australia will join France, Denmark, and Tunisia, and given their display in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and their display in the June Window, Australia should really believe they can finish Top 2 in Group D.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica started off their June Window very suspect, having lost away to Panama 0-2 in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group B. This was payback as Costa Rica took the Inter-confederation spot instead of Panama earlier this year. Panama dominated Costa Rica 15 (4) to 7 (1) on shots, and held 60% possession. This thorough domination by Panama signaled a weakness in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s next match was a 2-0 win over Martinique, and while it was a win, it was very unimpressive, as Costa Rica and Martinique practically shared the same shot count, and Costa Rica needed a goal until the 87th Minute to secure a 2-0 lead and thus the eventual win. Thus, Costa Rica went into the Inter-confederation Playoff Semi-final with not a lot of confidence from the surrounding supporters. Costa Rica struck first in this match 1-0 via a goal by Joel Campbell in the 3rd Minute. However, after this, the Costa Ricans mainly defended. The Costa Ricans were out shot 4 (3) to 15 (4) and out possessed 33% to 67%. Costa Rica successfully did defend the rest of the match, mostly, and kept the 1-0 lead until the final whistle, as Costa Rica Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup! Costa Rica should look to improve and not become complacent. With their own domestic league, there are plenty of up and coming players and Costa Rica should develop more of these players and not be afraid to start them over the old guard. Costa Rica started off horribly during their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, but over this last year, Costa Rica has morphed into a super team having lost only one match in 2022, winning 8 of the 9 other matches even if in not so pretty circumstances such as being outplayed by New Zealand. Costa Rica should expect nothing less than to advance out of their Group E, but in reality, Spain, Germany, and Japan will prove very difficult and almost no one besides the Costa Ricans will have Costa Rica advancing to the knockout rounds from this Group, with many probably picking Costa Rica to finish last in Group E.

Peru: Peru had a very bad June Window for the expectations placed on to them following their 5th Place finish in the South American Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Peru was expected to dominate their June Window, but they did anything but that. Peru would play New Zealand in a friendly in neutral Spain in a match which many would have expected Peru to win by multiple goals in comfortable style, but instead, Peru had to wait until the 69th Minute to go up 1-0, and only won 1-0, with the shot count being 8 (1) to 2 (2) with New Zealand having more shots on target, but Peru dominating the total shots, and with Peru having 63% possession. Peru should have scheduled another friendly but their federation seems to have made a huge blunder, because playing New Zealand was not good enough preparation for Australia, and Australia would defeat Peru in penalty kick shootouts to eliminate Peru from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Peru should be massively disappointed and from the looks of the supporters, they are! In Peru’s defense, it did look like Australia’s goalkeeper for the shootout had stepped across the line with both feet before Peru’s first miss, while Peru was up, and if this did happen, then a re-kick should have happened. But, on second look, it appears at least one foot stayed on the line. Either way, Peru should have won in regular time.

New Zealand: New Zealand will most likely Qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup because next World Cup, with 48 teams, Oceania gets 1 automatic team in the World Cup, plus 1 spot in the Inter-confederation Playoffs. Now, while I do believe Australia should come back to Oceania because that is the continent they are in, it appears that Australia likes the Asian challenge and thus, New Zealand will probably get this top spot. As it is, New Zealand proved very good in their June Window. New Zealand narrowly lost to Peru in neutral Spain, and then tied probably the 7th best team in Asia right now, Oman, 0-0 in neutral Qatar, followed by their narrow 0-1 defeat to Costa Rica, North America’s 4th best team, in the Inter-confederation Playoff. New Zealand will fill robbed to have not tied Costa Rica as they had a goal called off from a VAR check to tie the match at 1-1, and thus would lose 0-1 as a result, eliminating them from 2022 FIFA World Cup. But, New Zealand’s play against these three teams suggests that New Zealand could have been competitive at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is really of no surprise when you see that their roster includes some Serie A, Turkish Süper Lig, and Premier League players, including one of the best strikers in national team football, Newcastle United’s Chris Wood. And, the last time New Zealand was in the World Cup finals, New Zealand went undefeated and were the only team to do so, as they finished 0-3-0 in 2010.

National Team Updates for the national teams who already Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the previous windows of Qualifications:

Europe (UEFA):

Germany: Germany looks to be a very competitive team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup coming off of a June Window which saw the 4 time World Cup Champions go 1-3-0. Germany was playing in the UEFA Nations League A Group 3. Germany opened up against Italy drawing away, 1-1, having dominating the possession with 68%, and outshooting the Italians 12 (4) to 11 (2). Germany’s next match saw the Germans draw at home 1-1 against England. England dominated the shot count 15 (6) to 10 (6), but the Germans once against dominated possession with 63%. Germany was up from the 50th Minute, until the 88th Minute when England’s Harry Kane scored a penalty kick goal. Germany’s next match was a come from behind draw away to Hungary, where Germany actually was only down for 3 minutes. Hungary scored in the 6th Minute, and then Germany scored in the 9th Minute, and that was it, 1-1. Germany dominated the possession with 68% of it, but did not do much with it, as the Hungarians dominated the shot count 11 (7) to 6 (1), and probably should have won. This Hungarian side is very good right now, and had they played like this from the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Europe, Hungary would also be going to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Germany’s last match was a 5-2 home win over Italy where Germany outshot the Italians 17 (9) to 14 (6), and out possessed Italy 66% to 34%. Germany sits in 2nd Place in Group 3 with 6 Points, behind Hungary with 7 Points, and in front of Italy with 5 Points and England with 1 Point. Germany will join Spain, Japan, and Costa Rica in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and will be favored to advance to the knockout rounds. Depending on their results in September, Germany will either be favored #2 or #1 in the Group, but right now, Spain is probably favored to top Group E.

Denmark: Denmark had a very good June Window going 3-0-1 to lead their UEFA Nations League A Group 1, with 9 Points, followed by Croatia with 7 Points, Austria with 4 Points, and France with 2 Points. Denmark started off with a 2-1 comeback away win over France thanks to 68th Minute and 88th Minute goals by Andreas Cornelius. Denmark, however, was thoroughly outplayed with France dominating the shot count 19 (6) to 8 (5), and holding 60% of the possession. Next, Denmark would defeat Austria away, 2-1, after a late 84th Minute winning goal by Jens Styger Larsen. Denmark, however, was again outshot 17 (1) to 8 (6), and out possessed 55% to 45%. Denmark’s next match was a 0-1 loss at home against defending World Cup Runners-up, Croatia, a match in which Denmark actually outshot Croatia 14 (1) to 9 (2), but Croatia held 52% possession. Denmark’s next match was a 2-0 home win over Austria, their best match yet where Denmark out shout the Austrians 15 (6) to 9 (2) and held 54% possession. Denmark has been playing so well over the last 4 years, advancing to the 2020 UEFA European Championship Semi-finals, having finished 9-0-1 in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying for Europe, and now, so far leading their 2022-2023 UEFA Nations League Group. But, these results were not as dominating as they probably should have been. Denmark continues to have good attacking efficiency, minus in their defeat at home to Croatia, but the Danish continue to be outplayed overall. Denmark will be in Group D at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, will they will play defending World Cup Champions France, Australia, and Tunisia. Denmark looks like the clear favorites to not only advance from the Group, but also win the Group. However, their overall match play suggests that these other 3 nations can defeat Denmark, and unlike in the European Championships, only the Top 2 can advance and Denmark will need to play better, especially as France will surely be improved by that time.

France: France did not play well during their June Window as evident from their last place standing in their UEFA Nations League A Group 1, with only 2 Points, behind Austria (4), Croatia (7), and Denmark (9). France is finally not getting all of the 50/50 calls, and with this has seen France struggle to win. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, France was bailed out by bad calls against Australia in their opening match, and in other matches most notably against Croatia in the Final. These bad calls allowed France’s lack luster play to be enough. But, France should be playing better as they had against a lot of the teams in that 2018 FIFA World Cup, as they had in the 2016 UEFA European Championship, and most recently in the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League which they won. But, France should not be depending on a penalty kick decision from a referee in order to win or not lose. France should really be winning more of their matches, and in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Europe, we saw that had other nations done better themselves like they should have, France would have had to go through that extra round of qualifiers. France opened up their June Window with their 1-2 loss at home to Denmark. Ironically, France actually did dominate this match, but lost. Their next match was a very even match where the French tied Croatia 1-1 with the shot count being in favor of the Croatians 8 (5) to 7 (5) and the possession being in favor of the French, 52% to 48%, but unlike in year’s past, the Croatians would get a penalty kick call against the French late into the match, and Andrej Kramarić scored the goal from the spot in the 83rd Minute. To be fair, Croatia should have won this match and missed many opportunities, but so did the French as well. Still, the point is the French left the match open until the very end, and one call against them meant a win became a draw. Against Austria away, France then had to comeback down 0-1 from the 37th Minute until Kylian Mbappé scored in the 83rd Minute to tie the match at 1-1. France dominated the possession 60% to 40% and the shot count 15 (7) to 5 (4). Then, in their next match, the French lost to the Croatians for the first time, 0-1, in a home match for the French as well. The Croatians got a dubious penalty kick awarded to them very early and Luka Modrić scored the penalty kick to put Croatia up 1-0. The French had a call then go against them that looked like a clear penalty in the box, and thus, bad officiating decisions on just two calls canceled out a French goal and gave Croatia a goal, almost as bad as the officiating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final which gave France 2 goals and canceled out a Croatian goal on a bad no call on a penalty in the box for Croatia. Overall, I think the French would take this tradeoff. The French once again dominated the shot count 17 (4) to 4 (3) and the possession 54% to 46%, but they lacked efficiency in the attack! For the French, generally they have ultimate efficiency like the Danish. France will play in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Denmark, Tunisia, and Australia. While the French were favored to go 3-0-0 before this June Window, now, the French look like they could go 0-0-3 given how good Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia played in June. The worst thing for the French though, is that they held such a huge psychological battle over the Croatians prior to this 0-1 loss as the French had never lost to the Croatians before, despite Croatia having beaten big name teams like Spain and Germany in UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups. This may not seem like a big deal, until you realize that both of France’s World Cup Championships came via a Semi-final victory over Croatia in 1998 and a Final victory over Croatia in 2018. If France meets Croatia in the 2022 knockout rounds, Croatia will be much tougher for France than before.

Belgium: Belgium started off their June campaign horrifically losing to the Netherlands 1-4 at home being outshot 13 (6) to 15 (7) and having equal possession. This loss signaled the greatest weakness for Belgium and that is that Belgium is very reliant on the efficiency of their attack given that their defense is often quite weak, which is usually compounded by their formation that leaves their defense even more vulnerable. Well, the Belgians immediately fixed this attacking efficiency problem and defeated Poland at home, 6-1, dominating the shot count 16 (11) to 6 (2) and the possession 66% to 34%. Belgium’s next match in Wales saw Belgium tie 1-1 in a not so impressive match being outshot 9 (4) to 14 (2) and only having 56% of the possession. Belgium’s next match was also not very impressive, but Belgium did win 1-0 away in Poland with 12 (4) shot to Poland’s 12 (2) shots and 69% possession to Poland’s 31% possession. Belgium displayed a good diversity in wins and draws which is good because it means Belgium is not one dimensional. But, Belgium sits off the pace of their UEFA Nations League A Group 4 with 7 Points, behind the Netherlands with 10 Points, and in front of Poland (4) and Wales (1). Belgium’s goal is to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, so winning this Group is expected. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Belgium will be in Group F with Croatia, Morocco, and Canada. Morocco and Canada did not have good June Windows, but both are still very good, especially Canada who has very good counter-attacking abilities that will test out the often weak Belgium defense. Croatia had a good June Window, but are still not to their 2018 Runners-up level yet, making Belgium and Croatia dual favorites to win Group F as of now.

Croatia: Croatia was spending their June Window in the aforementioned UEFA Nations League A Group 1, where the Croatians has a series of firsts! First, Croatia really started off horribly losing to Austria 0-3 at home in Osijek losing to Austria for the first time in their history having beaten Austria the previous 5 times! Croatia had dominated the possession 61% to 39%, but no the shot count 13 (3) to 14 (8). Croatians were furious because Croatia had looked to finally be getting better following their disastrous 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League campaign. Croatia had not been too impressive these past 4 years, but had done enough to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, for the 2020 European Championship, and to stay in the UEFA Nations League A. Croatia followed up this loss with a 1-1 home draw in Split against France, their archenemies. Croatia barely had an advantage in the shot count 8 (5) to 7 (5), but also barely had a disadvantage in the possession 48% to 52%. Overall, it was an even match, which the Croatians probably should have won given some of their chances. Croatia followed up that performance with a 1-0 win away over Denmark, with Mario Pašalić scoring a 69th Minute match winning goal. The Croatians held the possession advantage at 52% just slightly, and the shots on target 2 to 1, but were outshot in total shots 9 to 14. It was a good away win over a nation that the Croatians tend to do well against. Croatia finished June beating France for the first time ever, 1-0 away! Croatia will take this victory with a lot of confidence that should allow Croatia to dream realistically about winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Croatia were outplayed by France and did win on dubious circumstances where Croatia got a penalty kick call that probably should have not happened, while France did not on a foul that probably should have led to a penalty kick. Nonetheless, Croatia finally won against the only nation in the world that seems to allude them, minus three South American teams, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru, one African team, Tunisia, and one European team, Portugal. Croatia now sits in 2nd Place with 7 Points in Group 1, behind Denmark (9), and in front of Austria (4) and France (2). Croatia will expect to close out September by winning Group 1. Croatia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Group is Group E, with Belgium, Morocco, and Canada. Croatia currently looks like the dual favorites with Belgium, and pending September results, will be expected to advance to the knockout rounds, possibly as the Group Winner. The best news for Croatia is that they beat France. All of the other teams they either know they can beat, or should beat, minus Brazil. Brazil is the only country left that Croatia may have psychological troubles with, but the others Croatia has yet to beat are merely just inconvenient truths than anything else.

Spain: Spain continues to look very solid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Their June consisted of matches in the UEFA Nations League A Group 2. The only glaring issue that Spain keeps showing is their inability to close out wins. This issue showed up in their first match in which they dominated Portugal at home, outshooting Portugal 11 (2) to 7 (2) and holding 61% of the possession, as well as having been up 1-0 from the 25th Minute on. But, Portugal scored in the 82nd Minute, and the match finished 1-1. The Spaniards next match saw the Spanish dominate once again, with 80% possession and a shot count of 13 (5) to 3 (2), but Spain had to come back twice away to the Czech Republic with goals in the 45th Minute +3, and in the 90th Minute. This match showed that Spain is beatable, but their mentality to not lose keeps them always with touching distance of a draw if down. Still, for the domination on the ball and in shots, Spain should have won, and but at least 2 goals. Spain’s next match was a 1-0 win over Switzerland away, in match which Spain scored early in the 13th Minute. Spain held 66% possession, and outshot Switzerland barely 7 (3) to 7 (1). This was a good win for Spain because Switzerland is always so consistently difficult to beat. Spain’s final match this June was a comfortable 2-0 win at home over the Czech Republic, with goals coming in the 24th Minute and 75th Minute, with 76% of the possession and a shot count of 9 (4) to 7 (2). This was Spain’s most complete match of June, a solid victory. Spain leads Group 2 with 8 Points, followed by Portugal with 7 Points, the Czech Republic with 4 Points, and Switzerland with 3 Points. Spain will be playing in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Germany, Japan, and Costa Rica. Spain is a favorite to advance from this Group with Germany, but I think Spain has to be extra careful in their opening match with Costa Rica. Spain tends to have close matches with teams from the Americas, partly because most of those countries have a history of their country, or at least part of their country being under Spain. It serves as an extra motivator, as a rivalry or derby.

Serbia: Serbia had a mixed bag of a June, starting off losing to Norway 0-1 with Norway’s Erling Haaland scoring the match winning goal. Serbia dominated the match, with 13 (5) shots to Norway’s 4 (2) shots, and Serbia held 67% possession at home. But, Erling Haaland is arguable the best striker in the world, a proposition Serbia will not have to face most likely at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and thus Serbia really had to score to get anything from this match and did not. In Serbia’s next match, Serbia made sure to score this time scoring 4 goals and defeating Slovenia 4-1 at home, with 61% possession and 17 (7) shots to 7 (2) shots. This was a World Cup Semi-finalist level display, and not that Serbia is expecting to get that far, but it really was. Serbia does have the talent to win the World Cup, but it definitely is not an expectation for them too. They also have never really been able to put these matches together in the World Cup, not as Serbia, and not under Serbia and Montenegro or Yugoslavia minus a few exceptions here and there. Serbia then went away to Sweden and got a 1-0 win, followed by a 2-2 draw away against Slovenia. Serbia led the shots on target category against Sweden 4-1, and had 56% of the possession, while against Slovenia, Serbia dominated the shots statistics 14 (6) to 7 (5) and the possession 58% to 42%. Serbia finished 2-1-1 in June, and now sits in 2nd Place in UEFA Nations League B Group 4 with 7 Points, behind Norway (10), and ahead of Sweden (3) and Slovenia (2). Serbia will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Brazil, Switzerland, and Cameroon. After the June Window, Serbia appear as the clear favorites for the #2 spot in Group G after Brazil, and in front of Switzerland and Cameroon.

England: England had a bad June Window, finishing 0-2-2. England lost to Hungary away, 0-1, with the Hungarians dominated the shots on target 6-4, but England holding the most possession with 58% and shooting the most in total 12-11. This match was seen as an upset, but what was worrying is how Hungary held in tight with England in every category or bested them. England’s next match was a 1-1 away draw with archenemies Germany, a match in which England dominated the shots 15 (6) to 10 (6), but Germany dominated the possession 63% to 37%. It appeared England was back because an away draw against Germany is always considered quite good. England’s next match was a 0-0 home draw against defending European Champions, Italy, where England out shot (12 (4) to 8 (3)) and out possessed (60% to 40%) the Italians. England should have won this match, but did not. England finished out June with a 0-4 loss to Hungary at home, their worst loss since 1928, and a match in which England actually dominated the shots and possession at 10 (2) to 6 (5) and 69% to 31%. This form England is on is the worst type of form for England, because it is a style of play that will eliminate them in the Group Stage at the World Cup. England appears to be able to dominate, but still lose or draw due to inefficiency, and furthermore, are not able to beat the lower tiers of World Cup quality opposition, while being able to play out draws against the top tiers of World Cup quality. England will play in Group B in the 2022 FIFA World Cup against former British Colony the USA, against fellow British Constituent Country Wales, and against IR Iran. England is still probably considered the favorite to win Group B, but their June window would have gotten them eliminated.

Switzerland: Switzerland started off June with a dominating performance against the Czech Republic on the stat sheet with 63% possession to the Czechs 37%, and with 15 (7) shots to the Czechs 8 (3) shots, but the Czechs won 2-1 at home. Switzerland lost a match they should have won, and this plagued the Swiss into their next match away to Portugal where Portugal won 4-0, with 18 (10) shots to 5 (1), and with 55% possession to 45%. Switzerland then lost 0-1 at home to Spain, with Spain dominating the possession 66% to 34%, and slightly ahead on the shot count at 7 (3) to 7 (1). The Swiss’s last match was a 1-0 home win over Portugal which Portugal actually dominated with 20 (8) shots to 5 (2) and with 58% possession. Switzerland sits 1-0-3 with 3 Points in UEFA Nations League A Group 2 in last place, behind the Czech Republic (4), Spain (7), and Portugal (8). The Switzerland June Window taught the Swiss that they can still beat the big name teams, but that they struggle against the lower teams. Switzerland will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Brazil, Serbia, and Cameroon. Judging based off of June, Switzerland will probably finished 3rd in Group G.

Netherlands: The Netherlands were spectacular in June going 3-1-0 to top Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League A thus far. The Netherlands dominated Belgium 4-0 in an away match followed by a 2-1 late win away in Wales, and a 2-2 draw at home against Poland. In this final match of June, the Netherlands again scored a last minute goal to defeat Wales at home 3-2. The Netherlands will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Qatar, Senegal, and Ecuador, all matches the Netherlands should win, especially after this June Window. The Netherlands sits in first in Group 4 with 10 Points, followed by Belgium (7), Poland (4), and Wales (1). The Netherlands are a very complete team and are supplemented from a very good domestic league.

Portugal: Portugal had a mix bag June, starting off with an away draw to Iberian rivals, Spain, 1-1 in a match which the Spanish mostly dominated. The next match was a 4-0 home win over Switzerland in a very dominating performance for the Portuguese, followed by a 2-0 home win over the Czech Republic in which Portugal again dominated in shots in possession. Portugal’s final match however, was a let down, a Portugal lost away to Switzerland 0-1, with Portugal having the better statistics. Portugal sits in 2nd with 7 Points behind Spain with 10 Points, and in front of the Czech Republic with 4 Points and Switzerland with 3 Points. Portugal will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea. Portugal and Uruguay are the two clear favorites to advance, while Ghana and South Korea both seem quite a ways a way to advance. After June, this expectation looks to be even more true.

Poland: Poland was a side that needed to show elite play to convince critics they were a favorite to advance out of Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Argentina, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Luckily for Poland, both Mexico and Saudi Arabia did not look great in their June Windows, leaving many people to place Poland as the new #2 team in Group C. However, Poland also looked bad, and thus, no one really knows what to make out of the bottom 3 teams in the Group. Poland opened up UEFA Nations League A Group 4 with a 2-1 home win over Wales, having outshot 15 (3) to 14 (2) and out possessed 56% to 44% the Welsh. But, Poland then would lose 1-6 to Belgium away, where Belgium held 66% possession and had 18 (11) shots to Poland’s 6 (2). This signaled two things. One, Poland can be World Cup quality opposition, but two, Poland can lose big to elite nations. But, the other two nations in Group C both showed these same capabilities in June. Poland then did very well to draw 2-2 away against the Netherlands, a match in which the Polish were up by 2 goals. In their final match, the Polish lost to the Belgians at home, 0-1. Poland appears to have improved throughout June, but not enough to really solidify the expectation to finish #2, especially with how consistent Mexico tends to be in World Cup Group Stage play.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Germany
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Spain
  • Serbia
  • England
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Poland
  • Wales

Asia (AFC):

Qatar (Hosts): Qatar did not play any matches in the June Window, a strategy not very smart for any side, let alone one which relies on continuity, familiarity, and chemistry within the team for success. Qatar will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador. Qatar appears good enough to defeat the latter two, but are not expected to. Qatar is expected to finish last in Group A.

IR Iran: IR Iran was supposed to play Canada in a friendly, but it got canceled. Therefore, IR Iran only played one match in June and that was against Algeria. Algeria won this match 2-1 in neutral Qatar. IR Iran will play in Group B at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against England, the USA, and Wales. While Wales and England both did not play particularly well in June, IR Iran are still expected to finish last in this Group, especially after their lack of display in June. Algeria is a good team, but a non-World Cup and friendly Algeria not as much.

South Korea: South Korea had a good and bad showing in the June Window, as South Korea hosted 4 friendlies in South Korea against three South American nations and one African nation. All nations were World Cup quality, but only one of the four Qualified. South Korea would play Brazil first, but lose 1-5. Brazil dominated the shot count 25 (9) to 7 (6) and the possession with 60% to 40%. This loss to Brazil signaled that either Brazil is that good, or that South Korea is not capable of playing the big name nations right now. Either way, it was an eye opener for a well-respected nation in soccer. South Korea would win their next match over Chile 2-0 with 11 (3) shots to 7 (1) and with 52% possession. South Korea’s win over Chile and domination of the stats sheet show that South Korea is capable of comfortable wins over non-elite teams at the World Cup. South Korea’s next match was a 2-2 draw against Paraguay. South Korea dominated the possession with 62% and the shot count 11 (2) to 7 (2), but found themselves having to comeback down by 2 goals, scoring the equalizer in the 90th Minute +3. This match displayed that South Korea has the fight to comeback in matches, signaling that South Korea will be a tough nation to beat. South Korea closed out June with a 4-1 win over Egypt, with 69% possession and 10 (5) shots to 7 (1). South Korea’s obliteration of Egypt displayed that South Korea can dominate the lower tier nations in the World Cup, boosting their chances of advancement with good goal differentials. South Korea will compete in the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Japan in July next. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, South Korea is in Group H with Portugal, Uruguay, and Ghana. South Korea is favored to finish #3 in Group H.

Japan: Japan had a very good June Window until their last match. Japan played in two friendly tournaments put together by the Japan Football Association and Kirin Brewing Company located in Japan. Japan’s first two matches were in the Kirin Challenge Cup and second two matches were in the Kirin Cup Soccer. Japan’s National Soccer Team won their first match 4-1 over Paraguay in dominating fashion, with 28 (10) shots to 10 (4), and with 61% possession. This was a display of a World Cup Champion. But, that feeling would quickly evaporate as Japan lost to Brazil 0-1 in the Kirin Challenge Cup Final, with Brazil dominating Japan in every category, such as shots 21 (5) to 7 (0) and possession at 53%. Then, Japan went onto to play Ghana and dominated them 4-1, with 15 (5) shots to 5 (1), and with 61% possession. Japan followed this up in the Kirin Cup Soccer Final and lost, 0-3 to Tunisia, in a match where Japan dominated the possession with 68%, but Tunisia were far more efficient on shooting with 4 shots on target from 8, while Japan had 0 shots on target from 8. Japan’s first three matches suggested Japan would have a high possibility of getting out of their World Cup Group, but after the defeat to Tunisia, experts will not be as high on Japan. Japan plays in Group E at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica. Japan needs more practice against elite opposition to give them a chance against Spain and Germany, while Costa Rica is a task Japan know they can win. Japan plays in the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship in Japan in July next.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia had a bad June, but only because of their second match, and that is pending how good that opposition may become this next year. Saudi Arabia played Colombia in Murcia, Spain in their first match in June, losing 0-1, but having dominated possession 52% to 48%, and being outshot 5 (3) to 12 (7). Saudi Arabia probably should have lost 0-2, but nonetheless, showed the ability to play with what many would consider to be an elite team or close to elite team, despite having not Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Saudi Arabia’s next match, also in Murcia, Spain, however, was against a nation that is not considered elite by anyone, a nation that as a World Cup side, you should expect to beat. This side was Venezuela, and Venezuela won 1-0, outshooting KSA 13 (7) to 7 (2), while Saudi Arabia did win the possession battle with 59%. Saudi Arabia needs to get much better between now and the 2022 FIFA World Cup if they want to have any chance of advancing past the Group Stage, because a loss to Venezuela where it should have been a worse scoreline is not acceptable. However, Venezuela sometimes goes through eras where they are really good, and maybe this is one of them and we are being too harsh on KSA. Saudi Arabia will be playing in Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland, and after this June, are expected to finish last in Group C.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Qatar
  • IR Iran
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Australia

Africa (CAF):

Ghana: Ghana competed in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage in Group E, and defeated Madagascar 3-0 at home in a dominating display, with 23 (5) shots to 5 (2), and with 69% possession. However, Ghana’s next match saw Ghana draw 1-1 away against the Central African Republic, despite controlling 72% of the possession, as both nations have a very even shot count. Ghana finished the second round of matches in first with 4 Points, followed by Angola with 4 Points, the Central African Republic with 1 Point, and Madagascar with 1 Point. Ghana then competed in the Kirin Cup Soccer, losing to Japan 1-4 in dominating Japanese display, but then played Chile, and would go down to 9 men, but despite this, Ghana kept playing taking Chile into penalty kick shootouts which Ghana won 3-1. Despite Ghana being down to 9 men, Ghana actually coped well with 10 (4) shots compared to Chile’s 11 (1) shots, and with 44% possession. Ghana will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Portugal, Uruguay, and South Korea, will Ghana will be expected to finish last in the Group. And, their thumping loss to Japan and inexplicable draw to the Central African Republic makes Ghana look bad. But, Ghana still is putting up good fights such as against Madagascar and Chile.

Senegal: Senegal had a not very impressive June. Senegal played Benin in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage winning 3-1 at home, with 61% possession and 24 (10) shots to 6 (2). Sadio Mané scored all these goals. Then, away against Rwanda, Senegal barely won 1-0 with a 90th Minute +8 Penalty Kick goal from Sadio Mané. Senegal is currently first in 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage Group L with 6 Points, followed by Mozambique (4), Rwanda (1), and Benin (0). The dependency on Sadio Mané makes Senegal more vulnerable and their lack of good opposition leaves open the question of how can Senegal win. Senegal will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with the Netherlands, Qatar, and Ecuador. As of right now, Senegal is expected to finish #2.

Tunisia: Tunisia is breakout team of the June Window starting off playing in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage Group J. Tunisia opened up defeating Equatorial Guinea at home, with all goals coming in the second half. Tunisia outshot Equatorial Guinea 17 (7) to 3 (1) and out possessed Equatorial Guinea 70% to 30%. Tunisia’s next match was not as impressive as they tied 0-0, away in Botswana. The shot count slightly favored Tunisia (12 (3) to 10 (3)) and the possession also favored Tunisia (58% to 42%), but the scoreline and overall match was even. This was the only blemish on Tunisia’s record for June, as Tunisia would next play in the Kirin Cup Soccer in Japan. Tunisia’s first match in the Semi-finals of the friendly competition, saw Tunisia outplayed by Chile on the stat sheet (15 (4) to 9 (4); 62% to 38%), but Tunisia win 2-0! This was a massive victory for The Carthage Eagles because in the FIFA World Cup, most likely, Tunisia will have to fight against better nations, and will have to be more efficient in order to end up on top on the score board. This type of play will come in handy in Group D at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Tunisia will play France, Denmark, and Australia. This June Window has made this Group much more even, as Denmark is still doing well, Australia and Tunisia are doing much better, and France is struggling, but they still have the most talent in Group D. Tunisia closed out their June Window with a massive 3-0 victory in the Kirin Cup Soccer Final over Japan. Despite the Japanese holding 68% of the possession, the Tunisians were more efficient once again with their shots, 8 (4) to 8 (0). Tunisia now has gone from the second weakest nation at the World Cup from Africa, to the strongest right now. Tunisia leads Group J for 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifiers too, with 4 Points, followed by Equatorial Guinea (3), Libya (3), and Botswana (1).

Morocco: Morocco played poorly against their only World Cup opposition in June, losing in a friendly away to the USA, 0-3. However, despite this loss, Morocco’s stats were good with 47% possession and 22 (8) shots to the USA’s 11 (10). Morocco’s loss signaled that Morocco was not as strong as previously thought. Many people expected Morocco to be turning a corner whereby The Atlas Lions would be battling for the Round of 16 in their fierce Group F at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Belgium, Croatia, and Canada, and ironically, they probably will be but more so because of the other nations’ performances in June or their recent performances, not as much because of Morocco’s June performance. Morocco followed up this friendly rather quite well with a 2-1 comeback home win over South Africa scoring the match winning goal in the 89th Minute, and outshooting the South Africans 29 (10) to 5 (1), and holding onto 64% possession. The Moroccans followed up this match with a 2-0 away win over Liberia, played in Morocco as well. The Moroccans only shot 8 (2) times to Liberia’s 4 (0), and held onto 67% of the possession. Morocco’s goals in this match came in the 56th and 57th minutes. Morocco leads Group K at the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group Stage with 6 Points, while South Africa has 0 and so does Liberia. Zimbabwe has been disqualified and were originally the other nation in this Group. Morocco’s performances seemed wasteful and unimpressive mostly, even though they finished 2-0-1 during June. The expectations are higher than 2 minutes of brilliance against Liberia, and comeback wins against South Africa, in Morocco, but nevertheless, South Africa is a respectable side, so that was a good win. Against the USA, Morocco did not play efficient or very good, but they still have time to fix things with a friendly against Colombia in September, scheduled to be played in France.

Cameroon: Cameroon’s June Window was very strange as they only played one match, in the 2023 African Cup of Nations Qualification Group Stage Group C, against Burundi in Tanzania. The match was considered an away match, and Cameroon dominated Burundi on everything but the scoreboard, with 18 (4) shots to Burundi’s 3 (1) and with 63% possession. However, Cameroon’s inefficiency led to just a 1-0 win for The Indomitable Lions, putting Cameroon temporarily at the top of Group C with 3 points, followed by Burundi with 1 Point, and Namibia with 1 Point. Kenya was disqualified, but were supposed to play in Group C, and were the nation Cameroon was supposed to play first. Cameroon did finish 1-0-0, but it just was not very convincing, and in order to advance out of their very difficult Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they will need efficient attacking against Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland. Currently, Cameroon is expected to finish last in Group G, and this June Window did not change this expectation. Burundi is not a horrible side, and technically, could feature Kevin De Bruyne if he would have chosen Burundi to play for, but he did not, so Burundi should not be this difficult of a side for any World Cup team to beat.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Ghana
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia
  • Morocco
  • Cameroon

North America (CONCACAF):

Canada: The 1 time Olympic Gold Medalists Canadians were expected to do much better in their June Window, but a debacle within the federation between the players and the Canada Soccer Association, meant two friendlies were cancelled against IR Iran and Panama. Canada, therefore, only competed in their CONCACAF Nations League A Group C matches. Canada played Curaçao at home and defeated them 4-0! This was a very good win which saw Canada dominate with 22 (9) shots to 5 (0) and 55% possession to 45%. Curaçao is a very good side in CONCACAF and is often at the level of a very low tier World Cup side, however, lately, Curaçao does appear a bit weaker than this. Still, it was a convincing win for the Canada National Soccer Team. Next match, however, was a 1-2 loss against Honduras, away, in a match with a very tough to play on pitch as Central America and the Caribbean had been experiencing lots of rain making a lot of the pitches very muddy. Canada did out possess Honduras 62% to 38% and did outshoot Honduras 9 (2) to 6 (3), but were less efficient. For Canada, this was a match in which Honduras played like Canada is expected to in the World Cup, which is to rely on the counter-attack and less possession to win matches. Honduras is usually a World Cup quality side, and have been minus their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers where they played very bad. So, in Canada’s defense, they do have the toughest group in the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League. Nonetheless, Canada should be winning their Group, but sit in 2nd with 3 Points, ahead of Curaçao, also with 3 Points, and behind Honduras with 6 Points. Canada does have match in hand though with Honduras and Curaçao. For Canada, we needed to see more and thus, their cancellation of friendlies, and the fact that no matches are scheduled for September as of now, is very worrying for their preparations. Canada will play in Group F at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against fellow Francophone nations, Belgium, Morocco, and Croatia (technically, but not really anymore). This Group appeared wide open, but after June, Belgium and Croatia are once again expected to the top the Group, and mostly because Morocco and Canada did not play as well as expected. In Canada’s defense though, playing away against most Central American opposition, especially in these conditions is almost an impossible task, and so if Canada would have tied or won, this June Window outside of the friendly cancellations would be seen as a success.

USA: The USA played very well in their June Window, opening up with friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay, both World Cup teams with high quality talent. The USA defeated Morocco at home, 3-0, playing very efficiently and accurately having 10 shots on target from 11 total shots, verse Morocco’s 8 shots on target from 22 total shots. The USA also held the possession at 53%. The USA followed up this 3-0 win with a 0-0 home draw against Uruguay, a team on fire that has not lost in 2022, and a team with superior talent to most nations right now. The USA dominated possession with 54%, and had 9 (3) shots to Uruguay’s 12 (4). The match could have gone either way, but USA’s Sean Johnson played very well at goalkeeper, a position that appears to be an issue for the Americans for the first time in quite a while heading into a World Cup. The USA’s next matches were in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group D. The USA played Grenada at home in match which the USA was expected to win by a lot, but only won 5-0. This was a slight disappointment for the Americans, but still, 5-0 over any side, especially one at this level in CONCACAF is impressive. The USA had 25 (10) shots to 3 (0) and 68% possession to 32%. The USA needs to be more efficient to safely advance out of their World Cup Group. The USA’s next match was a difficult one at one of the hardest national team stadiums to play at in the world, the Estadio Cuscatlán in El Salvador. Due to Central America’s and the Caribbean’s extreme rain during that week, USA and El Salvador played on a very rough and muddy pitch, and the Salvadorans did not make life any easier for the Americans with a very rough match, ending with both sides getting a red card. El Salvador went up first, 1-0, due to great awareness to take a shot outside the box on the wing while USA’s goalkeeper, Ethan Horvath, was out of position. However, the USA kept pushing back and in the 90th Minute +1, Jordan Morris scored to level the match up at 1-1. While it was disappointing for the Americans not to win, a draw away to El Salvador is usually a good result given how hard it is to play there, and given how good El Salvador usually is, like right now. The USA currently sit in 2nd place with 4 Points behind El Salvador with 5 Points and in front of Grenada with 1 Point. The USA has a match in hand with both of these sides. The USA will play in Group B at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, against England, Wales, and IR Iran. All of these matches resembled these matches, as Uruguay and England are relatively at the same level, Wales and IR Iran and Morocco are all supposed to be at the same level, and a match away to El Salvador is supposed to simulate the physical and defensive play of El Salvador. With the June window, the USA leaves it with very good experienced gained, and a 2-2-0 record, but one they can improve upon, as against Uruguay and El Salvador, the USA could have won with more chances converted. If the USA can improve, or simply find a better in form striker, and maybe they did with Jordan Morris who has been mostly playing well in wing, the USA will be plenty prepared to win all 3 matches in Group B. As it is, this June Window suggests a 1-2-0 (5 points) finish for the USA, and a top spot in Group B, given how poorly England played, as well as Wales and IR Iran. The USA is trying to schedule some more matches for September against World Cup quality opposition to continue to fine tune their team in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Mexico: Mexico played poorly in their June Window, especially for what is supposed to be a Top 10 nation, and a Round of 16 nation. Mexico lost to Uruguay in a friendly in the USA, 0-3, but actually had better or nearly equal stats with 10 (2) shots to Uruguay’s 10 (4) shots, and with 51% possession to Uruguay’s 49% possession. Then, Mexico played Ecuador in a friendly in the USA, and tied 0-0 with 9 (2) shots to Ecuador’s 9 (1) shots, and with 52% possession to Ecuador’s 48% possession. These were Mexico’s two June matches against World Cup opposition, and it appears Mexico is very inefficient right now. Mexico actually played well in terms of stats. Mexico’s next two matches were in the CONCACAF Nations League A Group A. Group A is actually quite tough and features 3 World Cup level nations when two of these nations feature their best players (they usually do not). These two nations are Jamaica and Suriname who would be quality sides if their best players via Jamaican and Surinamese birth, plus diaspora, always came to play. Recently, Suriname and Jamaica have been seeing a lot of these players come, and in the June Window, Suriname and Jamaica both featured a lot of these players. Mexico would play at home against Suriname defeating them 3-0, having dominated the match with 22 (9) shots to 6 (2), and 59% possession. Mexico then played Jamaica away in very tough conditions with due to the heavy rains experienced in the Caribbean and Central America that week. Mexico went down early from a goal from Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey in the 4th Minute, but in the 45th Minute +3, Mexico scored from CF Monterrey’s Luis Romo. Mexico dominated the match with 18 (7) shots to Jamaica’s 8 (3), and had 63% possession. However, in efficiency plagued Mexico and Mexico would only draw 1-1. Mexico sits in 2nd in Group A with 4 Points, behind Jamaica (5), and in front of Suriname (1). Mexico has a match in hand with both Jamaica and Suriname. While it is true Jamaica tends to be very good, Jamaica did just come off of a 0-6 loss away to Catalonia, a non-FIFA member, but a really good one nonetheless. This happened in May, but it is tough to tell if that is representative of Jamaica, or really one just to write off like Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany. Overall, Mexico’s performance was not a confidence builder. Mexico will play in Paraguay next at the end of August in the USA, but surely, more matches are needed for this Mexican side to play in to their Top 10 level form. Mexico will play in Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, against archenemies (along with USA) Argentina, Poland, and Saudi Arabia. Given the other nations results, ironically, Mexico probably played well enough to finish 1-1-1 (4 Points) and might have done enough to advance. They also should have gone 3-0-1 in June Window and if that had happened, or even just 2-1-1 instead of 1-2-1, I think Mexico would have played an equivalent to a 2-0-1 record given their Group. Mexico is therefore still probably the expected #2 team, but it is more because of how bad the other nations did in the June Window, than how good Mexico did. Mexico has a lot to improve upon and needs more matches, because this was poor play and they still look like a Round of 16 team given the contexts. Imagine if they improve, how good they can look creating more confidence to go further.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica

South America (CONMEBOL):

Brazil: Brazil played two friendlies over the June Window in Asia, against South Korea in South Korea, and against Japan in a friendly tournament called the Kirin Cup Challenge in Japan. Brazil defeated South Korea 5-1 in dominant fashion with 25 (9) shots to South Korea’s 9 (6) and with 60% possession. Against Japan, Brazil only won 1-0 with only 53% possession, but still dominated the shot count 21 (5) to 7 (0). Brazil’s two matches in June show that Brazil is truly the #1 team in the world right now, but also that they can improve. While Japan and South Korea are both good nations, Brazil gave up too many shots against them in both matches for how good Brazil is. Furthermore, Brazil should have controlled the Japan match more, as they only held 53% possession, and only scored 1 goal from a penalty kick in the 77th Minute. Therefore, Brazil needs to be more efficient, and better with passing having only completed 454 passes. Brazil, however, did take home a friendly trophy, the Kirin Cup Challenge. Brazil will play in Group G at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Brazil’s form of having won 5 and drawn 1 in 2022 suggest Brazil will win all of these matches in Group G, and Brazil is expected to win Group G and advance! Brazil is also predicted to be the favorite to win the World Cup, and with extra friendlies/sort of World Cup Qualifiers coming up in September against Argentina and IR Iran, a continuation in this form will only improve Brazilian confidence. Brazil just needs to warn against complacency.

Argentina: Argentina continued their spectacular form defeating Italy 3-0 in the 2022 Finalissima or CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions in neutral England at Wembley Stadium. This was a one-off match between the current South American Champions and current European Champions. Argentina’s dominance in the match with 56% possession and dominating the shooting 17 (10) to 7 (3) suggests that Argentina may be back to an attacking juggernaut at the elite level, and a very good defensive team. This was an official trophy and cup competition, a super cup like event too, so it was a good competitive match for the Argentinians. Argentina shoed a diversity in goal scorers too, with Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martínez scoring in the 28th Minute, PSG’s Ángel Di María scoring in the 45th Minute +1, and Juventus’s Paolo Dybala scoring in the 90th Minute +1. This is very good news for Argentina who in the past, has depending on Lionel Messi too much to score, even with the rest of the side they had that was often loaded with talent. However, in the next match, PSG’s Lionel Messi displayed that he could still put Argentina’s team on his back scoring 5 goals against Estonia in a 5-0 friendly victory in neutral Spain with 24 (10) shots to 4 (2) and with 79% possession. Oddly enough, despite Estonia being one of the worst sides in UEFA, Estonia had a good June Window in their UEFA Nations League D Group 2, with a 2-0 home win over San Marino and a 2-1 away victory over Malta, plus a 0-0 friendly draw against Albania. So, Argentina’s 5-0 win over Estonia should not be taken as the reason Argentina is the #2 favorite according to many experts to win the World Cup, rather that should be Argentina’s 3-0 win over Italy and 5-1-0 form in 2022, but it should not be completely overlooked. Still, Argentina needs more quality matches and as of now, has their technically rescheduled FIFA World Cup Qualification match against Brazil in September, that sort of acts as a friendly given the strange circumstances. Argentina should probably schedule one more match against high quality opposition before the 2022 World Cup in addition to Brazil. Argentina will play in Group C at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, all matches Argentina is expected to win. However, Argentina are rivals with Mexico, Poland and Argentina are sort of rivals due to the amount of Polish people in Argentina, and Saudi Arabia borders the host nation and will almost be like secondary hosts. So, while Argentina should win all three matches, it may prove more difficult than expected. Nonetheless, Argentina is expected to win Group C and advance. In addition, Argentina are seen as the #2 favorites for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as of right now, especially given the poor play of other nations most notably in Europe.

Ecuador: Ecuador had a successful June Window, but a little underwhelming too. Ecuador played 3 friendlies against Nigeria, Mexico, and Cape Verde. Nigeria barely missed out on the World Cup due to the antiquated away goals rule against Ghana, while Cape Verde barely was eliminated in the second to last round of Qualifiers by Nigeria, losing out on points 11 to 13 due to Nigeria’s 2-1 comeback win away against Cape Verde earlier in that round’s Group C. Many people may not know that like basketball, Cape Verde is becoming very good in football, and have finished 7th, 11th, and 15th respectively at the 2013, 2015, and 2021 African Cup of Nations. It is true Cape Verde failed to qualify in 2017 and 2019, but before 2013, Cape Verde had never Qualified for the African Cup of Nations. Nigeria does not need any more introductions of course, having been one of Africa’s best and most consistent teams for a long time now. Ecuador’s other opponent was Mexico, who also Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is historically North America’s best nation, and despite a recent poor form, is still a top team in North America. Ecuador played all of these matches in neutral USA. Ecuador won their first match against Nigeria, 1-0, in a very even match with Ecuador having 51% possession and 12 (5) shots to Nigeria’s 14 (4). Ecuador went up in the 4th Minute and held onto the led the whole match, a very impressive feat against quality opposition in Nigeria. Ecuador’s next match was a 0-0 draw against Mexico that was also very even, with both having 9 shots, but Mexico having 2 on target verse Ecuador’s 1 on target, and Mexico having 52% possession. Ecuador’s last match in June against Cape Verde saw Ecuador win 1-0 via a penalty kick goal in the 38th Minute. Ecuador was not efficient enough in this match, having 16 (7) shots to Cape Verde’s 3 (1) shots, and holding 61% possession. While this match was Ecuador’s best, it should have been and Ecuador should have won by more. Ecuador will play in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against the Netherlands, Senegal, and Qatar. Most people expect the Netherlands to finish #1, and Senegal to finish #2, however, most people expect this #2 position to be tightly contested. After June’s window, now, it is even expected to be more tightly contested leaving many to believe there is no clear #2 in Group A. Ecuador was smart too, because each match simulated one of their matches in Group A, with Nigeria simulating Senegal and Qatar (mostly Senegal), Cape Verde simulating Senegal and Qatar (mostly Qatar), and Mexico simulating both the Netherlands in terms of skill, and Qatar in terms of atmosphere. Mexico has immense home support in the USA and effectively acts as a host nation. However, Nigeria is not quite as good as Senegal, and maybe not even as good as Qatar, and neither is Cape Verde, and then Mexico is not quite as good as the Netherlands right now. With these results in June, Ecuador probably would have gone 2-0-1 in Group A and advanced as the #2 team. Ecuador still needs more practice though and Ecuador is the type of team that plays well against elite opposition, so more elite opponents would be best for Ecuador prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Uruguay: Uruguay is on unbelievable form having gone 6-1-0 in 2022! Outside of Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is the third hottest team right now in national team football. Uruguay played 3 friendly matches in June, all against North American opposition. Uruguay’s first match was a 3-0 win against Mexico in neutral USA, although it is not really that neutral to play Mexico in the USA because Mexico has lots of fans there. Uruguay did not dominate this match in stats though with the shot count 10 (4) to 10 (2) in favor of Uruguay, but the possession 51% to 49% in favor of Mexico. Uruguay still won though due to their attacking efficiency. In their next match away against the USA, the Uruguayans settled for their first and only non-win of 2022 thus far, a 0-0 draw, where the teams were very equal to one another, with Uruguay dominating the shot count 12 (4) to 9 (3), but the USA dominating possession 54% to 46%. Given that Uruguay is sort of the Atlético Madrid of national teams except Uruguay scores a lot, this lack of possession and shooting advantage is not too much of a worry, rather the results really do matter most even when analyzing stats. Uruguay’s last match of June was a 5-0 win over Panama, a match in which Uruguay outshot Panama 20 (6) to 7 (1) and out possessed Panama 66% to 34%. This match was a very good win for Uruguay because they beat Panama better than how they should have, resembling a 2018 England, heck, a 2018 Uruguay. However, this was Panama’s effective B team, hence the poor display like in the 2018 World Cup when Panama faced many injuries. Still, Uruguay’s recent form and June Window suggests a 2-1-0 (7 Points) Group Stage record. Uruguay will play in Group H at the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Portugal, South Korea, and Ghana, and will be expected to finish #1 or #2 with Portugal and advance to the knockout rounds. Uruguay did not even have their best player through this June Window as Atlético Madrid’s Luis Suárez did not play with Uruguay in June. Group H is expected to come down to goal differential, and it appears Uruguay has their shooting boots on even without their best striker and player. But, Portugal is a scoring juggernaut too, so Group H will be difficult and most likely will come down to a rematch of the 2018 Round of 16 match between Portugal and Uruguay to see who wins Group H. Uruguay won this match 2-1.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Uruguay

Oceania (OFC):

No teams had previously Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup prior to the Inter-confederation Playoffs so this section is left blanked.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • No OFC Teams Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Final European Club Rankings Top 50

  1. Real Madrid (L, DSC, CL) (Spain)
  2. Manchester City (L) (England)
  3. Liverpool (DC, LC) (England)
  4. Chelsea (CWC, CSC) (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (L, DSC) (Germany)
  6. AC Milan (L) (Italy)
  7. PSG (L) (France)
  8. Inter Milan (DC, DSC) (Italy)
  9. FC Porto (L, DC) (Portugal)
  10. Ajax (L) (Netherlands)
  11. Red Bull Salzburg (L, DC) (Austria)
  12. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  13. RB Leipzig (DC) (Germany)
  14. Villarreal (Spain)
  15. SC Portugal (LC, DSC) (Portugal)
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  17. Real Betis (DC) (Spain)
  18. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  19. Eintracht Frankfurt (EL) (Germany)
  20. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  21. Leicester City (DSC) (England)
  22. Sevilla (Spain)
  23. Napoli (Italy)
  24. PSV Eindhoven (DC, DSC) (Netherlands)
  25. SL Benfica (Portugal)
  26. Juventus (Italy)
  27. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  28. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
  29. AS Roma (CnL) (Italy)
  30. Real Sociedad (Spain)
  31. Manchester United (England)
  32. West Ham United (England)
  33. Feyenoord Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  34. Arsenal (England)
  35. Lille OSC (DSC) (France)
  36. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  37. AS Monaco (France)
  38. FC Nantes (DC) (France)
  39. SS Lazio (Italy)
  40. ASC Fiorentina (Italy)
  41. FC Union Berlin (Germany)
  42. Brighton & Hove Albion (England)
  43. Celtic FC (L, LC) (Scotland)
  44. OCG Nice (France)
  45. Wolverhampton Wanderers (England)
  46. Stade Rennais (France)
  47. Rangers FC (DC) (Scotland)
  48. FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
  49. SC Braga (Portugal)
  50. GNK Dinamo Zagreb (L) (Croatia)
  1. L = Domestic League
  2. DC = Domestic Cup
  3. LC = Domestic League Cup
  4. DSC = Domestic Super Cup
  5. CL = UEFA Champions League
  6. CSC = UEFA Super Cup
  7. CWC = FIFA Club World Cup
  8. EL = UEFA Europa League
  9. CnL = UEFA Conference League

Top 10 Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. France
  6. Portugal
  7. Netherlands
  8. Belgium
  9. Ukraine
  10. Turkey

Republicans and Democrats are both Right and Wrong on Mass Shootings

Democrats constantly love to preach about how Republicans take blood money from the NRA to not protect children at schools from school shootings over the Republicans’ decisions to not vote for gun control legislation and increasing background checks.

And, to be honest, they are correct to an extent on this. Republicans could easily support more background checks and there are a lot of policies that could help fix this issue such as Red Flag laws and other forms of restrictions that would take legal guns out of the hands of people suspected to be mentally unstable and willing to commit a crime such as mass shootings. This would make it harder for these crazy people to commit these types of crimes.

But, Democrats are also wrong when they pretend that more security at schools does not help, including armed security. The Democrats have almost been celebrating the idea that armed police and security protocols did not work at the school in Uvalde, while failing to mention how the armed police did not do their jobs, and the security protocols were not followed, and how the killer was eventually stopped by armed law enforcement! If anything, just like after the political assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the attempt on President Ronald Reagan, we need to improve this form security and not lessen it, because it was not the security that did not work, rather it was people supposed to implement it. The logic by some Democrats would be to get rid of the Secret Service for an assassination because it does not work, instead of improving it so it does, especially how just like with armed guards, it usually works every time!

If Red Flag laws had been in effect, and if the armed police had done their job, or had better weapons, training, and funding, and had the security protocols been put in place, or just one of these, the killer would have not been able to kill countless children and two teachers, as the killer would not have been able to have a gun legally, the killer would have been stopped before entering the school, and the killer would have not been able to enter the school.

The truth is, we need to make it harder for bad people to possess guns, meaning we need more intelligence on our citizens and more confidential informing to police, schools, human and mental health resource officers, and more communication among the system as a whole. If the FBI is coming to check you out, you should not be able to own a weapon or at the very least, just like stadiums have facial recognition so that they can prepare for a potential act of violence by suspected terrorists or other potential criminals, they can stop them before they come into our schools, malls, and churches.

But, Democrats have to be willing to allow disproportions to exist if we are to do this. There might be a disproportion in the people affected by this on minority or religious backgrounds, and if the Democrats are serious, they will put the kids in front of identity politics.

Arizona released a very good plan back in 2018 that would seek to “allow law enforcement, family members, school administrators, teachers, resident advisors[,] and behavioral and mental health professionals to petition the court for a STOP order, which prohibit[s] an individual who is a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a weapon.” The process would ensure the second amendment rights of Arizonans by “ensuring due process prior to an order going into effect.” Arizona’s STOP would also “include measures to ensure a person under a STOP order does not have access to a firearm.”

With this plan, Arizona hoped to achieve:

  1. “Increased mental and behavioral health resources at schools”
  2. “Restricting access to firearms for individuals who pose a severe
    threat to themselves or others, while respecting the second
    amendment rights of law-abiding Arizonans”
  3. “Increased school resource officer and law enforcement presence at schools”
  4. “Enhanced background checks”

In order to achieve these goals, Arizona’s plan would include:

  1. “Invest[ing] in mental and behavioral health resources at schools”
  2. “Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP) to restrict firearm access for individuals who are a danger to themselves or others”
  3. “Enhance[d] background checks by improving the completeness and accuracy of the criminal history database”
  4. “Establish[ing] the Center for School Safety, creating a confidential centralized reporting tip line to report and investigate concerns of school safety”
  5. “Increase[d] school resource officer funding and training and increases the presence of law enforcement on school grounds”
  6. “Eliminat[ing] background check gaps”
  7. “Respect[ing] the second amendment rights of law-abiding Arizonans”

But, likewise, we need more security and armed guards at schools and other soft target places where many people attend because no matter how many background checks and gun restrictions there are, none of them will protect against the criminal who never shows up on the radar or buys or modifies their weapons illegally, if there is no armed guards! You cannot protect against the unknown unless you have weapons and elite training too.

Democrats have often advocated for less police in schools and elsewhere which has risen crime across the country, making the nation more dangerous. Unfortunately, Democrats often care more about representation than safety, and are too concerned that more policing will disproportionately hurt minority communities, when in reality, decreasing policing makes these areas more dangerous. In fact, increasing policing, especially at schools really helps, as do security measures.

Security needs to be multilayered and militarized as well. There are plenty of helpful policies, but the most useful ones include secure entry and exit facilities and only minimal amount of these, some even suggesting only one, with students and parents, as well as teachers and other workers needing IDs to get in, in addition to there being locked and buzzed-in doors, security cameras, and often times, gates all around. Now, the gates all around is not necessarily needed, and nor are all these others, but the fact is that there needs to be some sort of physical barrier to access the classrooms, if you do not want it around the school fully. Then, there needs to be armed security, including secret police focused on violent crime. And possibly, medal detectors and other forms of detecting any weapons on you, such as police patrols that would constantly patrol the campus, mall, church, and other places of soft target gatherings to make sure there are no unsafe bags, packages, belongings, etcetera.

Opponents fear this makes our schools into prisons, but I doubt this will be the case, and even more doubt that people would prefer their current vulnerable position to an increased secured position.

And, this can be done in shopping malls, movie theaters, and other places as well, including in Churches. Private security and Public security can provide this depending on the context.

When we look at Gun Free Zones, we still see shootings. Thus, we need a realistic way to combat mass shootings, and not improving our armed security at schools, and our whole security apparatus at that will hurt us even more.

Democrats need to give up the dream of there being no law enforcement to protect civilians from criminals in the fantasy that making something illegal makes it go away, but Republicans need to also give up the dream that libertarianism in terms of gun ownership does not lead to more dangerous people having more dangerous guns. We need more armed security and more restrictions on who can have guns if we are to win this war on our safety. But make no mistake about it, it is not 50 [Republican] Senators in Washington, D.C. delaying action on protecting our kids, rather, it is all 100 because both political parties fail in addressing safety, and ironically, it is the Democrats who fail more because their plan leaves the children still vulnerable to those who possess firearms illegally, whereas the Republicans’ plan protects children and others regardless of how the firearms were obtained. And, a mixture of both plans would be best!

Top 32 Clubs for Week of 23 May:

  1. Real Madrid (Spain)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Liverpool (England)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  6. AC Milan (Italy)
  7. PSG (France)
  8. Inter Milan (Italy)
  9. FC Porto (Portugal)
  10. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  11. Ajax (Netherlands)
  12. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  13. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  14. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  15. Villarreal (Spain)
  16. Napoli (Italy)
  17. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  18. Real Betis (Spain)
  19. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  20. Juventus (Italy)
  21. Arsenal (England)
  22. AS Roma (Italy)
  23. Sevilla (Spain)
  24. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Germany)
  25. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  26. Leicester City (England)
  27. Palmeiras (Brazil)
  28. PSV (Netherlands)
  29. Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)
  30. West Ham United (England)
  31. FC Union Berlin (Germany)
  32. Manchester United (England)

President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Died Today

The President (Head of State) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Emir (Head of State) of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died today, 13 May 2022.

During his time as President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and Abu Dhabi became world leaders in everything from business to tourism to entertainment to religion to sports to art to healthcare and even to things such as space exploration.

Since the 1990s, Sheikh Khalifa has ran many of the day to day affairs of the UAE and Abu Dhabi while as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, but in 2004, after the death of his father HH Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Khalifa became the President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi formally.

Sheikh Khalifa had a long career in government before this starting off early as the Rulers’ Representative for the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, now called the Al-Ain Region of Abu Dhabi, in 1966. Sheikh Khalifa was born in Al-Ain in 1948 so he knew the area well.

In 1969, he became the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and would become Head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defense. During this time, Abu Dhabi was still under the Trucial States, a protectorate of the United Kingdom.

In 1971, the UAE would gain independence with Abu Dhabi (City) becoming the capital of the newly independent state of six emirates, the seventh joining in 1972.

Post 1971 independence, Sheikh Khalifa would hold many titles for both Abu Dhabi (Prime Minister, Head of Cabinet, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Finance) and the UAE (Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Executive Council, Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, Head of the Supreme Petroleum Council now called Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and the Chairman of the Environmental and Wildlife Development Agency). Eventually, he would become the President of the UAE, Emir of Abu Dhabi, and Commander of the Armed Forces.

He was also the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which is the sovereign wealth fund for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Khalifa banked his governing strategy on fighting Islamic extremism in the region and on opening the UAE up to more liberalization, as well as overseeing greater relations with the USA and NATO, in addition to closer relations with other world powers including Russia and the People’s Republic of China, plus France and the United Kingdom (also NATO members).

The United Arab Emirates became a place where the co-existence of the Abrahamic Faiths are paramount, with the historic concordats and treatise made with Holy See and Israel. It is in these deals where the UAE saw Pope Francis visit in 2019, and where President Trump (USA) and Sheikh Khalifa oversaw a transition among other Arab and Muslim nations including the UAE to recognizing and establishing formal ties with the State of Israel in 2020. This created the project known as the Abrahamic Family House, to be built in Abu Dhabi.

Many people worry if the liberalization and increasing freedoms in the UAE will subside with the death of Sheikh Khalifa, but luckily for the UAE, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been running much of the day to day functions of both the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE since 2014. And thus, these deals that led to greater cooperation with the USA and NATO, Israel, the Holy See, and the greater liberalizations and freedoms that Emiratis have earned will most likely continue with a smooth transition to Sheikh Mohamed as the new President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi. Already, Sheikh Mohamed is formally the Emir of Abu Dhabi, but he is likely to formally become the President of the UAE per tradition of the presidency belonging to Head of State of Abu Dhabi.

As for the present, the current acting president is HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai, as he was the Vice President of the UAE.

When Sheikh Zayed died, then Emir of Dubai, HH Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, served as acting president for one day.

Memories Will Live On:

The memories of Sheikh Khalifa will live on throughout the UAE, Middle East, and the world as Sheikh Khalifa’s rule saw the UAE become a major hub for the world. In just 50 years time, the UAE went from a newly independent state to the country known by all in the world for its spectacular sites and forward looking leaders.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is named after Sheikh Khalifa due to Abu Dhabi paying off some of Dubai’s debt and will be forever a reminder of the quests undertaken by Emiratis under Sheikh Khalifa’s rule.

How should the UAE move forward?

The UAE has a unique nation in transition from one of immense wealth concentrated in the Emirati citizenry and one of impoverished conditions of many of the migrant workers, to one where these migrant workers will be making a healthy living. These migrant workers living conditions have been becoming better under Sheikh Khalifa’s reign, especially with the new permanent residency laws. In order for the UAE to continue to be a stable country in the midst of a unstable region, the new leader of the UAE will have to continue this trend of higher living standards for the most poor in the UAE, while also balancing the demands of the local Emiratis. This will curb any revolutionary fervor.

The UAE needs to continue their revolutionary policies with regards to the sciences in terms of agriculture, weather, and space. The UAE has been heavily investing in cloud seeding to increase rain and aquaculture to increase agriculture and this needs to continue for the UAE to become more self-sufficient. As for space, the UAE needs to solidify itself among the world leaders in space exploration following their 2021 successful drone mission to Mars.

The UAE is a place that has defeated Islamic extremism in its borders, and has embraced religious pluralism. For the UAE to continue to be seen as a leader, the UAE needs to continue to fight off any attempts to make the country a hub for Islamic extremism and needs to embrace their Christian and Jewish connections as well to become a center of religious dialogue on the Arabian Peninsula. This will better connect the UAE to the rest of the world. Sheikh Khalifa had to dismantle a Muslim Brotherhood aligned Islamist group coup in 2006, and Sheikh Mohamed has been very key in fighting Islamic extremism since he effectively took control in 2014.

The UAE has been moving toward a more democratic system of government for some positions, and this is good for the country. The UAE needs to beware of becoming too democratic, but the UAE often suffers from a lack of constructive criticism. For the UAE to advance in the world, their leaders need to have incentives to do good. But, at the same time, the UAE needs stability. So, the current system is sufficing, and just a little more democracy could go a long way in transforming the losing sectors of the UAE into winning sectors. Going to the UAE, you see that the nation has a lot of room to grow, and injecting more democracy can lead to more policies on how to do this.

The UAE needs to continue to expand the role of women in its society. Imagine a world in which 50% of your country cannot participate in the economy or civil society? Unfortunately for a lot of the Islamic world, this is the case, but the UAE has been changing this within their own borders, especially in the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This needs to continue for the UAE to prosper, as the UAE still is not quite there yet in terms of releasing its collective women power.

The UAE should continue to invest in transportation, education, health, and technology. The UAE is embarking on a new railroad that will transverse all emirates and will boost both industry and tourism, while the UAE continues to open up and partner with new universities and hospitals. The UAE is also embracing more advancement in a plethora of technologies, such as nuclear and solar energy, and desalinization plants. This should continue so the UAE can become more advanced.

English and Constitutional Law might be most important for the growth of the UAE though. In order for the UAE to reach its next level of success, creating guarantees in the law, and embracing its already English language dominated society in the major cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi will make the UAE more connected to the Western world and thus the centers of finance. Investors need to know that their private property and investments will be protected according to the law, even if they fall out of favor with the ruling class, or else they will not fully invest as much as they could in the UAE. Plus, they also need to know what they are investing in, which is why the use of the English language is so important. The UAE has already been adapting laws and using the English language officially to benefit investors, but more can be done.

Lastly, the UAE needs to continue to exploit its federal system to allow for internal competition among the seven emirates. This will in turn, boost the UAE’s place among Qatar, Bahrain, and other countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Oman. The UAE is competing with the world, and each emirate needs to contribute both industrial and human capital to the UAE’s goals of towering over the rest. They might have done this literally already with the Burj Khalifa, but they need to continue this with advancing their society.

How should the rest of the world respond?

The rest of the world should respond with condolences. Whether ally or foe, the new leadership, even if only in name, creates a time to re-engage and re-start relations.

The USA, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom, France, and other world players like the Holy See and Israel should feel comforted by the fact that HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will most likely be taking over, since he has been the day to day ruler since 2014 anyway. However, the USA are in desperate need for a leader Sheikh Mohamed respects like President Trump. The USA should not be afraid to use the former president to their liking in dealing with Sheikh Mohamed, as both share a very cordial relationship unlike President Biden and Sheikh Mohamed.

But, those like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq should embrace a change of leadership, even if only formally, because this represents a time that they could restart their former friendship with the seven emirates. Already, Syria appear to be growing closer, and the Qatar’s and the UAE’s friendship has been rebounding as of late.

The country that should really take this time to change up their relationship with the UAE is Palestine. Palestine felt betrayed by the UAE when the UAE established formal relations with Israel, but this did not mean an abandonment of the Palestinians. The UAE could become the Muslim representatives for Palestine due to their friendship with Israel, and might be able to get concessions out of both to make the region more peaceful, that is if Palestine engages the UAE on this issue.

Conclusion:

Sheikh Khalifa will go down as one of the best Heads of State in the Middle East by all accounts from human prosperity to human freedom to stability and to strength during the period in which he lived. The Emirati ingenuity found its place under Sheikh Khalifa, as Dubai and Abu Dhabi transformed themselves into world cities, and places such as Sharjah and Ajman supplemented this growth. The UAE saw incredible growth in tourism, business, industry, education, health, living standards, rights, religious freedom, female empowerment, and so much more. Sheikh Khalifa’s reign ended with historic deals with Israel and the Holy See, as well as the historic mission to Mars and Expo 2020 Dubai. The UAE became the home of many sporting events and the sport of cricket itself. The UAE become an entertainment hub with movie franchises such as Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible making the UAE prime location scenes.

The future is bright post-Sheikh Khalifa, but only if the UAE can continue the brilliance that happened under his rule.

Top 32 Clubs In The World After 2 May Matches

  1. Liverpool (England)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. AC Milan (Italy)
  6. Inter Milan (Italy)
  7. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  8. PSG (France)
  9. FC Porto (Portugal)
  10. Ajax (the Netherlands)
  11. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  12. River Plate (Argentina)
  13. PSV (the Netherlands)
  14. Juventus (Italy)
  15. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
  16. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  17. Villarreal (Spain)
  18. Napoli (Italy)
  19. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  20. Arsenal (England)
  21. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  22. Real Betis (Spain)
  23. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  24. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  25. Racing Club (Argentina)
  26. Corinthians (Brazil)
  27. Flamengo (Brazil)
  28. Bayern Leverkusen (Germany)
  29. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  30. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  31. Sevilla (Spain)
  32. Atlético Madrid (Spain)

Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. Argentina
  9. the Netherlands
  10. Mexico

The House Bill to Seize Russian Frozen Assets is a Terrible Precedent

We need more financial independence and not less in this country.

Ironically, our socialist member of the House understands this better than most other people.

Four Democrats and four Republicans all voted against the House Bill that would allow the Executive Branch to seize the wealth of Russian Oligarchs that exceeds 5 Million USD, and this wealth would then be transferred to Ukraine to help with their war efforts. The Russian in question has to be a supporter of President Putin’s invasion supposedly, although we know that often times, more people are accused than are truly guilty of this, and not many Russians have even a chance to not support their Russian president somewhat, due to the authoritarian nature of their state. Therefore, this leads to a potential of many Russians losing their wealth without due process, including those on the West’s side and working from the inside to stop the war and possibly take President Putin out of power.

Here are the House of Representative members who voted against this bill:

  1. Madison Cawthorn: NC-11 (R)
  2. Marjorie Taylor Greene: GA-14 (R)
  3. Thomas Massie: KY-4 (R)
  4. Chip Roy: TX-21 (R)
  5. Cori Bush: MO-1 (D)
  6. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: NY-14 (D)
  7. Ilhan Omar: MN-5 (D)
  8. Rashida Tlaib: MI-13 (D)

These representatives may not be regarded popularly now, but they may become regarded as highly as those who fought against the Patriot Act and some of the other unlawful practices of the US Military and Intelligence communities during the earlier era of the War on Terror.

Here is the statement from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s team, a self-described democratic-socialist:

As you can see here, private property is important to her and to the greater United States community.

There are two major reasons these eight congressional leaders are correct.

One, it does set a terrible precedent and it either is or should be unconstitutional, and is 100 percent against the spirit of the law. How soon before they start seizing our wealth. It creates instability in our business sphere as foreign nationals will hesitate to invest money in the USA over fears of their government acting up, and it potentially hurts many lower class immigrants and many others including our own domestic citizens who could be next to be targeted. As we have seen under previous administrations and in Canada, financial wars against one’s own people can happen in proper constitutional states as well.

Two, it is not very smart. A lot of these oligarchs are against the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and a lot of them have been trying to work to end it. Furthermore, a lot of them have wealth in the West because they want to keep their money from the corrupt Russian government. They do not want to be extorted or blackmailed. More Russian money here probably means less Russian money in Russia. And, we should be doing everything we can to prop up one of these oligarchs as the next ruler to stop this invasion and create popular and a realistic demand for a change of president in Russia. We should not be driving these oligarchs to further believe Russia’s propaganda that seeks to paint the West as bad as Russia when it comes to freedoms, rights, and liberties, and as Russophobic.

Even though these are not the most popular members of the House of Representatives, and even though these are often the most radical members on each side of this chamber, they made the right call. When judging decisions like this, it is best to look at the decision instead than to resort to ad hominem attacks.

Also, lastly, it is highly contextual the way in which Russian Oligarchs got their money. Many people accuse them of stealing the money, but it is not like that all the time, or really at all. They often just got really good deals or were very smart. Either way, they should have due process.

For More Information, you can read this here:

https://www.newsweek.com/marjorie-taylor-greene-unites-aoc-smack-down-russian-asset-seizure-1701849

Also, the ACLU has come out against this bill:

Top 32 Clubs in the World:

  1. Liverpool (England)
  2. Manchester City (England)
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  6. PSG (France)
  7. Inter Milan (Italy)
  8. FC Porto (Portugal)
  9. AC Milan (Italy)
  10. Villarreal (Spain)
  11. Juventus (Italy)
  12. RB Leipzig (Germany)
  13. Real Betis (Spain)
  14. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  15. Racing Club (Argentina)
  16. SC Portugal (Portugal)
  17. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  18. Ajax (Netherlands)
  19. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
  20. SC Freiburg (Germany)
  21. Atlético Madrid (Spain)
  22. Napoli (Italy)
  23. PSV (Netherlands)
  24. Olympique de Marseille (France)
  25. FC Barcelona (Spain)
  26. Union Berlin (Germany)
  27. Sevilla (Spain)
  28. Arsenal (England)
  29. Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  30. Palmerias (Brazil)
  31. River Plate (Argentina)
  32. SL Benfica (Portugal)

Top Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Argentina
  10. Mexico

The USA Should Use the 2024 T20 World Cup to Grow Closer to the Caribbean

Central America increasingly is being placed into the PR China sphere, and other areas across South America and the Caribbean are.

Recently, El Salvador just announced a new stadium to be built with PR China investment.

And Nicaragua just switched allegiance to the CCP’s China in 2021.

Now, the concerns are in the Caribbean as many nations here are tempted by the opportunity for PRC investment into their nations.

Yet, this region is still the strongest in the world with recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan/ROC), with three of the 15 member nations of the West Indies National Cricket Team recognizing Taiwan. Those three are St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Furthermore, there are two nations within CARICOM that are not part of the West Indies Cricket Team that also recognize Taiwan and those are Belize and Haiti.

And, with Honduras, Guatemala, and Paraguay, the Americas displays it is still the region standing up the most to the CCP.

But recently, places like Jamaica and Barbados have been receiving major investment from the PRC, and after the Solomon Islands deal, it is well-known now that commonwealth realm members like Jamaica or the Solomon Islands can make deals with the CCP without worries of interference from the Governor-General or the Queen.

This is due to many varying factors such as too many demands attached to aid from Western nations and anti-colonialist rhetoric that the PRC masters its propganada on. While no one really sees the PRC as an innocent player, they do see them as the country that did not enslave them or take over their nation, which is what Jamaica and Babardos sees the UK as, and the USA is linked to the UK in these deals.

But, the USA’s co-hosting at the 2024 Cricket World Cup and their influx of Indian immigrants, especially into their cricket scene, has opened up a pathway between Americans and the people of the Caribbean that did not exist previously, at least not to this extent.

The Americans are dumping tons of money into cricket infrastructure, and tons of money into new cricket leagues, that will surely rival and be the envy of those in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean, meanwhile, has been plagued with not funding their cricket enough, and with their cricket dwindling in popularity. However, for the Caribbean movement, cricket is most important. It is the sport that brought them together in the 1960s-1980s and since and has shown them that together, these mighty small nations can create the best in the world!

And, as seen from policies created by Barbados and Jamaica, as well as others like Trinidad and Tobago, the push for greater integration into CARICOM and the Caribbean Justice System has become the new thing. And only cricket seems to be the sport that unites all, or at least most of these nations together as one.

Cricket is the beating heart of nationalism for the Caribbean.

The USA must recognize this and use their co-hosting to signal to these nations that they are like them and in their neighborhood. The USA must use its Caribbean and Indian community to alert the Caribbean-Black and Caribbean-Indian community that they are more alike than what meets the eye.

The USA must use the soft power of cricket to bring the Caribbean back under its sphere of influence.

The USA can do this with a proper World Cup and proper partnership with the Caribbean. Given that the World Cup the USA is co-hosting is the Twenty20 version, this will mean that more youths across the Caribbean will be watching and will be associating the USA with West Indies’ success. This can do wonders 30 years down the line for the USA.

But, the USA needs something quick so that the PRC does not keep stumping the Americans in the Americas.

The USA knows the likes of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will almost certainly be pro-PRC, but for the other nations, it does not have to be this way.

Already, one can see the influence baseball plays in foreign diplomacy in the Americas as baseball has greatly reduced hostilities between Cuba and the USA, between Nicaragua and the USA, and between Venezuela and the USA, and it has fostered closer US relations with numerous of nations like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia. Cricket can do the same for a lot of the English-speaking Caribbean.

As it is, it is important for the USA to get along with the Caribbean because it is already there anyway. Puerto Rico is an observer member of CARICOM and the US Virgin Islands is a member of the Cricket West Indies.

The USA can grow closer with more investment into cricket and more cricket diplomacy. The 2024 World Cup signals the best chance for the USA to re-engage the Caribbean.

It is Time for Pakistan to Recognize the NRF as the Afghanistan Government

Time has long passed for Pakistan to become a good actor on the world stage.

Pakistan continually has backstabbed allies and has taken from all sorts of countries and ideologies, whether it be the USA, PR China, or radical Islam, Pakistan continues to move toward a world where it is not trusted and continually attacked and radicalized, creating more instability and more poverty.

In order to stop this radicalization and these attacks, Pakistan needs to stop propping up the Taliban-led Afghanistan and revert to supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government, placed in the trust of the National Resistance Force (NRF).

If Pakistan fails to do this, Pakistan will continue to fall into the same trap of sponsoring the Taliban under the false pretense that the Pakistan Taliban is different and that the Afghanistan Taliban will stop it. The Afghanistan Taliban will continue to allow the Pakistan Taliban safe haven as both seek to reunite Pashtunistan.

Pakistan must remember that to fight terrorism, one must support those trying to fight it. The NRF is fighting terrorism for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Check this featured link for an update on the situation: https://themedialine.org/top-stories/islamabad-warns-taliban-not-to-shelter-pakistani-terrorists-on-afghan-soil/

For more in-depth coverage knowledge on the situation unfolding in this region from the Afghanistan pull-out, check out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DDBHLJD/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Solomon Islands Deal with PR China

The Solomon Islands have officially signed a security pact with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that will see the PRC have the ability to have military bases in the Solomon Islands, as well as send in military and security forces personnel if requested.

This is disastrous for the Commonwealth Realm and for Western Interests, as well as Taiwanese, Indonesian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Brunei interests.

The Commonwealth Realm is a group of 14 nations under the same person, but a different role, Queen Elizabeth II. As Queen of the Solomon Islands, Queen Elizabeth II is represented by Governor-General David Vunagi, but mostly, she and he hold only nominal power as seen from their lack of influence over the PR China deal. Australia, New Zealand, and the UK highly objected to this deal, as did numerous of other Commonwealth Realm members who seek to grow democracy around the world via constitutional monarchies, and who hope to keep their influence strong in the Pacific as the Communist China appears to be taking more and more sea, land, and influence in the region. Australia had signed a deal with the USA and UK earlier to make them stronger against the PRC, militarily on the sea, but now, PR China will be much closer to Australia threatening Australian sovereignty via force, instead of just via influence. For New Zealand, they have strong relations with the PRC, but also have come under fire due to them sticking up for Hong Kong and banning Huawei 5G. Papua New Guinea (PNG) will also be concerned as North Bougainville attempts independence by 2027, with Solomon Islands support. The Solomon archipelago includes North Bougainville, and thus the two are both Melanesian and related. PNG will hope North Bougainville does not gain PRC support via the Solomon Islands.

The USA, Japan, and NATO as a whole have been trying to preserve the Republic of China’s (ROC/Taiwan) status quo, but now, it appears to have taken another weak turn as the PRC establishes more military territorially in the Pacific. Furthermore, there is great concern that the PRC could continue to try and dominate more Pacific Islands, and already have in places like Tonga! This is a big worry for the West as many possessions of the West and allies of the West are in the Oceanian region. For example, earlier in this century, it appeared PNG was falling under the PRC military apparatus, but luckily, that was not the case.

For the ROC, this move is highly disastrous, as is for the other nations bordering the South China Sea, which include Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. All of these nations wish to keep their sea sovereignty, but now, the PRC will have access to pressure these nations from the North and South, and will have allied justifications to be in international waters all around these nations for the Solomon Islands defense.

Overall, this deal hurts the Western alliance against PRC aggression.

It still leaves a question as to whether the Queen of the Solomon Islands will ever step in to fend off certain bad legislation and deals as she is supposed to do.

UK Sending Refugees to Rwanda is not as Bad as It Seems

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) has recently come under fire due to reports they will be sending asylum seekers and refugees to Rwanda.

Many people see this as barbaric, but, those peoples are probably very misinformed that Rwanda has become one of Africa’s brightest countries whose economic growth has seen it become termed, the African Singapore.

With a stable government that preaches against dividing people ethnically, due to the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, President Kagame has overseen a vibrant Rwanda that has become the capitalist paradise in Sub-Saharan Africa, amidst many failing socialist states.

President Paul Kagame is not a perfect president by any means, as his country does appear to be de facto one-party led at this point, but nonetheless, he has overseen a vibrant Rwanda and refugees would be very lucky to be a part of this new Rwanda.

Rwanda and the UK seem to both see benefits from this. The UK does not want more asylum seekers, and Rwanda wants more workers to boost their economy, and thus both appear to get a net benefit from this.

Furthermore, the existence of subsistence living as a healthy alternative provides refugees with a really good potential to live fulfilling lives, even if they do not do well in the job market.

But, there are some negatives.

One, if the migrants are predominantly Muslim, this could prove too dangerous for Rwanda unless they are treated very well, because the Eastern flanks of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has an ISIS insurgence going on, and there are worries this could spread to Rwanda, as it has to other countries in the region, if Rwanda is not careful. Rwanda is a Christian country, but, its usage of Swahili as an official language opens itself also up to ISIS, al-Qaeda, and al-Shabaab propaganda in East Africa on the coast especially. To combat this potential rise of Muslims, Rwanda will have to overtly make Muslims feel welcomed there. Islamic extremism preys on young people who already feel the world is against them, so Rwanda does not need to add more fuel to the fire. Rwanda may have to follow the UAE’s plan and censor mosques and imams.

Two, this could fuel British anti-Briton feelings that could hurt the nation, not just for those that are minorities, but also for Britons who generally benefit from the diverse backgrounds of various groups in the United Kingdom. The UK is one of the centers of global trade and entertainment, but if the UK continues shenanigans like this, it could push many to abandon the UK for other countries relegating the importance of economic hubs like the City of London. These worries existed right after Brexit too, according to many critics, but the UK has done well since.

Three, there are issues concerning to the Rwanda human rights record, which may put certain groups at risk, in addition to concerns over Rwanda’s prevailing health issues. Rwanda did have a very successful COVID-19 response, but on other fronts, Rwanda is still behind. So, by placing certain people in Rwanda, it could harm them, whereas in the UK, these harms would mostly not be there.

Four, Rwanda’s alliances could prove troubling for some of these refugees, especially if Rwanda colludes with some of these allies to hurt these migrants. This needs to be analyzed by intelligence agencies and the UN, plus NGOs.

Future plans with this immigration for Rwanda should include work permits like in the UAE, with a potential for permanent citizenship later like in the USA. Rwanda should vet all of these people, before granting citizenship to them. Rwanda needs to make sure these people are safe.

Perhaps, the biggest positive that could come from this is a continual diversification of Rwanda which could create a more stable Rwanda, ironically, as it could further a potential where the two major ethnic groups must work with others to achieve electoral and popular victory. Plus, it can connect Rwanda to the outside world more, and bring Rwanda all sorts of talents to boost Rwandan morale and pride, as well as their economy potentially.

Top 32 Clubs around the World Right Now:

  1. Liverpool (England) +
  2. Manchester City (England) –
  3. Real Madrid (Spain)
  4. Chelsea (England)
  5. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil)
  6. Bayern Munich (Germany)
  7. PSG (France) +
  8. Inter Milan (Italy) –
  9. AC Milan (Italy) +
  10. RB Leipzig (Germany) +
  11. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  12. Villarreal (Spain) +
  13. River Plate (Argentina) +
  14. Racing Club (Argentina) +
  15. Flamengo (Brazil) +
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain) +
  17. FC Barcelona (Spain) +
  18. SC Portugal (Portugal) –
  19. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  20. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  21. Palmeiras (Brazil) –
  22. Napoli (Italy) +
  23. Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina) +
  24. Fluminense (Brazil) –
  25. Juventus (Italy) –
  26. Colo-Colo (Chile) –
  27. SC Corinthians Paulista (Brazil) +
  28. Real Betis (Spain)
  29. Sevilla (Spain)
  30. Borussia Dortmund (Germany) +
  31. Ajax (the Netherlands) –
  32. PSV Eindhoven (the Netherlands) +

Dropped from previous rankings:

  • Leicester City (England)
  • West Ham United (England)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  • Independiente del Valle (Ecuador)

Leagues:

  1. England
  2. Spain
  3. Germany
  4. Brazil
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Portugal
  8. Argentina
  9. Netherlands
  10. Mexico

Top 32 Club Power Rankings:

World:

  1. Manchester City (England) +
  2. Liverpool (England) +
  3. Real Madrid (Spain) +
  4. Chelsea (England) –
  5. Atlético Mineiro (Brazil) +
  6. Bayern Munich (Germany) –
  7. Inter Milan (Italy) +
  8. Palmeiras (Brazil) +
  9. PSG (France) +
  10. Ajax (the Netherlands) +
  11. AC Milan (Italy) +
  12. Villarreal (Spain) +
  13. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  14. SC Portugal (Portugal) +
  15. River Plate (Argentina) +
  16. Atlético Madrid (Spain) –
  17. Flamengo (Brazil) –
  18. FC Barcelona (Spain) –
  19. Juventus (Italy) +
  20. Fluminense (Brazil) +
  21. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  22. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  23. Napoli (Italy) +
  24. Colo-Colo (Chile) +
  25. Independiente del Valle (Ecuador) +
  26. West Ham United (England) +
  27. Leicester City (England) +
  28. Real Betis (Spain) +
  29. Sevilla (Spain) +
  30. Racing Club (Argentina) +
  31. Tottenham Hotspur (England) +
  32. Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina) +

UEFA:

  1. Manchester City (England) +
  2. Liverpool (England) +
  3. Real Madrid (Spain) +
  4. Chelsea (England) –
  5. Bayern Munich (Germany) –
  6. Inter Milan (Italy) +
  7. PSG (France) +
  8. Ajax (the Netherlands) +
  9. RB Leipzig (Germany) +
  10. AC Milan (Italy) +
  11. Villarreal (Spain) +
  12. FC Porto (Portugal) +
  13. SC Portugal (Portugal) +
  14. Atlético Madrid (Spain) –
  15. FC Barcelona (Spain) –
  16. Juventus (Italy) +
  17. Red Bull Salzburg (Austria) +
  18. SL Benfica (Portugal) +
  19. Napoli (Italy) +
  20. West Ham United (England) +
  21. Leicester City (England) +
  22. Real Betis (Spain) +
  23. Sevilla (Spain) +
  24. Tottenham Hotspur (England) +
  25. Olympique de Marseilles (France) +
  26. Stade Rennais (France)
  27. PSV Eindhoven (the Netherlands) +
  28. Lille OSC (France) –
  29. SC Freiberg (Germany) +
  30. Manchester United (England) –
  31. Union Berlin (Germany) +
  32. Trabzonspor (Turkey) +

Rangers victory propels Scotland Football forward in their Quest for World Cup Qualification

Having the best club team does not equal having the best league, and having the best league does not equal having the best national team.

We have seen this with many nations such as in Spain. Spain’s Real Madrid has been the best club team throughout history, but Spain only won their first and only World Cup thus far in 2010.

But, nonetheless, usually, if your country has a good league or good team, your national team improves too.

Scotland is a prime example of this, as are the USA and Australia.

As the Scottish league has improved once again to feature two clubs that can compete among Europe’s best, the Scottish national team is two matches away from Qualifying for their first World Cup since 1998.

Rangers victory over Braga was a victory over a side that has been consistently the #4 side in Portugal, a league that features elite teams like SL Benfica, FC Porto, and SC Portugal, as well as elite players and in a country with an elite national team, being the 2016 European Champions and the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League Champions.

While Rangers had to wait until extra time to defeat Braga 3-2 on aggregate (2-1 in regular time and 1-0 in extra time in the second leg), and in addition, benefitted from Braga being down to 10 men after the 42nd Minute and 9 men after the 105th Minute, it was still a monumental victory because it signaled that the best in Scotland could hang with the top of some of the better leagues in Europe. Braga is not simply a side that surprisingly finished in 4th in 2020-2021, rather, Braga has been a perennial 4th place side in Portugal for a long time now. Since 1996-1997, SC Braga has finished in the Top 5 18 times, with 12 of those being 4th Place, 2 being 3rd Place, and 1 being 2nd Place. In the previous last 6 seasons, SC Braga has finished 5th once, 4th 4 times, and 3rd once, and have won the 2015-2016 and the 2020-2021 Portuguese Cup, as well as winning the 2019-2020 Portuguese League Cup, and have finished in the semi-finals or higher in at least one cup 9 of the last 10 seasons, adding one more Portuguese Cup in 2012-2013.

SC Braga’s dominance in Portugal has been very good in Europe as well, having won the 2008 UEFA Intertoto Cup (former UEFA Third Tier Club Competition) and having finished runners-up in the 2010-2011 UEFA Europa League.

Thus, this result for Rangers Football Club has propelled the Scottish #2 to a position ahead of the current Portuguese #4 side.

Now, this still means that the Scottish League is behind the likes of the Portuguese League, and plenty others in Europe. It may not even be Top 10. And then when you include the World, surely the Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican, and others in the Americas are better, possibly even the USA’s and Canada’s when you include the amount of Scottish top division equivalent sides in these 2 nations to the Scottish League itself.

And, when you look at just Rangers itself, Rangers lost to Malmo (Sweden) in the UEFA Champions League to get to the UEFA Europa League, and then struggled against other sides from leagues assumed to be lower than the Scottish like Alashkert (Armenia) and Brøndby (Denmark).

Yet, it has not been the struggles that have defined this campaign, rather it has been the success against clubs in better leagues or comparable leagues like Sparta Praha (Czech Republic), Olympique Lyonnais (France), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Red Star Belgrade (Serbia), and now SC Braga (Portugal).

If you were to put in many other leagues top teams and put them on this path, one would expect them maybe to have gotten past Malmo, but outside of this, to have done worse than Rangers on their route to a UEFA Europa League semi-final.

Does this win mean Scotland is ready for the World Cup? No. Most of the Scottish players do not play for Rangers and most of the Rangers players are not Scottish.

But, it does make Scottish football more confident in their abilities to Qualify, and the Scottish players need this confidence when they go to take on Ukraine and potentially Wales in June.

When looking at the rise of England in the recent years, one cannot overlook that this rise has come parallel to the rise of its league, despite most of the best clubs not featuring many English men in their starting 11, or in their reserves. Likewise, a better Scottish League will likely lift the Scottish players playing in the Scottish League, of which Scotland National Team features many of these players.

The West Indies and the USA have Qualified for the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup!

The 2024 ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup will be the next edition of this storied tournament to be held after its 2022 edition later this year.

The hosts for the 2024 edition have been known for sometime: the West Indies and the USA.

But, it was yet to be determined if the West Indies and the USA would both Qualify Automatically as co-hosts.

On Sunday 10 April, it was confirmed that both co-hosts will Automatically Qualify for the 2024 World Cup!

The Twenty20 Cricket World Cup has been held once every two years, normally, since 2007. There have been a few exceptions to that rule, such as from 2009 to 2010 and 2016 to 2020 (held and changed to 2021 due to COVID-19). So far, the West Indies have won the World Cup twice, in 2012 and 2016, while other nations to have won this prestigious event have been India (2007), Pakistan (2009), England (2010), Sri Lanka (2014), and Australia (2021).

The West Indies are thus the best historical Twenty20 Cricket National Team side at the World Cup. The West Indies also has two other semi-finalist finishes, with one Round 1 finish and two Round 2 finishes. The West Indies have already Qualified for the 2022 Twenty20 World Cup via finishing in the Top 11 from the previous edition in 2021.

The USA has never Qualified for the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup prior to Sunday’s announcement, but are in the running to Qualify for 2022 edition. The USA has not Qualified yet, but are in the last round of Qualifiers to.

For the West Indies, this World Cup Qualification does not mean as much as for the USA. The West Indies were most likely going to Qualify regardless, and are always a favorite due to their historical juggernaut history and their present-day talent! The USA, on the other hand, has never Qualified for any Men’s Senior level Crickey World Cup, either for ODI or Twenty20, and definitely not Test. Thus, this is a huge accomplishment for the USA. The USA also is starting up Major League Cricket (MLC) and has already created Minor League Cricket (MiLC).

Furthermore, the USA is in the midst of building some important cricket infrastructure in the USA via new stadiums, especially in Texas!

The USA are progressing in cricket and a World Cup Qualification and Hosting of a Twenty20 World Cup will definitely spur cricket growth in the USA.

For the West Indies, they can expect a resurgence of cricket into the minds of the youth with hosting this World Cup. And given the Caribbean Premier League is one of the best leagues, a good result should be expected potentially increasing cricket’s popularity there exponentially.

Lastly, this cooperation is good for all parties involved. The USA needs more elite players and training and the West Indies needs more money and popularity. By both working together, this helps both achieve their goals.

Therefore, congrats to both nations on their historic achievement of not just hosting the 2024 Twenty20 World Cup, but of also Qualifying for the 2024 Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.

Source: ESPN CricketInfo

The Pathway to the Final for all 37 Nations Left in the 2022 FIFA World Cup!

Group A:

  1. Qatar (Host Nation) (51)
  2. Ecuador (46)
  3. Senegal (20)
  4. Netherlands (10)

21 November:

Qatar v.s. Ecuador

Senegal v.s. the Netherlands

25 November:

Qatar v.s. Senegal

Netherlands v.s. Ecuador

29 November:

Netherlands v.s. Qatar

Ecuador v.s. Senegal

Group B:

  1. England (5)
  2. IR Iran (21)
  3. USA (15)
  4. Wales (18)/Ukraine (27)/Scotland (39)

21 November:

England v.s. IR Iran

USA v.s. Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

25 November:

England v.s. USA

Wales/Ukraine/Scotland v.s. IR Iran

29 November:

Wales/Ukraine/Scotland v.s. England

IR Iran v.s. USA

Group C:

  1. Argentina (4)
  2. Saudi Arabia (49)
  3. Mexico (9)
  4. Poland (26)

22 November:

Argentina v.s. Saudi Arabia

Mexico v.s. Poland

26 November:

Argentina v.s. Mexico

Poland v.s. Saudi Arabia

30 November:

Poland v.s. Argentina

Saudi Arabia v.s. Mexico

Group D:

  1. France (3)
  2. Peru (22)/Australia (42)/UAE (68)
  3. Denmark (11)
  4. Tunisia (35)

22 November:

France v.s. Peru/Australia/UAE

Denmark v.s. Tunisia

26 November:

France v.s. Denmark

Tunisia v.s. Peru/Australia/UAE

30 November:

Tunisia v.s. France

Peru/Australia/UAE v.s. Denmark

Group E:

  1. Spain (7)
  2. Costa Rica (31)/New Zealand (101)
  3. Germany (12)
  4. Japan (23)

23 November:

Spain v.s. Costa Rica/New Zealand

Germany v.s. Japan

27 November:

Spain v.s. Germany

Costa Rica/New Zealand v.s. Japan

1 December:

Japan v.s. Spain

Costa Rica/New Zealand v.s. Germany

Group F:

  1. Belgium (2)
  2. Canada (38)
  3. Morocco (24)
  4. Croatia (16)

23 November:

Belgium v.s. Canada

Morocco v.s. Croatia

27 November:

Belgium v.s. Morocco

Croatia v.s. Canada

1 December:

Croatia v.s. Belgium

Canada v.s. Morocco

Group G:

  1. Brazil (1)
  2. Serbia (25)
  3. Switzerland (14)
  4. Cameroon (37)

24 November:

Brazil v.s. Serbia

Switzerland v.s. Cameroon

28 November:

Brazil v.s. Switzerland

Cameroon v.s. Serbia

2 December:

Cameroon v.s. Brazil

Serbia v.s. Switzerland

Group H:

  1. Portugal (8)
  2. Ghana (60)
  3. Uruguay (13)
  4. South Korea (29)

24 November:

Portugal v.s. Ghana

Uruguay v.s. South Korea

28 November:

Portugal v.s. Uruguay

South Korea v.s. Ghana

2 December:

South Korea v.s. Portugal

Ghana v.s. Uruguay

Round of 16:

3 December:

Group A Winners v.s. Group B Runners-Up (Match 49) at 18:00

(1) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands

v.s.

(2) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

Group C Winners v.s. Group D Runners-Up (Match 50) at 22:00

(1) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland

v.s.

(2)France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia

4 December:

Group D Winners v.s. Group C Runners-Up (Match 52) at 18:00

(1) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia

v.s.

(2) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland

Group B Winners v.s. Group A Runners-Up (Match 51) at 22:00

(1) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

v.s.

(2) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands

5 December:

Group E Winners v.s. Group F Runners-Up (Match 53) at 18:00

(1) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan

v.s.

(2) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia

Group G Winners v.s. Group H Runners-Up (Match 54) at 22:00

(1) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

v.s.

(2) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

6 December:

Group F Winners v.s. Group E Runners-Up (Match 55) at 18:00

(1) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia

v.s.

(2) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan

Group H Winners v.s. Group G Runners-Up (Match 56) at 22:00

(1) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

v.s.

(2) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

Quarter-finals:

9 December:

Match 53 Winners v.s. Match 54 Winners (Match 58) at 18:00

(1) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ R16 (2) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia

v.s.

(1) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon/ R16 (2) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

Match 49 Winners v.s. Match 50 Winners (Match 57) at 22:00

(1) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ R16 (2) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland

v.s.

(1) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ R16 (2) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia

10 December:

Match 55 Winners v.s. Match 56 Winners (Match 60) at 18:00

(1) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ R16 (2) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan

v.s.

(1) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea/ R16 (2) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

Match 51 Winners v.s. Match 52 Winners (Match 59) at 22:00

(1) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ R16 (2) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands

v.s.

(1) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ R16 (2) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland

Semi-finals:

13 December:

Match 57 Winners v.s. Match 58 Winners (Match 61) at 22:00

(1) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ R16 (2) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ QF (1) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ R16 (2) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia

v.s.

(1) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ R16 (2) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ QF (1) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon/ R16 (2) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

14 December:

Match 59 Winners v.s. Match 60 Winners (Match 62) at 22:00

(1) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ R16 (2) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ QF (1) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ R16 (2) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland

v.s.

(1) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ R16 (2) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ QF (1) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea/ R16 (2) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

3rd Place Match:

17 December:

Match 61 Losers v.s. Match 62 Losers at 18:00

L x (1) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ R16 (2) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ QF (1) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ R16 (2) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ SF (1) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ R16 (2) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ QF (1) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon/ R16 (2) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

v.s.

L x (1) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/R16 (2) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ QF (1) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ R16 (2) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ SF (1) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ R16 (2) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ QF (1) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea/ R16 (2) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

FIFA World Cup Final:

18 December:

Match 61 Winners v.s Match 62 Winners at 18:00

W x (1) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ R16 (2) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ QF (1) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ R16 (2) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ SF (1) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ R 16 (2) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ (1) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon/ R16 (2) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea

v.s.

W x (1) England/IR Iran/USA/Wales/Ukraine/Scotland/ R16 (2) Qatar/Ecuador/Senegal/the Netherlands/ QF (1) France/Peru/Australia/UAE/Denmark/Tunisia/ R16 (2) Argentina/Saudi Arabia/Mexico/Poland/ SF (1) Belgium/Canada/Morocco/Croatia/ R16 (2) Spain/Costa Rica/New Zealand/Germany/Japan/ QF (1) Portugal/Ghana/Uruguay/South Korea/R16 (2) Brazil/Serbia/Switzerland/Cameroon

2022 FIFA World Cup Champions:

Pots for Qatar 2022:

Pot 1: Qatar (51), Brazil (1), Belgium (2), France (3), Argentina (4), England (5), Spain (7), and Portugal (8)

Pot 2: Mexico (9), the Netherlands (10), Denmark (11), Germany (12), Uruguay (13), Switzerland (14), USA (15), and Croatia (16)

Pot 3: Senegal (20), IR Iran (21), Japan (23), Morocco (24), Serbia (25), Poland (26), South Korea (29), and Tunisia (35)

Pot 4: Cameroon (37), Canada (38), Ecuador (46), Saudi Arabia (49), Ghana (60), Wales/Scotland/Ukraine, Peru/Australia/UAE, Costa Rica/New Zealand

No nation other than those that are European may have another nation from their continent in their Group. The European nations may have one other European nation in their Group.

Qatar is automatically getting first seed in Group A.

2022 World Cup Qualifiers March Window Update:

North America (CONCACAF):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Third Round/Octagonal Phase: The Top Three nations in the Group Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Fourth Place team advances to the Intercontinental Cup to play the Oceanian First Place nation for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Tiebreakers:

  1. Overall Points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss)
  2. Overall Goal Difference
  3. Overal Goals For
  4. Points in Matches Played between Tied Teams
  5. Goal Difference in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
  6. Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
  7. Away Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
  8. Fair Play Points (First Yellow Card: -1 Points; Indirect Red Card (Second Yellow Card): -3 Points; Direct Red Card: -4 Points; Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: -5 Points)
  9. Drawing of Lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee

  1. Canada (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 14; 8-4-2; 23-7; +16; 28
  2. Mexico (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 14; 8-4-2; 17-8; +9; 28
  3. USA (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 14; 7-4-3; 21-10; +11; 25
  4. Costa Rica (Advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff): 14; 7-4-3; 13-8; +5; 25
  5. Panama (Eliminated): 14; 6-3-5; 17-19; -2; 21
  6. Jamaica (Eliminated): 14; 2-5-7; 12-22; -10; 11
  7. El Salvador (Eliminated): 14; 2-4-8; 8-18; -10; 10
  8. Honduras (Eliminated): 14; 0-4-10; 7-26; -19; 4

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Jamaica 1 El Salvador 1

Panama 1 Honduras 1

Mexico 0 USA 0

Costa Rica 1 Canada 0

Canada 4 Jamaica 0

El Salvador 1 Costa Rica 2

USA 5 Panama 1

Honduras 0 Mexico 1

Panama 1 Canada 0

Jamaica 2 Honduras 1

Mexico 2 El Salvador 0

Costa Rica 2 USA 0

Analysis:

Canada: Canada is doing better and better and their 4-0 win over Jamaica at home led to Canada Qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Canada has only been to the World Cup once before, in 1986, where the Canadians finished 0-0-3 scoring 0 goals and giving up 5 goals. The Canadian National Soccer Team is now moving higher up in the rankings and with their star roster featuring the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, and Cyle Larin, they will be difficult for any team at the World Cup in Qatar. However, it must be remembered that while Canada topped the Octagonal, the World Cup is all about Qualifying, while the Gold Cup and Nations League is about winning, which the Canadians have yet to do this past 4 year cycle. Canada finished 6th and 4th in the 2019 and 2021 Gold Cups respectively. Canada finished 5th in the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League. Canada is ready to advance out of the Group Stage in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but will most likely be in Pot 4 and will have a difficult Group. With Alphonso Davies healthy, and even without him, Canada should be able to compete with anyone. Canada did not lose until this past Qualifying Window when Canada lost twice, but both away, and Canada still got the win over Jamaica at home to secure its place in Qatar. Canada will have now Qualified for 2 straight World Cups too, as they are a co-Host for the 2026 World Cup with the USA and Mexico.

USA: The USA Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after this past Window, going 1-1-1, drawing Mexico away 0-0, defeating Panama 4-0 at home, and losing 0-2 away against Costa Rica. The USA will be disappointed to have not done better in the Qualifiers. The USA also suffered from losing to Costa Rica on the last night of Qualifiers, but given the context of how the USA played Costa Rica this last night, it was not as big of a deal. The USA needs to look past Head to Head results and to the important matter at hand which is the 2022 World Cup. USA is the President of CONCACAF having finished Runners-up in the 2019 Gold Cup, and having won the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup! The USA is a legit Top 10 side, and has the depth to bring many different players and do well at the World Cup. The USA used almost three different rosters across the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup. The USA will most likely be a two seed in the FIFA World Cup, and will be expected to Advance out of the Group Stage. The USA has the potential to beat most teams in the World Cup, and has the young talent to play energized and out play other nations in Qatar. The USA will look to develop more with some tough friendlies to prepare for the 2022 World Cup. The USA National Soccer Team will have now Qualified for 2 straight World Cups, as they are the main host as co-Hosts in the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

Mexico: Mexico continues their run of making 8 straight World Cups, and will have Qualified for 9 straight World Cups as a co-Host of the 2026 World Cup with the USA and Mexico. Mexico has been struggling with their identity as North American juggernauts, but Mexico still has dominated winning the 2019 Gold Cup, and finishing Runners-Up at the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup. Mexico also finished 2nd in the Octagonal, tied on points for 1st Place. Mexico, however, was technically the third nation to Qualify from North America for the World Cup in Qatar. Mexico did well this last window, drawing the USA at home 0-0, winning 1-0 away against Honduras, and defeating El Salvador 2-0 at home to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Mexico will be expected to advance out of the Group Stage as a two seed most likely in their Group. Mexico has made it to 7 straight Round of 16s, but has failed to win in this Round in their last 7 tries. Mexico, like the USA, must look past Head to Head bragging rights and focus on the World Cup. Mexico and the USA are used to beating Canada, but this time around, in the Qualifiers, Canada owned the series with both, 1-1-0, yet all Qualified for Qatar 2022, the ultimate goal of the Qualifiers.

Costa Rica: Costa Rica was nowhere near where they needed to be to Qualify for the World Cup having just 9 points at the end of the November 2021 Qualifying Window. But, since then, the Costa Ricans have been on fire. In the January-February Window, Costa Rica went 2-1-0 winning 1-0 at home against Panama, drawing 0-0 away against Mexico, and winning 1-0 away against Jamaica. Costa Rica went from being the national team people thought was getting too old and bad, to becoming the former mainstay of North America. After all, their last 4 years had not been stellar up to that point finishing 5th Place at both the 2019 and 2021 Gold Cups, and finishing 4th at the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League. Costa Rica was not playing up to par. But the 1990 13th Place and 2014 8th Place got back to work to Qualify for 3 straight World Cups. Costa Rica went into the last Qualifying Window for North America behind by 1 point from 4th Place. Costa Rica would defeat Canada at home 1-0, then defeat El Salvador away 2-1, and then defeat the USA at home 2-0. Keylor Navas has kept the Costa Ricans alive and well for the World Cup, and now Costa Rica has advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff to play New Zealand, in a one-off match in Qatar. Costa Rica will be the favorites having gone 6-1-0 in the last 7 matches of Qualifiers. Costa Rica is starting to look like their 2014 World Cup team, and if they can continue to improve against good opposition, Costa Rica might replicate that performance or go further. Costa Rica has lots of youth talent overlooked as the Costa Rican league is not heavily as scouted, but is a good league. Costa Rica will bring depth to their match against New Zealand and should win, but the Costa Ricans must stay focused!

Panama: Panama was the #4 team almost the whole Octagonal Round, except after the last Window. In this last Qualifying Window, Panama tied Honduras at home, 1-1, lost to the USA 1-5 away, and defeated Canada 1-0 at home. The draw against Honduras put Costa Rica ahead on points, and the loss to the USA eliminated Panama from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Panama has not done spectacular in their last 4 years finishing 7th at the 2019 Gold Cup and 9th at the 2021 Gold Cup. Panama also finished 8th at the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League. But, Panama’s experience and expertise to play above their level in World Cup Qualifications must be accounted for why Panama did so well in the Qualifiers until the last Qualifying Window. Panama will be desperate to Qualify for 2026 , but for now, Panama will be happy their nation continued to preform at a high level. And that 1-0 win over Canada proved the Panamanians have the firepower to compete at the World Cup, they just did not Qualify.

Jamaica: Jamaica is the country everyone expects to be good, because much like many African nations, Jamaica has some elite individuals, many of whom are foreign-born. Jamaica finished 4th Place and 7th Place at the 2019 and 2021 Gold Cups respectively, while Jamaica won their Division B Group in the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League to earn promotion to the 2022-2023 Division A. Jamaica was eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup before El Salvador, but finished higher in the end with their 2-1 win over Honduras at home. Jamaica had another poor showing in Qualifiers and will need to revamp their program for the future in order to Qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

El Salvador: El Salvador was hypothetically still able to Qualify until this past window when they tied 1-1 away to Jamaica, and then Costa Rica beat Canada 1-0. El Salvador then lost to Costa Rica at home 1-2, and then lost to lost to Mexico 0-2 away. El Salvador has been improving as a football program, but needs more improvement for now. El Salvador will be a favorite to Qualify for the 2026 World Cup, along with Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and Honduras. El Salvador did well over these past 2 years, after having finished 9th in the 2019 Gold Cup, El Salvador then won their Division B Group to earn promotion to CONCACAF Nations League Division A in the 2022-2023 season, and finished 6th at the 2021 Gold Cup. El Salvador needs to go for more wins at home in the future, but now have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Honduras: Honduras came off of a 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League 3rd Place finish feeling good, and started off 2-0-0 in the 2021 Gold Cup, only to lose their next two matches and be eliminated from the 2021 Gold Cup at 8th Place overall. Still, this was an improvement for Honduras from their 10th Place finish at the 2019 Gold Cup. Honduras has not won a match since their win over Panama in the Gold Cup Group Stage, going 0-4-13 since, and finishing 0-4-10 in World Cup Qualifying. Honduras has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup with one of the worst performances for a side at this stage in North American Qualifiers ever. Going winless is inexcusable for a side who Qualified for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Canada
  • USA
  • Mexico

Advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff:

  • Costa Rica

South America (COMNEBOL):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Final Round: The Top Four nations in the Group Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Fifth Place team advances to the Intercontinental Cup to play the Asian Fifth Place for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Tiebreakers:

Overall Points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss)
Overall Goal Difference
Overal Goals For
Points in Matches Played between Tied Teams
Goal Difference in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Away Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Fair Play Points (First Yellow Card: -1 Points; Indirect Red Card (Second Yellow Card): -3 Points; Direct Red Card: -4 Points; Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: -5 Points)
Drawing of Lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee

  1. Brazil (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 17; 14-3-0: 40-5; +35; 45
  2. Argentina (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 17; 11-6-0; 27-8; +19; 39
  3. Uruguay (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 18; 8-4-6; 22-22; 0; 28
  4. Ecuador (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 18; 7-5-6; 27-19; +8; 26
  5. Peru (Advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff): 18; 7-3-8; 19-22; -3; 24
  6. Colombia (Eliminated): 18; 5-8-5; 20-19; +1; 23
  7. Chile (Eliminated): 18; 5-4-9; 19-26; -7; 19
  8. Paraguay (Eliminated): 18; 3-7-8; 12-26; -14; 16
  9. Bolivia (Eliminated): 18; 4-3-11; 23-42; -19; 15
  10. Venezuela (Eliminated): 18; 3-1-14; 14-34; -20; 10

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Uruguay 1 Peru 0

Colombia 3 Bolivia 0

Brazil 4 Chile 0

Paraguay 3 Ecuador 1

Argentina 3 Venezuela 0

Peru 2 Paraguay 0

Venezuela 0 Colombia 1

Bolivia 0 Brazil 4

Chile 0 Uruguay 2

Ecuador 1 Argentina 1

Analysis:

Brazil: Brazil closed out their 2022 World Cup Qualifiers in amazing fashion winning 8-0 on aggregate! Brazil’s 4-0 home win over Chile was impressive as Chile is really good, but Brazil’s away win over Bolivia was a great historic achievement because most nations struggle in Bolivia and yet Brazil handled the elements so well. Brazil has proven throughout these Qualifiers that they are a favorite to win in Qatar 2022, no matter where they have played! Brazil’s 2021 Copa America Runners-Up finish displayed really good football, and their 2019 Copa America Champions displayed a Champion mentality. Finishing first in Qualifiers is the benchmark Brazil has set, and Brazil should take this mindset to the 2022 World Cup as favorites in their own mind, but not complacently

Argentina: Argentina won the 2021 Copa America and finished in 3rd Place in the 2019 edition. Argentina did not start off spectacularly in their last 4 years, but have improved to become a World Cup favorite. Their attacking prowess is unmatched right now, and their midfield, defense, and goalkeeping is getting better. Their win over Venezuela was impressive, and their draw away to Ecuador was just unlucky, as it was a late goal against them away in a country full of excitement for having Qualified the match before. Argentina needs more goalscoring consistency for the World Cup and will look to their Italian test this summer to be a good marker for where they are truly at for Qatar 2022.

Ecuador: Ecuador did an amazing job to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup by displaying competitive excellence in one of the world’s toughest continents, Ecuador should expect to be competitive at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, we must address that Ecuador is currently a very weak team being very lowly ranked, having gone 0-4-1 in their last 5 matches, and are coming off an 11th Place and 8th Place finish at the 2019 and 2021 Copa Americas respectively. Ecuador will most likely be one of the bottom seeds and thus will have to be in a tough group. Nonetheless, their South American experience should make them a team many pick to get out of the Group Stage. Ecuador missed the 2018 World Cup, and in 2014, Ecuador was one of two American teams not to get out of the Group Stage, and the only South American team not to. The other team was Honduras, who was in Ecuador’s Group.

Uruguay: Uruguay is supposed the be the #3 team in South America, or higher if you count their FIFA-designated 4 World Championships, second to Brazil, tied with Germany and Italy. But, their lack of good play in the last 4 years makes where “they are supposed to be” devoid from reality. Uruguay was toward the bottom of the Qualifiers until their last 4 matches where Uruguay won all of these, and they finished in the Quarter-finals in both the 2019 and 2021 Copa Americas. However, Uruguay did end up finishing 3rd Place in the Qualifying Standings to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and should be expecting to carry this win streak into Qatar. With their team and their history, Uruguay should expect a World Cup in 2022, but they will not be a favorite, at least not in the Top 5 of favorites.

Peru: Peru is not supposed to be a Top 5 team in South America. In fact, that is supposed to be Colombia, Chile, even Paraguay and Ecuador, in addition to the juggernauts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. But, Peru punches above their weight and have put themselves into the Intercontinental Playoff, either playing Australia or the UAE, in June in Qatar. Peru is coming off of a 2019 Copa America Runners-Up finish and a 2021 Copa America 4th Place finish. Peru Qualified for their first World Cup since 1982 in 2018, via the Intercontinental Playoff against New Zealand. Peru may have only gone 1-0-2 and not advance to the knockout rounds, but their only win came in a 2-0 win against Australia, so Peru should feel confident that they can defeat the Socceroos or the Emiratis when they play either team. However, if it is the Emiratis, Peru will have to battle an expected home crowd for the UAE, unless many Qataris buy tickets and then Peru might be the effective home team. Peru is 3-2-1 in their last 6 matches and they have friendlies in May coming up against Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The good news for Peru is that because most of their lineup plays in the Americas for professional football, they will most likely be able to have their players at these friendlies which will buildup their chemistry and give the claimed successors to the former Inca Empire a much higher chance to defeat Australia or the UAE to Qualify. Their 2-0 win over Paraguay might have got Peru to this 5th Place spot, but it was Peru’s 1-0 away win over Colombia last Qualifying Window that will surely be looked to as the defining moment in Peru’s South American leg of the Qualifiers.

Colombia: Colombia is much more feared and respected than any team in South America besides the Big 3! But, Colombia have been eliminated on the last day! Colombia did well this Qualifying Window going 2-0-0, but their record before this was 3-8-5. Colombia has the talent to be at the World Cup, but Colombia tied too much. Colombia needed to win more, and in a league set-up like South American World Cup Qualifiers are, one win is as good as three ties, and thus Colombia should have gone for more wins. Colombia finished 5th and 3rd at the 2019 and 2021 Copa Americas respectively, and Colombia was coming off of a 5th Place and 9th Place finish at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups respectively. Colombia will be upset knowing their last World Cup game was a penalty shootout loss to England in the Round of 16. Colombia will have to live with this another 4 years!

Chile: Chile was the #3 team in the world, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Runners-Up, a favorite to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup, coming off of a 10th Place and 9th Place finish at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups respectively, only for Chile to not Qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Chile lost their last two matches this past Qualifying Window and look to be a nation out of wack. Chile looked like their World Cup Qualifying failure was only temporary after finishing 4th Place at the 2019 Copa America, but their 7th Place finish in the 2021 edition rekindled the idea that Chile really was not very good. Sadly for Chileans, Chile continues to display a lack of good play. Chile will be upset to have been eliminated, but they never really deserved to finish Top 5 in South America.

Paraguay: Paraguay has been on the Chilean downward trend since the end of 2015 where they finished 4th Place at that Copa America. While Paraguay did do well in 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, but did not Qualify, their 2014 and now 2022 Qualifiers were quite atrocious. Paraguay struggled from tying too much and losing too much. These draws kept Paraguay within contention for Qualifications, but overall, their lack of wins proved too much. Paraguay is coming off of an 8th Place and 6th Place finish at the 2019 and 2021 Copa Americas respectively. Paraguay has been very average lately. And this is sad for a nation who finished 8th Place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bolivia: Bolivia has been having exciting matches a lot in the Qualifiers. 23 Goals For makes Bolivia the 4th highest scoring team in 2022 World Cup Qualifiers for South America, but they are also the nation with the most goals against at 42. Bolivia had a very good chance to Qualify sitting at 15 points two Qualifying Windows ago, with an away match against Venezuela and and a home match against Chile, followed by an away match against Colombia and a home match against Brazil. It was highly likely Bolivia could get 3 wins from those 4 matches, but instead, Bolivia lost all 4 matches! This means that Bolivia’s improvements seem trivial because now, Bolivia finishes in 9th Place in the Qualifiers for South America, a familiar position for the juggernaut at home, but much easier team to beat away. Bolivia did not take advantage of their Home Field Advantage these past two windows. Bolivia finished last place in the 2019 (12th Place) and 2021 (10th Place) Copa Americas.

Venezuela: Venezuela continues to be a Baseball first nation, at least that is the excuse the Venezuelans will use for not having Qualified and finishing in last place in South American Qualifiers! Venezuela may have good baseball and good basketball, but their football was improving too. Even as late as November 2019, Venezuela was #25 in FIFA World Rankings, coming off of a 7th Place Copa America finish. But, in 2021, Venezuela would finish 9th in Copa America, and now have finished 10th in Qualifiers. Venezuela should not be this bad. While a 9th Place finish is on par for their talent level, it is the lack of competitiveness that is most concerning. Only 10 Points from 18 matches, that is where many people are upset. Venezuela continues to be the only South American nation to have not won a Copa America or Qualify for a World Cup.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Uruguay

Advances to the Intercontinental Playoff:

  • Peru

Europe (UEFA):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Second Round: The Group Runners-Ups from the First Round advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers. The Top 2 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League Group Winners, who are neither Group Winners or Group Runners-Ups, advanced to the Second Round of Qualifiers, which is comprised of three four team playoff single-elimination semi-finals, with randomized chosen hosts for the semi-final and final. The three final winners of these four playoff semi-finals Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Path A:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Semi-finals:

Scotland verse Ukraine (Delayed; Moved to June 2022)

Wales 2 Austria 1

Final:

Wales verse Scotland/Ukraine in June 2022

Analysis:

Wales: Wales has a super star, Gareth Bale. Without Bale, Wales is a good team still. But, with Bale, Wales turns into a nation that can beat anyone! Wales is coming off of a 16th Place finish at the 2020 European Championships, which is not great, but it was only in 2016 that Wales finished 3rd. Wales successfully defeated a good Austrian side 2-1 at home, and then tied Czech Republic at home 1-1, with Bale being used a late substitute. Wales is coming off of a 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League where they stayed in League B, and a 2020-2021 edition where they were promoted to League A.

Scotland: Scotland Qualified for their first European Championships in 2020 since 1996, and will now look to Qualify for their first World Cup in 2022 since 1998. But, Scotland has to wait a little. Their match against Ukraine has been delayed. Scotland finished 22nd Place at the 2020 European Championship, but are playing much better than that. They had a tough Group featuring Croatia, England, and the Czech Republic. Scotland had two friendlies this past Qualifying Window. They played Poland at home, and should have won, but tied 1-1 with a 90th +4 Minute stoppage time goal by Poland, and then the Scottish travelled away to Austria where they should have won again, going up 2-0, before Austria scored in the 75th and 82nd Minutes and Scotland tied 2-2. Scotland will hope that their recent habit of giving up leads will be corrected for their match at home to Ukraine, and hopefully, an away match against Wales, both this June. Scotland is also coming off of a promotion to League B after the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League season, and a 2020-2021 edition that saw them stay in League B.

Ukraine: Ukraine is an elite team that rarely Qualifies for the World Cup. In Europe, you have Germany, Italy, France, England, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia, and a few more with high levels of achievement whom every one respects. But, then, you also have Denmark, Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine plus others on various years that always seem to be good. If they did not Qualify for the World Cup, it was not because of a lack of talent. Ukraine is coming off of an 8th Place finish at the 2020 European Championships, and a mix bag in the UEFA Nations League having been promoted after the 2018-2019 edition to League A, but relegated after the 2020-2021 edition back to League B. Ukraine has not lost in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers yet, but find themselves in the playoff rounds because they cannot seem to win that often, with a 2-6-0 record. With the War in Ukraine happening, Ukraine will be unlikely to some extent to be competitive this June, but also will be playing harder most likely for their nation. It is tough to tell which Ukraine will show up. Had Ukraine won the matches they should have, it would be France in the playoffs and Ukraine already Qualified.

Austria: Austria has been on the rise for awhile, but still has no World Cup Qualification since 1998 to show for it. Austria has a lot of talent, and got 12th in the 2020 European Championship, stayed in League B after the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League, and was promoted to League A after the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League. So, Austria is one of the Top 16 nations by some metrics in European football, but their World Cup Qualifying suggested otherwise, finishing 5-1-5 in all matches. Austria lost to Wales away 1-2 and tied Scotland at home, 2-2, this past window. Austria has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Path B:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Semi-finals:

Russia verse Poland (Poland advances as Russia was suspended due to their government’s invasion of Ukraine)

Sweden 0 (1-0 after Extra Time) Czech Republic 0

Final:

Poland 2 Sweden 0; Poland Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Analysis:

Poland: Poland had a brilliant run to get into these playoffs from September until their second to last World Cup Qualifying Group Stage match, going 5-1-0. Poland lost their last Group Stage match, but advanced to the Second Round. The Polish were supposed to play Russia in Russia in the Path B Semi-finals, but Russia were suspended from FIFA due to their Government invading Ukraine. Poland thus secured an automatic birth into the Path B Final. Poland defeated Sweden in Poland, 2-0, to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup! Poland was a small-favorite to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup and were expected to be very good in Russia, but they suffered losing to Senegal due to lots of bad officiating, and never recovering fully finishing 25th overall. Poland followed that up by what was then, relegation from the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League League A, and a 21st Place finish at the 2020 European Championships. But, the Polish luck changed as they expanded League A of the Nations League, and Poland got to stay at the highest level and did well enough to stay in League A following the 2020-2021 edition. Poland followed that up with a brilliant run of form in the World Cup Qualifiers. Poland tied Scotland 1-1 in Scotland in a friendly, on a lucky stoppage time goal, but followed that up with a convincing 2-0 home win over Sweden to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Poland may not be a favorite this time around, but they have the talent to do well in Qatar.

Sweden: Sweden finished 7th Place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and then they were promoted to League A after the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League. Sweden looked to be improving their usual selves which was a major competitor for World Cup glory. It was only back in 1994 that Sweden was #2 in the World, and the Swedes have finished World Cup Runners-Up in 1958, 3rd Place in 1938 and 1994, and 4th Place in 1934. And, in 2002 and 2006, the Swedish made it to the Round of 16. But, the Swedish nostalgia for being consistently toward the top ended after being relegated to League B after the UEFA Nations League 2020-2021 season. Sweden, however, would finish 10th in the 2020 European Championship, giving Swedish hope they would Qualify for the World Cup, and the Swedish hopes were mostly proved true as the Swedes were leading their Qualifying Group for most of the World Cup Qualifiers until the last Window of the First Round! Sweden though, rebounded and got the Extra Time win over the Czech Republic, in Sweden 1-0. Their lost to Poland though is devastating and now Sweden will sit out with some other great nations as they ponder what they could have accomplished in Qatar. Sweden has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Czech Republic: Czech Republic will be sad to have not made the World Cup, but the Czechs are still on the rise heading in the right direction. The Czech Republic finished the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League in League B, but in the 2020-2021 edition, earned promotion and will be playing in the 2021-2022 UEFA Nations League League A! The Czechs also finished 6th Place at the 2020 European Championship! And, the Czechs made it all the way to the European Second Round of World Cup Qualifying. The Czechs have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they have continued to impress, taking Sweden to extra time, away, and drawing Wales 1-1 away! The Czechs will be a favorite to Qualify for the World Cup in 2026.

Russia: Russia was suspended by FIFA and thus eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is a sad end to a national team that performed well enough to get to the European Second Round of World Cup Qualifying. It is quite strange to see a political decisions by UEFA and FIFA made, and I personally would advise against it. But, given the Invasion, both felt the need to suspend Russia. Russia was so close to Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in the First Round, losing in Croatia with an 81st Minute own goal, that put Russia 1 Point behind Croatia following this last match of Qualifiers. Russia finished 8th at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but has since mostly been adequate. In the European Championship, Russia finished 19th. And, in the 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 UEFA Nation Leagues, Russia stayed in League B. Russia is suspended for the 2021-2022 edition, at least for now, and the future of Russian football is uncertain. Maybe they will play in the next CONIFA World Cup, the World Cup for non-FIFA nations.

Path C:

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Italy 0 North Macedonia 1

Portugal 3 Turkey 1

Final:

Portugal 2 North Macedonia 0; Portugal Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Analysis:

Portugal: Portugal is a top team in the world and has been for quite some time. Portugal did very good to win at home, 3-1, over Turkey in the Semi-finals and then won 2-0 in the Path C Playoff Final at home against North Macedonia. The real test for Portugal was supposed to be Italy, but a win against the nations Portugal played against in the importance of those matches means that Portugal still impressed. Plus, Turkey is a very good team. They would dominate most continents, but are in Europe so they do not usually Qualify for the World Cup. Portugal won the 2016 European Championship, finished 13th at the 2018 World Cup, won the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League, finished 13th at the 2020 European Championship, and then finished 5th at the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League. Portugal is a favorite for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and will be happy to have Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

North Macedonia: North Macedonia is improving and is tapping into their former Yugoslav powers to create wonders across the footballing world. North Macedonia’s win over Italy was spectacular and left the Italians and Greeks speechless. The Greeks would have been really upset if North Macedonia had Qualified for the World Cup and not them. North Macedonia Qualified for the 2020 European Championship and finished 23rd, and then, North Macedonia were promoted to League C after the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League, and then stayed in League C after the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League. North Macedonia have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they did it going to the last match of Qualifiers!

Turkey: Turkey has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but their goalscoring was good from their two matches this past window considering they were without their star striker, Cenk Tosun. Turkey is a top national team, but by playing in Europe instead of Asia, Turkey makes it extremely hard for them to Qualify for the World Cup. The last time Turkey Qualified for a World Cup was in 2002 where the Turkish finished 3rd Place! They have only ever Qualified for one other World Cup, in 1954, where the Turks finished 1-0-2 in the Group Stage. The Turkish have been mostly bad, though, the past 4 years, finishing last place (24th) at the 2020 European Championship, and playing in League B in the UEFA Nations League for 2018-2019 and 2020-2021, only to have been relegated to League C following the 2020-2021 edition. While the Turkish are highly respected by everyone, make no doubt, this national team needs some changes. Turkey followed up their 1-3 loss away to Portugal with a 2-3 loss away to Italy. An interesting not about Turkey is that they have only lost to World Cup Champions at the World Cup, having lost to West Germany twice in 1954 and Brazil twice in 2002. Turkey’s only other non-win in the World Cup was a 1-1 draw with Costa Rica. Turkey has achieved 3rd Place in the European Championship (2008), FIFA Confederations Cup (2003), and FIFA World Cup (2002).

Italy: Italy has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup! This is Italy’s second World Cup finals in a row they failed to qualify for. Italy lost only once in the Qualifiers, against North Macedonia at home, but it is their lack of winning which did this. The Italians should have Qualified for the World Cup already, but they suffered against the Swiss and Northern Irish and failed to get a win. In fact, the Italians finished their last 6 World Cup Qualifying matches with a 1-4-1 record. The 4x World Champions started off their last 4 years with an 8th Place finish at the 2018-2019 UEFA Nations League, which was not great, but was not bad either. They then won the 2020 European Championship and finished 3rd Place at the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League. Italy has greatly improved, but their upset loss to North Macedonia will be on the Italian minds for a while. Luckily for Italy, the 2021-2022 UEFA Nations League starts right away, before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and by the time Qatar 2022 roles around, Italy may be getting ready to go to another UEFA Nations League Semi-finals and will be focused on winning that, instead of on missing out on the World Cup. With 4 World Cups, Italy would much rather win the European Championship, than Qualify for the World Cup and win neither. But, they have a good enough team to expect to Qualify for and Win both!

National Team Updates for the national teams who already Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the previous Round of Qualifications:

Germany: Germany won at home 2-0 against Israel and tied 1-1 away against the Netherlands, both in friendlies. Germany was the better team against the Dutch and are heading into the World Cup as favorites. For more information about Germany’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Denmark: Denmark lost to the Netherlands away 2-4, but won at home against Serbia, 3-0. Denmark was outplayed by the Netherlands, but kept the score within a 1 goal difference until the 71st Minute. However, Denmark outplayed Serbia. The Danish should be happy they are scoring well, but upset they gave up 4 goals to the Netherlands. Plus, Denmark wants to get a top seed at the World Cup, but probably will not now due to their loss away to the Netherlands. For more information about Denmark’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

France: France was not very convincing to defeat the Ivory Coast at home in a friendly, 2-1, going down and then coming back, and scoring the match winner in the 90th +3rd Minute! However, France came back with a thumping 5-0 home win over South Africa! France thoroughly outplayed South Africa. France are the World Cup Favorite and the defending World Cup Champions, as well as the defending UEFA Nations League Champions! But still, the French-Ivorian match suggests that the French may struggle in the Group Stage. Yet, their last second win in stoppage time displays the lethal ability of the French to win in the dying moments of matches, which is something the French will be able to use in the Group Stage if the French do struggle. For more information about France’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Belgium: Belgium was outshot by the Republic of Ireland in a 2-2 away draw in Dublin. The Belgians were then supposed to host Slovenia, but instead, played home to Burkina Faso whom they beat 3-0. But, they still did not have more shots or more shots on target. Overall, Belgium did not look good. While Belgium remains a favorite due to their FIFA Ranking and consistency, the defending World Cup 3rd Place team just does not look good enough right now to compete for that coveted title. The 1x World Champions will hope their team can respond in the 2021-2022 UEFA Nations League where they will have the Netherlands, Poland, and Wales in their Group. These will be good tests, but Belgium really needs tests against France to truly gage where they are at. For more information about Belgium’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Croatia: Croatia tied Slovenia 1-1 at home in a match Croatia dominated and should have won. Unlike the Belgians who had shooting efficiency boots on, the Croatians seemed to have the opposite. The Croatians gave up a late goal in stoppage time which led to the tie. Croatia then dominated Bulgaria at home, but had to comeback and win 2-1. Again, the Croatians lacked efficiency. But, the Croatians grew this past Window as their team seems to be improving in terms of their attacking abilities. Croatia also got Andrej Kramarić to score a goal against Slovenia and a goal against Bulgaria. This is big news. Croatia is trending in the right direction and if Kramarić can start playing like he does for Hoffenheim, Croatia should make another deep run and contest for World Cup glory. But, they first need to start being efficient with scoring. Croatia will be in a Nations League Group with Austria, France, and Denmark. Croatia needs confidence to succeed, and this is a good Group to gain it. Croatia should win 4 of their matches, but the matches against France will be difficult. For more information about Croatia’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Spain: Spain dominated Albania in terms of possession and outshot Albania, but needed a 90th Minute Goal to defeat the Albanians 2-1 at home in a friendly. Spain followed that up with a 5-0 win over Iceland at home, where the Spanish outpossessed Iceland 85% to 15%, even better than their 82% to 18% against Albania, and outshot Iceland with 20 shots on goal and 8 on target. This was the performance of a World Cup Champion. The Spanish had a Croatian style first match, but their second match was a match Croatia likewise should have had. Both are good enough to put up these convincing displays. But, Spain is actually putting up these performances now. Spain has Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland in their UEFA Nations League Group. Spain will look to keep their confidence up and continue to play like a World Cup favorite. For more information about Spain’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Serbia: Serbia played a tight match away in Hungary that they won 1-0, but only due to a Hungarian own goal. The match was completely even. Then, Serbia went to Denmark where they lost 0-3, but outshot and outpossessed Denmark. Serbia does not look good enough to get our of the Group Stage right now, but they have the talent to. They have Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden in their League B Group for the UEFA Nations League, which should give the Serbians more practice against nations that would be listed as a 3rd or 4th seed in the Group, with a 2nd seed for Sweden. But, Serbia needs more matches against elite nations because if they get a Group that has Brazil and Denmark for example, they probably will not advance. For more information about Serbia’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

England: England won 2-1 in a comeback win over Switzerland, a tight one which saw neither one much more convincing than the other. Then, England defeated the Ivory Coast 3-0, but 2 of those goals came after the Ivory Coast went a man down. The English will be happy to have beaten two good nations in friendlies, but they did not look as convincing as they expected to. Still, the English head into Qatar as one of the favorites as well. For more information about England’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Switzerland: Switzerland had a very even match that could have gone either way away in England, but lost 1-2, and then came back and had an absolutely dominating performance against Kosovo in all, but the score. The Swiss tied 1-1 at home, in a match they had to comeback to tie. The Swiss want to advance to the Quarter-finals or further in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they need to show better results to do so. The Swiss will have plenty of chances to do that in the UEFA Nations League when they play the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Spain each twice. The Swiss will look to instill confidence into their team before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This level of competition should set them ready for the World Cup so they can get out of the Group Stage. The Swiss are consistently toward the top, but never do anything past the knockout rounds usually. For more information about Switzerland’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Netherlands: The Netherlands won 4-2 at home against the Danish and tied 1-1 at home against the Germans. It was an all-Frisian affair in these friendlies, and while the Dutch challenged themselves the most out of anyone, they also only played at home. The Dutch were not the better team against Germany, but their ability to score against teams like Denmark are good for their chances in the World Cup Group Stage. The Netherlands will most likely be in Pot 2, and thus will have to find a way to draw or defeat a team higher ranked than them, and then will have to try and dominate the rest of the competition. This friendly result proves very good for the Netherlands. For more information about the Netherland’s Qualification process and recent results, check: “FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after November 2021 Window”.

Asia (AFC):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Third Round: The Group Winners and Group Runners-Ups qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Group Third Place teams advance to play each other in a playoff in the Fourth Round, with the winner advancing to the Intercontinental Playoff to play the South American Fifth Place for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Tiebreakers:

Overall Points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss)
Overall Goal Difference
Overal Goals For
Points in Matches Played between Tied Teams
Goal Difference in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Away Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Fair Play Points (First Yellow Card: -1 Points; Indirect Red Card (Second Yellow Card): -3 Points; Direct Red Card: -4 Points; Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: -5 Points)
Drawing of Lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee

Group A:

  1. IR Iran (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 10; 8-1-1; 15-4; +11; 25
  2. South Korea (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 10; 7-2-1; 13-3; +10; 23
  3. UAE (Advances to the Fourth Round): 10; 3-3-4; 7-7; 0; 12
  4. Iraq (Eliminated): 10; 1-6-3; 6-12; -6; 9
  5. Syria (Eliminated): 10; 1-3-6; 9-16; -7; 6
  6. Lebanon (Eliminated): 10; 1-3-6; 5-13; -8; 6

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

South Korea 2 IR Iran 0

Lebanon 0 Syria 3

Iraq 1 UAE 0

IR Iran 2 Lebanon 0

UAE 1 South Korea 0

Syria 1 Iraq 1

Analysis:

IR Iran: IR Iran continues to dominate Asia, but their quest for world domination has not been very good yet. IR Iran was very competitive in the 2018 World Cup, but failed to get out of the Group Stage. IR Iran finished 1-1-1, but their lack of results against top notch teams like South Korea suggests another Group Stage exit is coming. Yet, IR Iran’s 2-0 comfortable win secured IR Iran the Group 1st Place Win after South Korea lost to the UAE, and thus the Iranians go into the World Cup having finished 3rd Place at the 2019 Asia Cup and having gone 14-1-3 across all of their Qualifiers with a 49-8, +41 Goal Differential. IR Iran may not have the biggest names, but their league is solid, and their roster is deep enough and good enough to compete to get out of the Group Stage, depending on whom they get matched up with. But, they will need to start beating nations like South Korea more. Either way, IR Iran has Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

South Korea: South Korea is a very good nation and is very consistent, but they need to execute better than a 0-1 loss away to the UAE. Still, their 2-0 home win over IR Iran displayed what the South Koreans are capable of, and that is knockout round run. The South Koreans have Qualified for every World Cup since 1986, having gotten out of the Group Stage twice, earning 4th Place in 2002, and 15th Place in 2010. South Korea finished 5th Place at the 2019 Asia Cup, and has now Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

UAE: The UAE had a mix bag of results this past window, losing a crucial match 0-1 away to Iraq, and then surprisingly winning 1-0 at home over South Korea, in order to get the coveted 3rd Place in the Group to Advance to the Fourth Round. The UAE need more consistency and more goal scoring and defense to be able to compete at the highest levels of the sport. They will have a one-off Fourth Round match against Australia in June in Qatar, followed by a one-off match against Peru in Qatar, should the UAE Advance to the Intercontinental Playoff with a win over Australia. The UAE finished 4th Place at the 2019 Asia Cup where the UAE defeated Australia 1-0 in the Quarter-finals. The UAE finished in the Quarter-finals in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup recently. The UAE will be happy to be playing so close by, but probably not as happy the match is close by in Qatar, as the Qatari-Emirati rivalry is very alive. It may feel like an away match if the Qataris come out to root for Australia and Peru if the UAE is to make it to the potential Peru match.

Iraq: Iraq did well to win 1-0 against the UAE at home, but their 1-1 tie against Syria away meant that their 1-0 would not have been enough anyway, barring some miracle South Korean blowout win. Iraq finished 11th Place in the 2019 Asia Cup, and finished 12th out if 16 nations at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. Iraq still have yet to Qualify for the World Cup, and the last time and only time they Qualified was in 1986. Iraq did get a nice home win in Bagdahd in a friendly, 3-1, over Zambia. This win may suggest the UAE and other Asisan teams are better than we thought. Iraq got going too late, and hence have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Syria: Syria should have finished 4th or higher, but they have fail backwards since their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifications where they lost in the Asian Qualifiers Fourth Round for the World Cup. Syria has no excuse for not doing better, as they had done so well in the midst of the Civil War when it was much worse. Therefore, this lack of Syrian good displays falls on their footballing, which finished in the Group Stage, last in their Group, at the 2019 Asia Cup, and finished 9th overall and 3rd Place in their Group at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. Syria was competitive a lot though, but just lost many matches this past World Cup 4 year cycle they should have won.

Lebanon: Lebanon did well to get to the Third Round of Qualifiers. While Lebanon will have expected to finish higher, this is where they should have finished. Lebanon is heading in the right direction with this result. Lebanon also did well with a 17th Place 2019 Asia Cup finish and 10th Place 2021 FIFA Arab Cup finish. The Lebanese need to continue to this trend so that next time, they can be better at competing for a Fourth Round spot or maybe even a World Cup spot. Lebanon has never made the FIFA World Cup and has only Qualified for 2 Asia Cups, so things are looking better for this traditional basketball powerhouse in West Asia.

Group B:

  1. Saudi Arabia (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 10; 7-2-1; 12-6; +6; 23
  2. Japan (Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup): 10; 7-1-2; 12-4; +8; 22
  3. Australia (Advances to the Fourth Round): 10; 4-3-3; 15-9; +6; 15
  4. Oman (Eliminated): 10; 4-2-4; 11-10; +1; 14
  5. PR China (Eliminated): 10; 1-3-6; 9-19; -10; 6
  6. SR Vietnam (Eliminated): 10; 1-1-8; 8-19; -11; 6

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Australia 0 Japan 2

SR Vietnam 0 Oman 1

PR China 1 Saudi Arabia 1

Japan 1 SR Vietnam 1

Oman 2 PR China 0

Saudi Arabia 1 Australia 0

Analysis:

Japan: Japan is a really good team, and could be once again, knockout round team. Japan focuses on the most important competitions for their soccer program and that is the World Cup! Japan finished Runners-up at the 2019 Asia Cup, and has been very good this World Cup. Japan did well to win 2-0 away in Australia, with two late goals, but their home tie against SR Vietnam was quite concerning showing that Japan is not quite elite enough to defeat all teams they are much better than like SR Vietnam. In the World Cup, Japan will need to be able to tie and win against good teams. So, their win over Australia was a good example, but their tie against SR Vietnam was not.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia (KSA) has done well to achieve so highly. They have been the best team in this Group throughout this Third Round. And they appear to have gotten better, and might be able to compete outside of Asia too. Saudi Arabia had an okay last 4 years, finishing 12th place in the 2019 Asia Cup, and 13th Place out of 16 teams at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. But, for the World Cup, KSA did even better than last World Cup Qualification. Saudi Arabia has Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and their last 2 matches were a strong 1-1 away tie against PR China and a 1-0 home win over Australia to secure Group 1st Place.

Australia: Australia are a good nation and they will expect to get to the FIFA World Cup. Australia is coming off of a 7th Place finish at the 2019 Asia Cup, and are looking to get to the knockout rounds for the 2nd time in history. The Socceroos will have to get past the UAE who they lost to in the 2019 Asia Cup Quarter-finals, and then, if they win that, they will have to get past Peru who they lost to 0-2 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage. The Australian national soccer team has the ability to play with anyone such as France whom they almost drew and played arguably better than in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group Stage in a narrow 1-2 loss, but they also have the ability to lose to anyone at the World Cup as evident in their 0-2 loss at home to Japan and their 0-1 away loss to Saudi Arabia.

Oman: Oman: Oman did very well this past window and these past 4 years to get within 1 point of Advancing to the Fourth Round. Oman finished 16th at the 2019 Asia Cup, and finished 8th at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. Oman continued to do well winning their past two matches winning 1-0 away against SR Vietnam and 2-0 at home over PR China. Oman have never Qualified for the World Cup and will not this time as Oman has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Oman, however, can use this momentum in continuing to get better. Oman could Qualify for the World Cup in the near future, especially with the FIFA World Cup expansion in 2026.

PR China: PR China went 3-1-1 in their last 5 matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and almost finished in the coveted 3rd Place position to Advance to the Fourth Round. PR China finished 1 point off. PR China was expected to be a favorite to make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They finished 6th at the 2019 Asia Cup, and were off to the Third Round full of confidence, until they saw the super Group they were in. PR China could have been and should have been more competitive. But, PR China failed to Qualify yet again for the FIFA World Cup, and have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, meaning their only World Cup finals Qualification still was in 2002.

SR Vietnam: SR Vietnam is way ahead of schedule! They are vastly improving exponentially. Their 0-1 home loss to Oman was as expected, but SR Vietnam could have won this one. However, their 1-1 away draw proved just how good this large and populous country can do. SR Vietnam finished last in this Third Round Group, and have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they are on the up and up. SR Vietnam finished 8th Place at the 2019 Asia Cup.

National Team Updates on the national team already Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup via being the Host Nation at the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

Qatar: Qatar are the defending 2019 Asia Cup Champions. Qatar also finished 3rd Place at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup, 3rd Place at the 2021 Gold Cup, and 10th Place at the 2019 Copa America. Qatar did very well this past window winning 2-1 at home to Bulgaria and 0-0 home draw against Slovenia. This was practically the same result as Croatia’s against these same teams. This puts Qatar on the right track again. Qatar has the home field advantage at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and could do well if they get back on the hot streak they were on.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Qatar (Host)
  • IR Iran
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Saudi Arabia

Advanced to the Fourth Round:

  • Australia
  • UAE

Africa (CAF):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Third Round: The Ten Group winners from the Second Round were randomly grouped together into home-and-away ties based off of their pots. The top five teams left according to FIFA Rankings were selected for Pot 1 and the bottom five teams left in FIFA Rankings for Pot 2. The winners of these home-and-away ties Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while the losers are eliminated.

Tiebreakers:

Overall Points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss)
Overall Goal Difference
Overal Goals For
Points in Matches Played between Tied Teams
Goal Difference in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Away Goals Scored in Matches Played Between Tied Teams
Fair Play Points (First Yellow Card: -1 Points; Indirect Red Card (Second Yellow Card): -3 Points; Direct Red Card: -4 Points; Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: -5 Points)
Drawing of Lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee

Matches from this Past Window:

1st Leg:

Home Team Away Team:

2nd Leg:

Home Team Away Team:

Overall Aggregate:

2nd Leg Home Team 1st Leg Away Team:

1st Leg:

Egypt 1 Senegal 0

2nd Leg:

Senegal 1 (3-1 in Penalty Shootouts) Egypt 0

Overall Aggregate:

Senegal ties on aggregate 1-1, but wins on penalty shootouts 3-1 and Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

1st Leg:

Cameroon 0 Algeria 1

2nd Leg:

Algeria 0 Cameroon 1 (1-1 in Extra Time)

Overall Aggregate:

Cameroon ties Algeria 1-1 and 2-2 on aggregate after extra time, but wins on 2 away goals through regulation and extra time verse 1 goal away by Algeria in regulation, and Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

1st Leg:

Ghana 0 Nigeria 0

2nd Leg:

Nigeria 1 Ghana 1

Overall Aggregate:

Ghana ties Nigeria 1-1, but wins on away goals with 1 away goal for verse 0 away goals, and Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

1st Leg:

DR Congo 1 Morocco 1

2nd Leg:

Morocco 4 DR Congo 1

Overall Aggregate:

Morocco wins 5-2 on aggregate and Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup!

1st Leg:

Mali 0 Tunisia 1

2nd Leg:

Tunisia 0 Mali 0

Overall Aggregate:

Tunisia wins 1-0 on aggregate and Qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Analysis:

Ghana: Ghana has to be the luckiest nation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or Croatia given how both Qualified. Croatia of course Qualified on a Russian own goal. But, Ghana has now advanced past the CAF Second Round by Goals For over South Africa, and now have beaten Nigeria on aggregate by away goals for! Away Goals rule should not exist, especially in the World Cup as it does not truly show who is the better team, but, nonetheless, it is used and Ghana has used these tiebreakers to their advantage. Now, Ghana will make their fourth World Cup finals appearance, having Qualified in 2006, 2010, 2014, and now 2022. Ghana was placed in a very difficult Group last World Cup Qualifiers featuring Nigeria, Algeria, and Zambia. Nigeria Qualified for the World Cup from that Group, so it seems only fitting Ghana knocked out Nigeria from this World Cup to Qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Black Stars made the Round of 16 in 2006, the Quarter-finals in 2010, and the Group Stage in 2014. They were competitive which each team they played in all of their matches. But, the Black Stars have fallen off these past 4 years, finishing 12th and 19th in the 2019 and 2021 African Cup of Nations respectively. If Ghana plays with passion, they will be difficult to beat, but most teams at the 2022 World Cup should be able to defeat the Black Stars. But, no one should look past them. They are good and they find ways to advance.

Senegal: Senegal will make their 3rd appearance to the World Cup following a 7th Place finish in 2002 and a 17th Place finish in 2018 after having Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with their penalty shootout victory over Egypt. Senegal missed out on a chance in the Round of 16 in 2018 due to a tiebreaker on Fair Play Points, but in all fairness, Senegal probably should have never beaten Poland as there was clear reffing blunder. Likewise, Senegal was able to defeat Egypt in the Qualifiers, but only after extreme abuse thrown at the Egyptians. Senegalese fans harassed the bus, threw stones and other things like drinks at players, and used laser pointers to distract the Egyptians. Senegal’s security and the whole match should probably be questioned as either Senegal has terrible security or they colluded with the fans to provide an illegal home field advantage. Senegal should probably not be allowed to play at home again for certain number of matches/play with no fans, especially if certain countries have not been able to due to racism being taunted at players, which the Snegalese fans are also rumored to have done. Nonetheless, Senegal have a great team and coach. Their manager has led Senegal to a 2019 African Cup of Nations Runners-up finish, and a 2021 African Cup of Nations Championship, their first time winning the African Cup of Nations. While two of Senegal’s three main players are French-born, Senegal is still widely regarded as Africa’s best team. Senegal will seek to achieve higher than their 2002 finish, the highest finish by an African team ever at the World Cup.

Tunisia: Tunisia makes their 5th appearance at the FIFA World Cup, having achieved 9th out of 16 teams in 1978 as their best finish. From 1998-2006, Tunisia Qualified for 3 straight World Cups. Now, Tunisia has Qualified for 2 straight World Cups. In 2018, Tunisia did well to finish 1-0-2, playing well against England in a 1-2 loss and beating Panama in a 2-1 win. However, they lost to Belgium 2-5. Tunisia is probably the nation that is most average at this 2022 World Cup from Africa as they do not have any individual with as much hype as the other nations to have Qualified, and their record is not good enough to warrant extra hype around their collective team. Tunisia is coming off of a 4th Place and 8th Place finish at the 2019 and 2021 African Cup of Nations respectively, while coming off of a Runners-Up finish to Algeria’s domestic league/second team in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup. Nonetheless, Tunisia has Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Tunisia was not impressive in their two legs against Mali, but their defense did hold Mali to 0 goals. But, their attack should do better.

Morocco: Morocco Qualifed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the most decisive fashion out of any of the nations in Africa that did, winning on aggregate, 5-2! Morocco defeated probably the weakest team in this stage, the DR Congo, but they were not weak because they were bad, rather it is more relatively weak compared to those around them. Morocco tied DR Congo away, 1-1, and then won at home against DR Congo 4-1! Morocco has arguably the best lineup along with Senegal for African nations at the World Cup in Qatar. Morocco is deep too. Their domestic league national team/second team finished 5th in the FIFA Arab Cup losing on penalty shootouts to eventual champions Algeria, and have won the 2018 and 2020 African Nations Championship, the domestic league national team competition for Africa. Morocco is coming off of 9th and 5th place showing at the 2019 and 2021 African Cup of Nations respectively. Morocco returns to the World Cup after their 2018 Group Stage where they went 0-1-2, but were competitive with IR Iran, Spain, and Portugal. Morocco may have not done as well as Senegal lately, but should be very difficult to play like Senegal.

Cameroon: Cameroon have Qualifed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But, this is only after the most agregious decisions since the World Cup Final in Moscow in 2018. The officiating was very bad and allowed Cameroon goals that should not have counted and took away Algerian goals that should have counted. Then, Cameroon Qualified via away goal rules after extra time, which means Algeria was at a 30 Minute disadvantage because essentially, Algeria had to play 30 more minutes where Cameroon’s goals counted as 2 goals in a tie breaker. Cameroon scored in the 4th Minute of stoppage time in the 2nd Half of Extra Time. Nonetheless, Cameroon was arguably the better side anyway having finished 3rd in the 2021 African Cup of Nations, following a 13th Place finish in the 2019 edition. Cameroon is widely known for being good at football too, and have finished 2nd Place at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, as well as finished 7th at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. These two finishes are the highest and joint-highest finishes ever by an African nation at these events. Furthermore, The Indomitable Lions have won 5 African Cup of Nations, so Cameroon, while weaker this time around, is historically the better side. And, Algeria practically is just the French 2nd Team given the lack of many African born players on their team. Cameroon will be a team that will be expected to finish last in their Group, but should be difficult no matter what.

Algeria: Algeria was the best team going in Africa having won the 2019 African Cup of Nations and having won the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup with their domestic league/second team. Algeria, however, followed that up with a 21st finish at the African Cup of Nations. And then, they had appeared to rebound with a 1-0 away win in Cameroon, but then the following leg at home saw Cameroon win, on dubious circumstances with one of the worst rules that has been eradicated from the UEFA Champions League, but nonetheless, Algeria lost. Algeria did not keep the pace and they faltered when it matter most for their World Cup hopes. Yes, the 124th Minute goal against is heartbreaking, but where were the 2019 African Champions the rest of the match? These are the reasons Algeria have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They never seem to be able to put teams away anymore, playing down to the level of their opposition. Maybe their Algerian domestic league team with players actually born in Algeria would have been a better option?

DR Congo: DR Congo was either the weakest or second weakest team in this stage of African Qualifiers for the World Cup. But, it is the growth they have taken to get here which shows that in the near future, the DR Congo could turn themselves into a really good national team. The DR Congo is widely recognized for having the best performance by any club from Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup, when TP Mazembe got to the Final in 2010. But, DR Congo’s national team has not followed the success of their club league or TP Mazembe more specifically. They are still a national team looking to be on the rise. DR Congo finished 14th at the 2019 African Cup of Nations, but failed to Qualify for the 2021 edition, and now have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. DR Congo has the population and area to compete, but just needs more structure and consistency. Over time, DR Congo should be able to get back to the World Cup, which they Qualified for once in 1974.

Mali: Mali has had really dominant youth teams over the years, so it is good to see Mali developing at the senior level. And this trend us carrying across in other sports too like basketball. Mali has lots of talent and did well to get to this stage. But, them and DR Congo were by far the weakest teams in this stage of African Qualifiers for the World Cup. Mali did well in their defending with their mostly French-born defense, and did well to hold Tunisia to 1 goal over two legs, but their lack of attack left a lot to be desired, and their 0 goals for over two legs means Mali has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Mali is coming off of back to back 11th Place finishes at the African Cup of Nations (2019 and 2021).

Egypt: Egypt is coming off of going to the 2021 African Cup of Nations Final, losing in penalty shootouts to Senegal, only to be knocked out by Senegal on penalty shootouts and eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Egyptians also finished 4th Place at the FIFA Arab Cup, losing to Tunisia is the Semi-finals on a 90th +5 Minute own goal, and then losing to Qatar on penalty shootouts in the 3rd Place Game. It is definitely safe to say the Egyptians should enjoy sometime away from football as it has not been very nice to them recently. The Egyptians however were not always sailing into medal round finishes and World Cup Qualifying Penalty shootuts. Egypt finished 10th in the 2019 African Cup of Nations, which followed a 31st Place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Pharoahs and historical best team of Africa will feel robbed by Senegal as certain rules were not followed in their away match in Senegal. The match should have probably been abandoned, but in the end, you cannot score only 1 penalty from 4 taken. The Egyptians must be better in the future.

Nigeria: Nigeria will be disappointed to miss their first World Cup finals since 2006. Nigeria have been the best team from Africa at the World Cup overall on average over the years. But, recently, Nigeria has not been doing quite as well. Nigeria finished 3rd Place at the 2019 African Cup of Nations, but finished 9th at the 2021 edition. Nigeria has been going downhill lately, and their lack of convincing results led to this lackluster two legs. Nigerians should also try to reform the game by getting rid of the away goals rule as their voice is very strong in football both in the world and especially in Africa.

Qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

  • Ghana
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia
  • Morocco
  • Cameroon

Oceania (OFC):

Matches Played; Wins-Draws-Losses; Goal Differential; Goals For-Goals Against; Points

Final Round: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Oceanian Qualifying has been changed. All FIFA Member Nations of OFC were allowed to compete for a chance at the World Cup, but three chose not to (American Samoa, Tonga, and Samoa). All matches were held in Qatar this Qualifying Window to create a neutral setting and to take advantage of timing issues. While at the Qualifiers in Qatar, two nations had to withdraw (Vanuatu and the Cook Islands). Thus, only six Oceanian nations competed for the Qualifiers. The nations are divided between two groups, one with four teams and one with two teams, due to the two withdrawals being in the same group. The top two teams in each group advance to the Semi-finals, and then in the semi-finals, the it is single-elimination with extra time and penalty shootouts if needed. The winner of the Final advances to the Intercontinental Playoff to play the North American Fourth Place in a neutral one-off single-elimination match for one of the last two Qualification Spots at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Group A:

  1. Solomon Islands (Advanced to the Semi-finals): 1; 1-0-0; 3-1; +2; 3
  2. Tahiti (Advanced to the Semi-finals): 1; 0-0-1; 1-3; -2; 0

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Solomon Islands 3 Tahiti 1

Group B:

  1. New Zealand (Advanced to the Semi-finals): 3; 3-0-0; 12-1; +11; 9
  2. Papua New Guinea (Advanced to the Semi-finals): 3; 2-0-1; 3-2; +1; 6
  3. Fiji (Eliminated): 3; 1-0-2; 3-7; -4; 3
  4. New Caledonia (Eliminated): 3; 0-0-3; 2-10; -8; 0

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Papua New Guinea 0 New Zealand 1

New Caledonia 1 Fiji 2

Papua New Guinea 1 New Caledonia 0

New Zealand 4 Fiji 0

New Zealand 7 New Caledonia 1

Fiji 1 Papua New Guinea 2

Matches from this Past Window:

Home Team Score Away Team Score:

Semi-finals:

Solomon Islands 3 Papua New Guinea 2

New Zealand 1 Tahiti 0

Final:

Solomon Islands 0 New Zealand 5

Analysis:

New Zealand: New Zealand has not had much competition as has most of Oceania as the Oceanian Nations Cup was cancelled due to COVID-19, and then the Qualifiers were so difficult to get started as many of the island nations had very strict rules on COVID-19. Thus, New Zealand last played competitively winning the 2016 OFC Nations Cup and finished last place (8th) at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. New Zealand was not as convincing in some of their wins as they should have been, but their 5-0 win over the Solomon Islands was massive and should put New Zealand on good momentum heading into their Intercontinental Playoff with Costa Rica. New Zealand lost last time in the Intercontinental Playoffs to Peru, 0-2 on aggregate. But, this time, it is a one-off match in a location New Zealand has become used to after these Qualifiers. While Costa Rica will be favored, a one-off match is a great benefit to the underdog team which is New Zealand.

Solomon Islands: The Solomon Islands were mightily impressive in these Qualifiers until the Final, as they brought their footballing skills from the sand and wood onto the pitch! The Solomon Islands found their future striker, Raphael Lea’i, who scored 3 goals against Tahiti and 1 goal against Papua New Guinea! For the Henderson Eels of the Solomon Islands S-League (Telekom S-League), Raphael Lea’i has 69 goals in 34 match appearances since 2019! He is only 18! The Solomon Islands have been massive in Beach Soccer and Futsal over the years with their Futsal National Team winning a record 5 OFC Futsal Nations Cup and going to 4 FIFA Futsal World Cups, and their Beach Soccer National Team winning a record 4 OFC Beach Soccer Championships and Qualifying for 5 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups. Now, the Solomon Islands look poised to transition to an all-around good footballing nation. However, they are still behind New Zealand. The Solomon Islands have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But, this is still improvement from the 2019 Pacific Games where they lost to Tahiti and New Caledonia, but tied Fiji, with huge wins over Tuvalu and American Samoa. The Solomon Islands defeated A-League side (Australian First Division), the Brisbane Roar, 1-0 away in a friendly, as well as Australian Second Division side, Queensland Lions, 2-0 away. The Solomon Islands lost to Australian Second Division, Caboolutre Sports FC, 3-4 away, but also beat the Cook Islands 2-0 away. The Solomon Islands’ victory over the Cook Islands was originally part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualification, but was subsequently relegated to only a friendly after the Cook Islands withdrew from the Qualifiers.

Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea (PNG) continue to impress in sports, and for Oceania overall, PNG tends to be the third best nation on average. However, PNG will be upset to have lost to the Solomon Islands, bringing up wounds of North Bougainville for sure. PNG have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but not until after some fun matches. PNG was placed in the Oceanian Qualifying Group of death, and came out of it alive! That was impressive. Plus, in the 2019 Pacific Games, PNG finished 4th in the soccer tournament, and lost to New Zealand’s U-23 National Team who represented New Zealand in the 2019 Pacific Games, 0-2. So, PNG has improved only losing 0-1 to their senior national team in 2022.

Tahiti: Tahiti or French Polynesia a they probably should be known since that is the entity they represent, had a less than stellar performance in these Qualifiers. Since their 2012 OFC Nations Cup Championship, becoming the only nation other than Australia or New Zealand to win this, Tahiti has become known as the second best team in Oceania, having finished last place (8th) at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. But, Tahiti has not been great since. Tahiti lost to French Fifth Division side, UA Cognac, 3-4 away in a friendly and tied CONIFA National Team, Occitania 0-0 away. Therefore, Tahiti failed to win, not just in their Qualifiers, but also in their friendlies against a team in the Fifth Division of France, and against another national team not in FIFA. Tahiti has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The French Polynesians were lucky to be in the easy group, as they had lost to both New Caledonia and Fiji in the 2019 Pacific Games, but had beaten the Solomon Islands. Yet, even the Solomon Islands has gotten better than Tahiti.

Fiji: Fiji was put into a difficult Group, probably the hardest Group in Oceania post Australia’s move into Asia for soccer. Fiji defeated Vanuatu in a friendly 3-0, and then defeated New Caledonia 2-1 in the dying moments with an 89th Minute Goal, but then lost their next two matches. Fiji defeated Papua New Guinea in penalty shootouts to claim 3rd Place at the 2019 Pacific Games, but failed to beat PNG this time lose 1-2 in the Group Stage, and this was after their 0-4 loss to New Zealand. Fiji has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Fiji did however play Vanuatu once again in a friendly, winning 2-1 in a comeback win. The Fijians may be disappointed with soccer, but they have Rugby Sevens to hang their hats on!

New Caledonia: New Caledonia has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, following a 0-0-3 display in Group Stage in the Oceanian Qualifiers for the World Cup. New Caledonia was placed in the tough Group, and while their 1-7 loss against New Zealand may suggest the 2019 Pacific Games Runners-Up were behind the 8 Ball, it was their 1 goal losses to both Fiji and PNG that suggested that New Caledonia were still good in Oceania, just a little worse than usual. So, for New Caledonians, hitting the panic button may not be helpful yet. Focus on future because New Caledonia could be good in Oceania again. Look to the 2023 Pacific Games to see if New Caledonia will be elite in Oceania again.

Vanuatu: Vanuatu is a very good nation usually in Oceania for soccer, but they suffered a COVID-19 Outbreak within their team, and thus had to miss out on the Qualifiers. Vanuatu has thus been eliminated in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Vanuatu played two friendlies against Fiji though, losing 0-3 and 1-2, suggesting that Vanuatu got better with this second match. Vanuatu did okay in the 2019 Pacific Games, losing to PNG, but drawing New Zealand’s U-23 Team, the only time New Zealand’s U-23 side failed to win in the soccer tournament at the 2019 Pacific Games. Vanuatu defeated the host nation Samoa and also Tonga at the 2019 Pacific Games to finish 3rd in their Group.

Cook Islands: The Cook Islands will be eying their 2023 Rugby League World Cup, but they had hoped to do well in another football first. The Cook Islands played in one World Cup Qualifying match, sort of, and lost 0-2 to the Solomon Islands. The Cook Islands had to withdraw from the Qualifiers due to COVID-19 outbreak within their team, and thus that match has been relegated to a friendly ex post facto. Therefore, the Cook Islands have been eliminated in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Cook Islands did not compete in the 2019 Pacific Games soccer tournament.

American Samoa: American Samoa is an interesting national team as their national soccer team has gone from periods of ups to periods of downs. American Samoa vastly improved in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, finishing 2-0-1, but being eliminated on Goal Differential. However, in the 2019 Pacific Games, American Samoa finished 0-1-4 with their tie coming against Tuvalu, 1-1, and an overall goal differential of -34 across 5 matches. American Samoa showed some promise for 2022, but withdrew and thus have been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Tonga: Tonga withdrew from the Qualifiers due to the 2022 Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai eruption and tsunami, and thus, Tonga has been eliminated in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Tonga might be elite in Rugby League Football, and may be very good in Rugby Union Football, , but in soccer, Tonga is not very good. Their last competition took place in the 2019 Pacific Games where Tonga lost all 4 matches in the Group Stage by a combined score of 0-37. Tonga did however play Samoa close with a 0-2 loss. It is difficult to tell who is better between American Samoa and Tonga.

Samoa: Samoa continues to unimpress in soccer after being eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup due to withdrawing. However, Samoa is generally better than Tonga and American Samoa, as well as the Cook Islands. Samoa finished 1-0-3 in the 2019 Pacific Games, and only had a -19 Goal Differential. Furthermore, Samoa has always won at least 1 match at the World Cup Qualifiers for those they enter into. Nonetheless, Samoa is not very good, especially compared to their expertise in Rugby Union, Rugby League, and American Football. American Samoa and Tonga are also known Rugby Union, Rugby League, and American Football stars!

Advanced to the Intercontinental Playoff:

  • New Zealand

Intercontinental Playoffs:

Costa Rica verse New Zealand

Peru verse Australia/UAE

Russia has Crossed Another Line! Next is NATO:

Russia has started to bomb Lviv, Ukraine, the home of the resistance.

Russia should be careful not to push too far, but if they do want complete domination over all of Ukraine, then Lviv would be a good place to eliminate for them, assuming the Russians do not care about human rights.

However, bombing Western Ukraine draws more of the ire of all Western Institutions, and it also creates the desperation of the potential for all-out guerilla warfare.

Russia had the ability of peacefully de jure taking Crimea as support for it in the world community had grown.

If Russia had stopped at just being in the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic controlled areas, and had simply just recognized them, then they probably still would have gotten their wishes over the spectre of a war.

The invasion of Ukraine, as bad as this has been, could have stopped with Russian gains before Kiev.

And, even after Kiev, leaving Lviv free would have still possibly been acceptable.

But, the Russians are now invading everywhere leaving no safe havens.

Ironically, by recognizing Lviv as being Russian according to the Russians, the Russians are acknowledging the modern-day borders of Ukraine because they are recognizing Lviv as being Ukrainian Rus’ land, a point of contention with Polish people and others and a common-day example of people in the West stating Ukraine is just an invention.

The next line the Russians should be careful to cross is going into NATO territory. Once they do this, if they do, they really may be alone for along time and in a losing fight.

But, going into Lviv is the first example of Russia going into the West as Lviv is a Western city, just like Donestk is an Eastern city. This is inexcusable from the current identity perspective President Putin is emanating from his bully pulpit.

This is also a further abuse of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia on the Catholic community, and could have disastrous effects for Syria whose regime has been largely supported by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities there. But, this may be a point of contention, unless the Patriarch of Antioch comes out against this attack on Lviv.

If anyone deserved to take over Lviv, it is either a Lviv-led resurgence of a new independent Galicia, a Polish re-takeover of Lviv, or an Austrian or Hungarian re-take over of Lviv. Russians should not even believe they have rights to Lviv, or they risk asking for too much and taking too much.

Lastly, the Russians should understand that by keeping Lviv separate, the spectre of war might have coerced people into accepting Lviv and Western Ukraine as the new borders of Ukraine, and thus stopped any fighting and a de facto acceptance of Russia’s gains. However, now, Russians will potentially invite the menace of the Resistance into their country, making it very hard for Russia to operate securely.

NATO Please Start Protecting Gotland and Åland, Covertly!

NormanEinstein; Wikipedia

These two islands need covert protection as well as their civilians to be armed.

These are two very important island archipelagos in the Baltic Sea and they desperately need protection from the Russians who are planning to go there. I have stated this since 25 February!

The Russians have not started their invasions yet, and hopefully never do.

But, there are two reasons to arm and protect them before an invasion.

  1. Both provide a threat and with more weapons and more protection, the likelihood of invading these islands fall, which is the ultimate goal, no invasion or war here.
  2. If Russians do invade, both sets of islanders are nationalists to their own island and will fight for it. They could become a strategic nightmare and be the literal straw, given both islands size, that broke the camels back, Russia’s.

Furthermore, there still needs to be more defenses going into Western Ukraine, as well as Poland, Moldova, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and covertly into Finland and Sweden, where Åland and Gotland actually are respectively.

Also, try aligning with the Sápmi people and other ethnic groups in these nations with no country like the Ruthenians, Gypsies, Sorbians, Kashubians, etcetera.

Show the Gypsies and Sorbians how Russia has trended toward more fascist than communist to alert them their minority rights could be at risk too, at least the idea of them being their own independent minority.

But, to Finland and Sweden, especially to Finland, make sure to know this could be a trap. Keep your eyes on Finnish-Russian border and just have “someone” supply protection and arms to Åland. For Sweden, they can afford more military protection of their own in Gotland. Also to Finland, try to pass on messages using common Uralic words to your Uralic brothers and sisters in Russia, especially in Karelia. They could provide a resistance and threat to Saint Petersburg forcing President Putin to overthink or get overwhelmed.

Ukrainian Unity and Support is Massive for Defense of their Country

Ukraine has shown tremendous amounts of unity during this war.

Because of this, Ukraine and its diaspora has been able to supply funds, weapons, and other necessities like military personnel that has helped curb Russian aggression.

But, a factor that most helped is their positivity. According to a Ukrainian poll, 82% of Ukrainians believe they will repel Russia. This amount of belief in their country makes Ukraine much stronger than a nation in low morale like Russia.

This means that the international community is doing a good job to provide Ukraine with hope! And, this also means that if Ukraine can continue this position of being positive, that Ukraine will most likely continue their resistance until they successfully take over all of Ukraine again.

Ukraine should accept some of Russia’s proposals and counter others

Russia has proposed a peace deal that looks like this:

  1. De-nazification and de-militarization of Ukraine.
  2. Ukraine to be a neutral country.
  3. Ukraine recognizes Russian Sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula.
  4. Ukraine recognizes the Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic as two separate independent sovereign states.

1 and 2 are a bit vague. In other words, Russia wants to make sure Ukraine stomps down on their radical factions and really on any building up that goes against Russia. Russia wants to make sure Ukraine’s security forces are not threats to Russia. And, as for #2, Russia wants Ukraine to not join NATO or the EU, and to stay a democratic country where pro-Russian and pro-Western politicians compete, but never push the country into something like NATO.

3 and 4 are good with their descriptions.

Ukraine should accept term #3 completely. Historically and in the present-day, plus according to human rights and the right of people to self-determination, Crimea whole-heartedly belongs to Russia. The pro-Western mob that overthrew a democratically elected Russian-aligned President should have thought about how their actions would force pro-Russian Ukrainians to wish to leave or have greater autonomy. In Crimea, they wanted to be a part of Russia even before this event. Prior to 2014, Crimea was an autonomous area of Ukraine with Russian military there, and thus, Crimea’s reality will not have changed much.

For #4, Ukraine should counter with pushing for Luhansk and Donestk autonomy, or Ukraine should just listen to the demands of the populace there and become a federation like the USA, Canada, Brazil, Russia, and many more countries are, like Belgium. These people want to be in Ukraine, but want to be in a Ukraine where their electoral rights, self-rule, and Russian language are respected. Giving them autonomy or giving the oblasts of Ukraine a federation would do wonders to cement and close this gapin lack of trust that created this mess.

For #2, this should be in the Constitution! Maybe, Ukraine can try to get a concession for it to be allowed to join the EU or NATO and not both. This would most likely mean Ukraine could be a part of the EU, but not NATO. However, a simple agreement to #2 would keep Ukraine the way it was pre-war, a win for all sides.

For #1, Ukraine should object to this. Or, maybe they can slightly agree to it. Maybe they can make certain gestures to Russia to show they do wish to make life better for Russians and punish those who are merely filled with hate.

Lastly, an interesting twist would be for Ukraine to accept #4, and make these states into buffer states for Russia and Ukraine, if Ukraine gets to join NATO, EU, and function as an independent country. In other words, since Ukraine has done well without Donestsk and Luhansk, maybe it would best for Ukraine to trade #4 for disagreeing to #2.

The ball is in Ukraine’s court. Ukraine should act fast and agree to #3, disagree to #1, and qualify #2 and #4.

Russophobia is not helpful

Being against President Putin and some of his supporters in the Ukrainian Invasion, sure is helpful!

But, being against Russians simply because they are Russian is not good.

This goes for Russian Oligarchs too.

We need to mobilize a Russian resistance, and thus we need to be careful the collective punishments we choose for Russians!

Does there need to be some sort of collective punishment? Unfortunately, probably there does need to be for numerous of reasons, but we cannot go too far, and also, we need to reform our rhetoric!

During the War on Terror, our rhetoric went from it is not all Muslims to banning Muslims from the US. Henceforth, let us not make this a banning all Russians. Let us make sure we support Russians and their right to choose their leaders. And the same goes for Belarus and Belarusians.

This Invasion is an effective genocide of Ukrainians

President Putin does not consider Ukrainians a real people or Ukraine a real country.

Thus, his hopes are to conquer these people fully by any means necessary.

By labeling his opponents as neo-Nazis and Western agents, he is able to dehumanize them to the point that countless civilian casualties is okay!

He wishes to erase their culture. The de-Nazification part is simply de-Ukrainian.

But, it is not just President Putin. It is the Russian Orthodox Church and its clergy including Partiarch Kirill of Moscow!

Patriarch Kirill and other clergy have also called on Russia and Ukraine to be one. He wants to end the idea of Ukraine being separate from Russia in all things including religion. He wants Ukrianians to be under the Russian Orthodox Church and not on their own.

Thus, the Russian State has isolated itself around the world in favor of erasing Ukriane and Ukrainians. The Russian Orthodox Church has committed a schism with the Eastern Orthodox Church by wanting to erase Ukraine and Ukrainians too.

Make no mistake, the plan is to destroy and erase Ukraine, and both actors will do and justify anything they can to win.

This is why Russians are indiscriminately bombing cities and killing civilians, plus firing upon nuclear power plants. Russia will attempt to win no matter the costs to their international standing.

This is why we must worry! It can get worse and probably will, unless something or someone changes in Russia itself. We need a change of heart fast or a change of leadership.

Shed some Sympathy for Russians too

The Russian people are suffering too!

Their loved ones are being killed.

Their country is receiving lots of hate.

Their pride is at an all-time low!

Their money may get to an all-time low!

Their leader is harassing them for their protesting and dissent!

Their leader might bring them into nuclear war!

It is a mess there too!

Most Russians are amazing people who are very friendly.

They have talented athletes, actors/actresses, musical artsits, artists, scholars, scientists, and so much more like amazing cooks! Russians have the ability to make really good Italian and American food believe it or not.

The Russians have some of the most spectacular cities from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to Kazan and all the way to Vladivostok and down to Sochi!

The Russians have a very diverse population too, native to their country from Buddhist Mongolic Kalmyks to Finno-Uralic Karelians to Turkic Muslim Tartars, and of course, Slavic Eastern Orthodox Russians! They have many more people groups than this.

The point is, Russia is a fantastic place to love and not to hate!

You can dislike their government or their leaders, but try to be nice to Russians, especially those that have left for a better life abroad. They probably left because they did not like the actions of some of the people in their former country just like you do not!

Russian Invasion of Ukraine proves Republicans and Swiss Right on National Security/2nd Amendment

Republicans’ pro-2nd Amendment stance is a big winner coming from the Ukraine War.

Had Ukrainians had their weapons sooner, Ukraine would have been better prepared to fight the Russians.

The Republican stance often seems a bit idealistic, but the way the Swiss do it often does not.

Why?

Because the Swiss seem smart while the Republicans are stereotyped in media as only caring about “God, Guns, and Country”.

There is a reason Switzerland is never invaded and that is because everyone there knows how to use a gun (okay, not everyone I am sure, but a lot), and they are fortified by mountains and these mountains have weapons built into them. Plus, who wants to ruin an Alpine skiing paradise? But back on topic.

When you attack Switzerland, you attack a country armed!

When you attack most other countries, you have to wait for the inefficiencies of military, police, security guards, etcetera.

But, we do need to address the elephant in the room, and no it is not Republicans, but it is something far less fun than a party, and those are school shootings and other mass shootings! Republicans need to find a message and policy that works for the American people if they want to be so pro-2nd Amendment. I suggest putting more security around the schools that are very covert, but also some that are overt to show strength. Americans spend so much money on schooling for kids, and school safety should be the highest expenditure. Therefore, with all the retired American veterans who are jobless, the ones that pass intense background checks, they should be hired as extra school security guards! And, since the NSA, FBI, and CIA spy on Americans anyway, mine as well put some secret agents in schools. And no, this is not a joke. It very much needed to happen many years ago.

Furthermore, like Switzerland, but probably in a different way, the USA should incentivize gun training for each American citizen. That way, they can defend themselves.

Furthermore, security needs to be at malls and other places too. If having guns saves a country from invasion, then America needs the guns, but if it makes the country more dangerous, then America needs more security. Instead, many push for less in both.

Definitely a Partisan Post, but it is true

Okay, and this 100% partisan and very Conservative, plus based on an unscientific Twitter Poll that may seem absolutely ridiculous to show, but it actually is not. It shows that self-described Conservatives in the USA would protect the USA at a 91+% if a country ever was attacked. You may be thinking that is less than 50%, but taking into account that less than 50% of Americans still is bigger than Russia in population, the ninth largest country in the world, that is impressive. Imagine if 100+% of Russians were ready to fight an invasion, you probably would not invade. That is the point.

POLL: 91.8% Of Americans Would Carry Out ‘Red Dawn’ Style Attacks If The USA Was Invaded

The only question becomes will other Americans fight against the USA, or not? Hopefully, they will just stay back, because at the rate of people that would fight, the USA would readily win if someone invaded, barring a major upset for the other side.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) Showed brilliant diplomatic language in Russia-Ukraine War so far:

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had a very professionally worded diplomatic message for the Ukraine and Russia War, and in English!

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan also showed a good seal, and really nice colors. This may seem trivial, but this is very important because for so long, the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was so dull in everything they did. You know how people complain about the NFL being the No Fun League, well the Taliban was that but for leading a country. So, believe it or not, but nice colors can actually be a turning point in the Taliban led Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the command of the English language and the seal in English suggest that English speakers are employed or are outsourced by the Taliban, another good sign because if English is used more, even if for diplomatic reasons, this suggests another sign of a move away from radicalism.

And lastly, their concern over Afghan students and migrants in the region displays a deeper connection with the diaspora that before would have come across as enemies for having left or for having different ideals. The Taliban appear to show genuine concern and an ability to be a normal and high performing diplomatic country with this message. And, their concern for what would have been called “infidel countries” is immensely important! It shows the Taliban now cares for Christians too.

But, remember the source, and it is not Breaking911, rather, it is the Taliban/Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They have been a terrible group of people who constantly lie. Most likely, just like during the war, the Taliban have just found ways to speak to the media to make themselves look good like in this example, when in reality, they are causing many human rights abuses and tons of other horrible things. For example, under the Taliban, Afghanistan has now become the most dangerous place for Christians to live, and women’s rights are extremely limited there if existent at all. But still, this could prove a better Taliban.

Overall, is was a great to see the Taliban changing some of their ways, even if only for fake propaganda.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a big winner from the Ukrainian Crisis, here is why:

Yes, the title is correct and why, because of refugees!

The left wing and Representative Ocasio-Cortez are often accused of supporting refugees to get votes or due to their obsession with non-White and non-Christian populations. These are many of the accusations from the right wing and others closer to center.

And when Democrats do not support things like Voter ID which could decrease a lot of the pushback against refugees coming in, it does make it appear to be this, or in other words, makes it appear they are more for the votes than helping the humanitarian side of the issue.

But, to Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s credit, she tweeted out support for Ukraine and for the USA being prepared for bringing in Ukrainian refugees.

This is important because Ukrainians are often more right-leaning and are White and Christian. This goes against a lot of the prevailing accusations raised against the modern-lefts’ policies for refugees.

Thus, even with the lack of being for Voter ID, Representative Ocasio-Cortez has proved herself to be genuine and principled on the refugee topic, at least with words anyway. That should prove good for her political future. She put people above politics. And, in the USA’s case, it would definitely be good to have more Ukrainians in the USA as they are often hard workers and smart, like most immigrants, and especially refugees.

And, this furthers the narrative Democrats have been trying to preach which is that they are pro-refugee because they care about their humanity. This shows so far in the Ukrainian Crisis.

Russia Invades Ukraine; What Should be Next for the USA, NATO, EU, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Holy See (Catholic Church)

USA and NATO: The USA and NATO need to continue to protect Western Ukraine and Lviv from destruction. Lviv is the best hope for Ukrainian independence right now, as it is the biggest city that is at the highest level of Ukrainian patriotic fervor there is, and is home to many Western facing institutions, most notably, the Ukrainian Catholics. Lviv was one of the areas that sparked the “Rukh” Movement that brought independence to Ukraine. Furthermore, the USA and NATO need to build up protection in Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, in addition to trying to protect Finland covertly as not to raise tensions. Also, the USA and NATO need to have covert operations across more Baltic areas like Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, as well as weaker defended islands like Gotland (Sweden) and the Åland Islands (Finland). If the USA and NATO surround Kallinigrad, Russia’s semi-exclave on the Baltic Sea, then Russia may feel they need to push out putting many areas at risk. There needs to be more weapons handed out on some of these islands, especially the fiercely independent Åland Islanders who could prove a menace to Russia’s ambitions if this happened. The USA and NATO need to exercise the full force of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia to fight off cyber attacks from Russia and need to go on offensive cyber attacks on Russia too, but beware of a trap. The USA and NATO need to be ready to take down Russian satellites or fight off against them enough to lesen Russia’s nuclear capabilities, while also protecting their own satellites. The US Space Force could prove massive for this. The USA and NATO also need to covertly enter Transnistria and Moldova to make sure the Russians are not planning huge attacks from there. Furthermore, while the Russians are focused on Ukraine, the USA and NATO should enter into Belarus covertly, and try to start the Belarusian patriotic movements there, by playing into their fears that Russia sees them as Russian and not separate as well, as evident with Ukraine. The USA and NATO need to keep supplying Ukraine with more weapons, and need to supply Belarusian rebels with weapons as well. The USA does not need to fight directly with Russia, rather just needs to indirectly fight with them. Also, the USA and NATO need to push Bulgaria closer to Greece, and keep Romania fiercely independent, to fight attempts to make these lands Russian led again. Greece may be key in getting most of Eastern Europe on the USA’s side.

The EU: The EU needs to assure their members in the East, or Central Europe as they like to be called, the Visegrád Group that they will respect their internal sovereignty. The EU often appears as too progressive and anti-Christian, and President Putin is banking on the European right wing and conservatives to be part of a Fifth Column for him by sparking fears of an anti-Christian Europe. The Visegrád Group of Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary, are very Christian and Conservative, at least three of those countries are anyway. They provide one of the bulwarks of the EU at this point, and they need reassurances that their sovereignty will be respected by the EU, because culturally at this point, Moscow may seem closer than Brussels for some of the leaders of these nations. The truth is this is not true, but perception is everything. Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Greece will also be happy with this, as will Italy and many conservatives in the EU. So, it will appease many and make the EU stronger, as they will recognize the EU respects sovereignty, while the Russian Federation, and Russian Alliance does not, as apparent with Belarus, Ukraine, and history.

Ukraine: Ukraine needs to keep the belief, keep handing out weapons, and needs to keep fighting. Russia is not likely to drop an atomic bomb on a place they want to conquer because they need it for Russian pride. Thus, the advantage goes to Ukraine, like in risk. Ukraine is the power in Ukraine. If they outlast Russia, they will win, and they can. In fact, this can be a war that ends President Putin’s reign, and brings in a more behaving Russian leader. It could also bring about the opposite. The point is though, if Ukraine keeps supplying their citizens with weapons to fight, then Ukraine will probably win eventually, but only if they do not give up. Furthermore, Ukraine needs to work with its allies to secure Western Ukraine. By keeping Western Ukraine, this creates a de facto sovereign area of Ukraine led by Ukrainians, and keeps the belief and morale alive. Ukraine also needs to employ their Estonian friends to keep helping them out with countering cyber attacks from Russia. While independent Ukrainian contractors could help out with cyber sabotage on Russia, it is probably best to let NATO do this, and for Ukraine to just be on the defense for cyber attacks, as well as the reboots. In the end, if this gets resolved, Ukraine needs to go back to a proper-democracy where all people including those with Russian interests are respected, even if a Russian-aligned leader gets elected, or Ukraine needs to just join NATO! If Russia is weak in the end, Ukraine should just join NATO, but also revamp a proper democracy again with no coups that brought about this fervor to revolt on the side of Russia like what happened in 2014. Yes, Crimea has historically been more Russian and Russian aligned, but the other areas of Ukraine have not. This is a rather new development.

Russia: Russia needs to keep applying pressure. At this point, there is no going back, but eventually, including in the very near future, there may be a stopping point where they sort of can. If Western Ukraine is secured, then most likely, the Ukraine War will turn into the Korean War where there will be a split down the middle, which still favors Russia. Russia would be smart to accept this, as the West has become weak with too many conveniences to fight. But, Russia should really be using Moldova, Belarus, especially Transnistria, the Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, and Crimea, as places to enter Ukraine. It appears they are currently using all of those. If Russia desires Kiev, they may have to settle for a split city too, like in Nicosia in Cyprus, or Berlin when the iron curtain was still up. But, by doing this, Russia will most likely lose the propaganda war, and same with in a split Ukraine. Why? Because Western Ukraine and West Kyiv will be so much nicer most likely, as many Ukrainian refugees will settle in the West and donate to businesses and infrastructure projects in Western Ukraine and Kyiv, that will make it hard for a sanctioned Russia to compete. However, if Kyiv is not split, it may provide enough distance and excuses to pretend that East Ukraine is poor and West Ukraine is rich and that is why Russia’s area is not doing as well. But, this will also sort of make this war useless symbolically as Kiev is the target for Russia. Ironically, the industry is actually in East Ukraine, much like it was in West Germany for the USA. Russians can also covertly plant agents around the West to know the West’s plans, especially at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia, as well as other cyber attack plans. The Russians can also infiltrate weapons handouts and other things in Ukraine to stay one step ahead and more powerful too. Russians can hide within Ukraine in plain sight and pretend they are Ukrainian. Russia should also extend their cyber attacks to the USA and major powers in the EU, while expanding their pro-Christian propaganda and pro-European propaganda (not EU, but Europe) in the Visegrád Group and elsewhere. But, they do not need to do warfare attacks against these groups. Also, if Russia does take over formerly take over Ukraine enough to put in a government, they need to make Ukraine de jure sovereign so they can keep an extra vote in the UN.

Belarus: Belarusian rebels or people that want a new government simply just want a free-democratic country for Belaus. But to do this, they need support and to actually do it. Now may be the perfect time for Belarusians to fight for their freedom while their leaders are distracted with Ukraine and might even be helping people take over them. For Belarus’s dictatorial style government, they should side with Russia and send minimal resources but lots of intelligence and other work to Russia. In the meantime, Belarus’s leaders need to watch for their own citizens or those of others. But back to the Belarusian citizens, they need to use their Belarusian Greek Catholic Church, Catholic Church, and Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Orthodox Church in Ukraine connections to disseminate information out and in. They should push for an autocephalous church in Belarus, and see if their leaders agree, as they still want Belarus to Belarusian, even if deeply tied to Russia. Currently, only the Catholic options seem the most viable, and can reach Poland very fast.

Eastern Orthodox Church: The Eastern Orthodox Church needs to do its best to support the Ukrainian Orthodox autocephalous church. Why? Because the Russian Orthodox Church has already broken away in a schism, and probably will not mind too much more if the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople sides with the Ukrainian autocephalous church, as it already has. So, the only major harm to the Eastern Orthodox Church is to its image as a direct successor to the Apostles and thus Jesus’s Church, and to its many Slavic and Eastern European ethnic groups. First off, the right thing to do would be to criticize Russia for their invasion and to continue to promote the autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is truly first among equals, it needs to act like it! Constantinople unrightfully had Kyiv taken by Moscow’s Patriarchate anyway, so Constantinople just needs to continue to fight this with historical facts, and present-day precedence. Next, they need to do this because if they do not, they risk losing their Eastern Europeans of other Ethnic Groups to the Catholic Church, especially if the Holy See sides with Ukraine! Why? Because the Russians are a threat to many people’s sovereignty, and many have tense relations with Russia on this issue of Russian revanchism, and thus many are part of NATO to stop Russian advancements, even if Russia now is a “Christian nation”. The belief that Ukrainians are really just Russians is offense to North Macedonians, Moldovans, Montenegrins, Estonians, Latvians, Ruthenians, and Belarusians especially who have to go through portrayals of not being real ethnic groups, with relations to Greeks, Bulgarians, and Albanians, Romanians, Serbians, Russians, Russians, Russians, and Russians respectively. The only people who would be happy with Constantinople siding with Moscow, besides Russia itself, would be Serbia. But, probably not. Even though Serbia is a big fan of Russia, they too worry about being usurped by bigger powers. They may see Russia’s attempt to retake Kiev like their attempts to retake Kosovo and Metohija and Republika Srspka, and they may see the Russian Orthodox Church’s attempt to end any movement of Ukrainian Orthodox autocephalousy like their attempts to stop Montenegrin autocephalousy, but overall, a lot of them will probably just see this as unneeded like many Russians do. Russia does not really appear in need to do this. Plus, Serbia is continually looking West. They may join the EU, and are starting to use more Latin Script. Serbia can use Greece as their new Russia, in other words, Greece can be their new Orthodox brothers/sisters. They already see Greece this way, but because Russia has the extra Slavic part, it makes Serbia and Russia closer. Serbia could turn the corner and become like Ukraine or others have been to Russia. Friendly, but on opposing sides, like the former Yugoslavia was a lot.

Holy See: The Holy See needs to support the Ukrainian Catholics while the Catholic charities should help both sides to make people safe and healthy. But, covertly, the Holy See should be supporting Ukrainian Catholics and thus, Ukraine in their fight against Russia. Overtly, the Holy See needs to condemn this act of war and invasion, and state how they wish to see a separate Ukraine and Russia. One reason is the same as the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Catholic Church is Jesus’s Church led by Apostolic Succession, so doing the right thing is very important! Another reason is because Ukraine is heavily Catholic in many regions and thus the Holy See needs to preserve their Catholic freedoms which will be best preserved, at this time, and unless something changes, in Ukraine. Lastly, by siding with Ukraine against the Russian aggressor, the Holy See could probably get an uptick in Greek Catholics and could extend to more regions of the world. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is weak, and this may persuade them to finally sign with the Bishop of Rome so that the Pope becomes first among equals again. Either way, it is a win for supporting Ukraine in every way, but one, and that is an attack on the Russian Greek Catholic Church and Catholics in Russia as a retaliation. Thus, that is why the operations should be clandestine. The public calls need to be for peace and not politics. Mostly, the Holy See needs to use their Catholic connections all over to disseminate intelligence in and out of Ukraine and Belarus.

Each group has a busy few weeks. It will be a difficult battle that should have never been fought.

***** edit: Some interesting points brought up in comments: NATO needs to use satellite capabilities to fight against nuclear capability of Russia. And, Russia needs to preserve the de jure sovereignty of Ukraine if they take them over to keep an extra vote in the UN.

If anyone wants to add or disagree, definitely reply in the comments.

Winter Olympics 2022 – Norway 🇳🇴 wins the Olympic Gold Medal Count!

Norway wins the Winter Olympics by earning the most Gold Medals and Medals in total!

Medal Table: Gold(s); Silver(s); Bronze(s); Total.

  1. Norway: 16; 8; 13; 37
  2. Germany: 12; 10; 5; 27
  3. PR China: 9; 4; 2; 15
  4. USA: 8; 10; 7; 25
  5. Sweden: 8; 5; 5; 18
  6. Netherlands: 8; 5; 4; 17
  7. Austria: 7; 7; 4; 18
  8. Switzerland: 7; 2; 5; 14
  9. Russian Olympic Committee: 6; 12; 14; 32
  10. France: 5; 7; 2; 14
  11. Canada: 4; 8; 14: 26
  12. Japan: 3; 6; 9; 18
  13. Italy: 2; 7; 8; 17
  14. South Korea: 2; 5; 2; 9
  15. Slovenia: 2; 3; 2; 7
  16. Finland: 2; 2; 4; 8
  17. New Zealand; 2; 1; 0; 3
  18. Australia: 1; 2; 1; 4
  19. Great Britain: 1; 1; 0; 2
  20. Hungary: 1; 0; 2; 3
  21. Belgium: 1; 0; 1; 2, Czech Republic: 1; 0; 1; 2, and Slovakia: 1; 0; 1; 2
  22. Belarus: 0; 2; 0
  23. Spain: 0; 1; 0; 1 and Ukraine: 0; 1; 0; 1
  24. Estonia: 0; 0; 1; 1, Latvia: 0; 0; 1; 1, and Poland: 0; 0; 1; 1

Norway did very well to win the Gold Medal Count and Total Medal Count in Beijing 2022. This continues the Norwegians dominance in the Winter Olympics, of which they hold the record total most amount of Winter Olympic Gold Medals and Winter Olympic Medals. Norway has now won or tied the Gold Medal Count the last 3 Olympics. In 2014, Norway and Russia had a joint 14 Golds, but Russia edged out Norway on Silver Medals and thus Russia won the count. In 2018, Norway and Germany both had 14 Golds, with Norway edging out Germany on Silver Medals, thus Norway won the count. This time in 2022, Norway was by far the winner with 16 Golds, 4 more than Germany who had the next most. Norway finished with the highest amount of Gold Medals won at a Winter Olympics at 16. Before, it was at 14. However, this is partly due to there being more Gold Medal events now, at 109. But, Norway also has the highest Gold Medal count when adjusted for inflated Gold Medals set during the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. There, Norway won 43% of all Gold Medals.

Germany did well again to battle for the top of the Gold Medal Count and overall Medal Count too. Germany has the third most amount of Gold Medals and Medals all-time at the Winter Olympics, and then when you add in East Germany (13th all-time) and West Germany (18th all-time), it is even higher. Germany has been performing towards the top of the Winter Olympics for some time now. Germany keeps dominating the sliding sports (luge, skeleton, and bobsled) and Germany has lots of potential in other winter sports to improve their worth and compete with Norway more.

PR China had a very impressive Winter Olympics and were one of the standouts from this year. PR China had won 13 total Gold Medals before the 2022 Winter Olympics. PR China got 9 Gold Medals in this Olympics alone! That means roughly 41% of all PR Chinese Gold Medals at the Winter Olympics came during the 2022 Winter Olympics. PR China achieved a lot of success using naturalized athletes such as Eileen Gu, who won 2 Gold Medals. PR China still has a lot to work on, but their main goal should be how to keep their current form going. PR China’s 9 Gold Medals are the most by any Asian team at a single Winter Olympics. PR China had an interesting strategy, which is sort of everybody’s, but PR China and New Zealand really exercised this. At least 60% of both countries medals won were Gold Medals, more than any other country. In contrast, the Russian Olympic Committee finished second in overall medals and Canada finished fourth in overall medals, but only less than 17% of the Russian Olympic Committee’s medals were Gold Medals and less than 16% of Canada’s medals were Gold Medals! Thus, Chinese Efficiency seemed to reign supreme this Olympics because when they went for medals, they went for Golds!

For now, the USA finished fourth on the Gold Medal Count, but if investigation proves the Russian Olympic Committee did knowingly cheat in figure skating, then the USA might move up to third on the Gold Medal Count for 2022. Regardless of these investigations, the USA has to be proud that they stayed within a fighting chance until part way through last week to win the Gold Medal Count. The USA suffered from many athletes underperforming at the Winter Olympics 2022, and unlike in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this past summer, the USA did not have enough events to comeback and win the Gold Medal Count on. There were no real upsets. Unfortunately for the USA, lots of upsets happened on them. The USA needs to figure out why they are not reaching their full potential in Winter Sports. It first has to do with accessibility of course, and the USA needs to find ways to make winter sports training more applicable in non-snowy areas. And, the USA is not alone in needing to do this, rather most of the world needs to do this. It is just that the USA has the resources to really do this to the extreme.

Sweden did well to finish toward the top of the count, but Sweden should be disappointed their Norwegians neighbors are doing so much better than them, as are the PR Chinese!

The Netherlands will be happy to have dominated speed skating and finish so high on the count. Austria and Switzerland both finished high as well, but considering the Winter Olympic Capitals are them and Norway, as the Swiss and Austrian Alps are widely regarded as the best skiing mountains, I think a finish below PR China should concern both nations.

The Russian Olympic Committee may have only won 5 Gold Medals, but regardless, pending investigation, they will stay with the second highest amount of medals. They should be happy with their medal count, but disappointed so many medals were not Gold. They need to figure out how to improve their lack of Gold Medals for next time.

France did do well to finish so high. France has potential to achieve higher, and I think will in neighboring Italy for the 2026 Winter Olympics, especially after they will come off of hosting their own 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Canada is a lot like the Russian Olympic Committee. Both seemed to have the conundrum of being experts in all, but masters in none, well actually masters in a lot, but not really compared to how many medals they had! Canada will need to improve their Gold Medals for the 2026 Winter Olympics. After all, the whole country is practically a snow paradise so them and Russian cannot play the “these sports are only for Norwegians” card.

Japan started off well, and then did not finish on a high note. Same with Italy. Italy needs to improve for when they host the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in 2026. And, South Korea did well to keep up their good form from their Winter Olympics they hosted in 2018. All three of these nations have hosted the Winter Olympics, but are not reaching their full potential in earning Gold Medals right now. However, Japan did earn their highest ever Total Medal Count at any Winter Olympics ever, even if it did not come with as many Golds as in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018 or Nagano, Japan in 1988. The Japanese earned 5 more Medals than in 2018, their previous best Winter Olympics in terms of Total Medals. This is following Japan’s best ever Gold Medal Count and Total Medal Count at any Summer Olympics in their own 2020 Tokyo Olympics this past Summer! And, South Korea continued their streak of winning at least 2 Gold Medals at every Winter Olympics since Albertville, France in 1992. And, in Italy’s 2022 defense, they did win their second most amount of Total Medals ever at any Winter Olympics.

Slovenia did well in the opening of this Olympics to earn 2 Gold Medals, but they did not do much after. For a small country, and considering their Croatian neighbors did not even achieve a medal, this is not the worst performance by Slovenia and is actually their best Winter Olympics in terms of the Gold Medal Count as only in Sochi in 2014 did Slovenia win more medals, but less Silvers and the same amount of Golds. But, for an Alpine nation, you would expect more. Finland, same thing. The Finnish will probably forget that they did not achieve much because 1 of their 2 Golds came in men’s ice hockey. Because of this Gold, Finland will look back at this Olympics with resounding success! And not just because of this, but also because Finland actually did their best since 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA. This is quite disastrous for such a snowy nation, but all you can do is improve and that is what Finland is doing.

New Zealand did very good to finish so high, considering they had never won a Winter Olympic Gold before this Olympics. This was New Zealand’s best ever Winter Olympics as New Zealand won half of all their Winter Olympic Medals and all of their Winter Olympic Gold Medals in 2022. Now New Zealand has 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 2 Bronze Medals at the Winter Olympics. The Southern Hemisphere has so much untapped potential in the Winter Olympics as Glacier hotspots like New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile have not really done well at the Winter Olympics, and are countries that really could conceivably host the Winter Olympics if the IOC allowed one to happen in the Summer. Australia achieved more medals than their rivals, but less Gold Medals. While this was not Australia’s best Gold Medal Count at the Winter Olympics, Australia did achieve their highest Total Medal Count at any Winter Olympics in 2022. Great Britain got their only Gold Medal on the last day of competition. Great Britain should be better, but they do well in the Summer Olympics so the British should not complain too much, but definitely more than a little.

Hungary had their most successful Winter Olympics in Beijing as the Hungarians got their second Winter Olympics Gold Medal all-time, their first coming in 2018, and got two bronze medals too! Hungary had never won more than one medal at a single Winter Olympics before. Hungary now has 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 6 Bronze Medals at the Winter Olympics in total. Hungary is a country to watch for in the future because they too should be good in the Winter Olympics, and for the record, the Hungarians are good in the Summer Olympics so they have a lot more Olympic Gold Medals and Total Medals when the Summer Olympics are included.

Belgium had their second most successful Winter Olympics ever, after St. Moritz in 1948, where the Belgians won one Gold Medal and one Silver Medal. This was Belgium’s first Gold Medal since 1948, and second overall, and Belgium now has 2 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 4 Bronze Medals at the Winter Olympics. While less successful than the Hungarians in the Olympics, the Belgians also have many more Olympic Gold Medals and Total Medals when the Summer Olympics are included.

The Czechs had their worst Winter Olympics as an independent country since Lillehammer in 1994, their first Winter Olympics as an independent country. This is following their most successful Summer Olympics ever in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which actually happened this past summer in 2021. Slovakia did not improve this Winter Olympics either, but unlike their Czech siblings, the Slovakians did not have their worst Winter Olympics ever, and have continued their streak of 4 straight Winter Olympics with a Gold Medal, which started in Vancouver, Canada in 2010. The Slovakians also got their first Medal, a Bronze Medal, in Men’s Ice Hockey, so like the Finnish, the Slovaks will look at the Winter Olympics as an overall success.

Belarus needs to look in the mirror and see that their country is full of snow and should be much better in Winter sports! In 2014 in Sochi, Russia, Belarus won 5 Gold Medals and 6 Total Medals, and even in 2018, Belarus won 2 Gold Medals and 3 Total Medals. 2022 was a step in the wrong direction. Plus, Belarus’s Men’s Ice Hockey Team did not even appear in the Olympics in 2022, which is an even greater disappointment for the former Soviet republic. On the other hand, Spain is a Mediterranean Country whose greatest Winter Sports success is probably hosting the 2015 Winter Universiade. Spain won their first Silver Medal ever at the 2022 Winter Olympics and technically had their second best Winter Olympics, their best being in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan where Spain won their only Olympic Gold Medal so far. Spain’s best Total Medal Count Olympics came in 2018 when they 2 Bronze Medals. Spain’s only other Winter Olympics medal was a Bronze Medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympics.

Ukraine broke their streak of 2 straight Winter Olympics with a Gold Medal. It does not quite make sense why the Ukrainians are super successful in winter sports given their Soviet background and winter climate, but believe it or not, this was tied for the 5th best Winter Olympics ever. Ukraine has only won 3 Gold Medals, 2 Silver Medals, and 4 Bronze Medals all-time. They should have no excuses for not being successful at the Winter Olympics, and neither should Estonia, Latvia, and especially Poland who finish off this list. Neither of these last 3 are good either. Estonia won their first medal since the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This is Estonia’s 4th Winter Olympics to ever win an Olympic Medal, winning 1 Silver in Vancouver, 3 Golds in Turin, Italy in 2006, and winning 1 Gold, 1 Silver, and 1 Bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002. Latvia continued their streak of winning medals at 5 straight Winter Olympics, but only won 1 Bronze in 2022. This is tied for their third best Winter Olympics along with 2006 and 2018. In 2010, Latvia won 2 Silvers, and in 2014, Latvia won 1 Gold, 1 Silver, and 3 Bronze Medals. Poland has competed in every Winter Olympics (1924), and have only won 7 Golds, 7 Silvers, and 9 Bronze Medals. Quite abysmal from such a large and cold country. Poland had their tied for 8th best Winter Olympics with their 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Poland has now won medals at 6 straight Winter Olympics, dating back to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but this is Poland’s worst Winter Olympics in that span.

The top athletes at the Winter Olympics were biathlete Johannes Thingnes Bø (Norway), cross-country skier Alexander Bolshunov (Russian Olympic Committee), and biathlete Marte Olsbu Røiseland (Norway).

Johannes Thingnes Bø (Norway) won 4 Golds and 1 Bronze, winning the Gold Medal Count for individuals at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Johannes Thingnes Bø got 5th Place in the Pursuit, won Bronze in the Individual, and won Gold in the Sprint, Mass Start, Relay, and Mixed Relay! He was dominant at this Olympics!

Alexander Bolshunov (Russian Olympic Committee) tied for the top of the medal count, and finished second overall! He did not start in the Sprint, but won Bronze in the Team Sprint, Silver in the 15 km Individual, and won Gold in the 30 km Skiathlon, 50 km Mass Start, and 4 x 10 km Relay!

Marte Olsbu Røiseland (Norway) also tied for the top of the medal count and finished third overall. She finished 4th in the Relay, won Bronze in the Individual and Mass Start, and won Gold in the Sprint, Pursuit, and Mixed Relay!

Many other athletes performed well, and some such as the Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey Team and Finnish Men’s Ice Hockey Team to name two groups had 100% Gold Medal Winning rates as they only competed in these events.

Overall, congrats to all the nations on this list, and athletes who medaled.

There were only 29 nations that won a medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, and only 327 Medals up for grabs, with a few extra for team events as multiple medals are given out for one event in these.

This Olympics will be remembered as the first Winter Olympics to take place in the People’s Republic of China, as well as the first time a city, Beijing, has hosted both the Summer (2008) and Winter (2022) Olympics. Of course, this is debatable, if Beijing even counts as a city. Furthermore, this may signal the rise of a new winter sports giant, the People’s Republic of China. Norway, Germany, the USA, and Russia all better be aware of the sleeping giant who is no longer in hibernation.

Finland 🇫🇮 Wins Men’s Ice Hockey 🏒 Gold 🥇- Updates Men’s Ice Hockey at the Winter Olympics 2022

Finland won the Winter Olympics 2022 Gold Medal, their first Gold Medal in Winter Olympics Men’s Hockey! Finland defeated the Russian Olympic Committee 2-1.

The Russian Olympic Committee got silver after their Final loss to Finland.

And, Slovakia won the Bronze Medal after defeating Sweden 4-0 to win their first Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey medal ever as an independent nation!

Gold Medal Final:

Finland 2 Russian Olympic Committee 1

Bronze Medal Final:

Sweden 0 Slovakia 4

Final Standings: Games Played; Wins-Overtime Wins-Overtime Losses-Losses; Goals For-Goals Against; Goal Differential; Points

  1. Finland: 6; 5-1-0-0; 22-8; +14; 17
  2. Russian Olympic Committee: 6; 3-1-1-1; 14-10; +4; 12
  3. Slovakia: 7; 3-1-0-3; 19-16; +3; 11
  4. Sweden: 6; 3-0-2-1; 13-13; 0; 11
  5. USA: 4; 3-0-1-0; 17-7; +10; 10
  6. Canada: 5; 3-0-0-2; 19-9; +10; 9
  7. Denmark: 5; 3-0-0-2; 11-11; 0; 9
  8. Switzerland: 5; 1-0-1-3; 9-15; -6; 4
  9. Czech Republic: 4; 0-2-0-2; 11-12; -1; 4
  10. Germany: 4; 1-0-0-3; 6-14; -8; 3
  11. Latvia: 4; 0-0-0-4; 7-14; -7; 0
  12. PR China: 4; 0-0-0-4; 4-23; -19; 0

Analysis:

Finland: Finland have now won an Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey. Finland did very well to control most of their games, and the games they had to comeback, they still won. Finland had the highest positive goal differential. Finland will be a favorite to win the 2022 World Championship, hosted by Finland. Finland has been a top team for awhile, and this Gold Medal win is a first for the Olympics, while the Finnish have 3 World Championships already.

Russian Olympic Committee: The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) had the best team at the Olympics player for player, and should be disappointed that they lost the Gold Medal Final, but the truth is that the ROC never were the best team in playing at the Olympics. Their Silver Medal performance on a less than stellar Olympics is a testament to the consistently of Russian hockey.

Slovakia: Slovakia earned their 1st Medal at the Winter Olympics in Men’s Ice Hockey! Slovakia has gotten 4th before, and in the World Championships, Slovakia has done well to win 1 World Championship, as well as get 2nd twice and 3rd once. Slovakia’s Olympic Bronze was a sign that Slovakia has a future that is bright and that they can dominate against the best teams!

Sweden: Sweden should be upset to not earn a medal as they were playing like the #2 team in the Olympics going into the semifinals. Sweden’s 0-4 loss showed a lack of focus and possibly a sense of entitlement and lack of respect for the Bronze Medal. But, given the reaction of the Swedes, it appears it was merely a good Slovakian performance. Sweden did very well until the medal rounds.

USA: USA was great in Group play, but their loss to Slovakia displayed American consistent inconsistency to the finest! The USA is consistently inconsistent in ice hockey. It seems like every year, the USA is the best team and then lose in the knockout rounds. Unfortunately in national team ice hockey, there are no 7 game series. So, the USA cannot slip off. The USA continues to do that. Also, the USA must fix their lack of power play scoring.

Canada: Canada did not convert their chances enough against the best teams they played, while they dominated the others. Outside of their opening Germany win, Canada sort of seemed like an outsider to win the whole time, and this proved true. Their World Championship should be better later this year. Their roster was not as strong for the Winter Olympics this year, partly due to bad scouting it appears.

Denmark: Denmark did very well for them this Olympics! They are a team that are improving and continued to show it this Winter Olympics. With the resources in Denmark, the Danish could become a consistently top level ice hockey team.

Switzerland: Switzerland needs to get their stuff together. At a certain point, Switzerland needs to start winning! Switzerland needs to go for Gold! They are that good. But they are playing below the level of many nations they could be better than.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic had an impressive two overtime win streak, but lost to Switzerland in the playoffs round. The Czech Republic should have played better, but in the end, they did lose to a good Switzerland team whose only good game was against the Czech Republic.

Germany: Germany were a favorite at this Olympics given how well they did in 2018 without NHL players at those Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Germany is a very good team at times, but they lacked this at thus Olympics. Germany needs to have a good World Championship so that they can stop this sliding skid before it is too late. Germany kept getting better and so Germany should continue this momentum.

Latvia: Latvia did about as well as they should have. They were competitive in most of their games, except their game against Slovakia. Latvia has a lot to be proud of because it was not their best tournament and they still did not do their worst they could have. Latvia stayed at the highest level level, and showed they have the ability to improve.

PR China: PR China had a new team with lots of naturalized players and showed potential to one day make it to the highest level of the World Championship. PR China’s KHL team, Kunlun Red Star is where all of their players came from. If this continuity continues, PR China could gain enough skill, experience, and chemistry to compete well at this high level. But for now, PR China is in Division 2 A, which is really the 4th level. And it appears that as of now, PR China will not even be competing in this later in the 2022 World Championships.

Favorites for the 2022 World Championship Ice Hockey:

  1. Finland
  2. Canada
  3. Russia
  4. USA
  5. Sweden
  6. Slovakia
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Switzerland
  9. Denmark
  10. Germany
  11. Latvia
  12. Norway
  13. Kazakhstan
  14. Belarus
  15. Italy
  16. Great Britain

Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Updates – Gold and Bronze Medal Game Preview

Semifinals:

Finland 2 Slovakia 0

Russian Olympic Committee 2 (GWS 3-2) Sweden 1

Analysis:

Finland was the superior team to Slovakia going into the game and coming out of the game. Finland scored late in the 1st period and then would not score again until the last minute on an empty net goal. Finland gave up no goals which is commendable, as well as giving up no power plays, but Finland had 3 power plays and did not score on any of them! This could be a major factor in the Gold Medal Game against the Russian Olympic Committee, but luckily for Finland, the Russian Olympic Committee also squandered their power play opportunities in their semifinal. Slovakia did well to stay in the game, but their 3 power plays they gave up should have led to more goals. However, believe it or not, Slovakia outshot Finland. So, Slovakia did more than just stay in the game, Slovakia actually played well enough to win the game. Finland has been playing the best out of any nation thus far at the tournament and are well-deserved to have won and advanced to the Gold Medal Game.

The Russian Olympic Committee won their shootout with Sweden in dramatic fashion being down 0-1 after 2 shots each, coming back and scoring on the 3rd shot to make it 1-1, only for Sweden to then make their 3rd shot, which made it 1-2 in favor of the Swedes. The Russian Olympic Committee would then score on the last opportunity, the 5th shot, to make it 2-2, and a Russian save on the next Swedish shootout shot ensured the game went on. By the 8th shot, the Russian Olympic Committee scored their 3rd shootout goal to go up 3-2, and saved Sweden’s 8th and final attempt to win the shootout and game and advance to the Gold Medal Game. The Russian Olympic Committee did well to go up 1-0 in the 2nd Period and even though they gave up the lead in the 3rd Period, their power play defense looked good as they had given up 0 power play goals as both them and Sweden successfully defended 2 power plays to 0 goals. Sweden was the better team going in, but they were never as skilled and had the potential of the Russian Olympic Committee. The Russian Olympic Committee’s team as it is would be a favorite at these Winter Olympic Games, even with NHL players present. Sweden will be disappointed to have missed out on an opportunity for another Gold Medal. Sweden has lost 2 games this tournament, once in overtime and the other in a shootout. The Russian Olympic Committee did well to win the shot count and control and win the game.

Bronze Medal Game:

19 February; 21:10 (Beijing); 14:10 (Stockholm and Bratislava):

Sweden verse Slovakia

Analysis:

Sweden has won 2 Golds, 3 Silvers, and 4 Bronze Medals at the Winter Olympics for Men’s Ice Hockey! And, Sweden has done very well in the World Championship as well, winning 11 World Championships, finishing runners-up 17 times, and finishing 3rd Place 16 times! But, in 2018, at the Winter Olympics, Sweden lost to Germany in the Quarterfinals after being the top seed at the end of Group play, and then in the 2018 World Championship, Sweden came back with vengeance to win their 11th World Championship and 2nd World Championship in a row. So, 2018 was actually still a success for Sweden, even if the Winter Olympics were not. However, in 2019, the Swedes finished 5th and in 2021, the Swedes finished 9th, contributing to why Sweden is ranked 7th in the IIHF World Rankings. Sweden would very much like to get their 1st medal at the Winter Olympics since 2014 when they lost in the Gold Medal Game. Sweden is one of the best national ice hockey teams and will feel this Bronze consolation prize, while not what they wanted, will suffice for their hard work in Beijing. Meanwhile, Slovakia was part of the 3rd best ice hockey national team, Czechoslovakia, but since then, has not had as much success as their former other half. However, even with this less of successful period since the Velvet Revolution, the Slovakians have actually done quite well. Slovakia has won 1 World Championship, finished 2nd twice at the World Championship, and finished 3rd place once at the World Championship. In the Winter Olympics, Slovakia has made every edition finishing in the top 10 4 of the 7 previous occasions, but their last 2 occasions, Slovakia finished an abysmal 11th! Slovakia best ever finish was in 2010 when they finished 4th Place. Slovakia will be looking for their first Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey medal as an independent nation against Sweden, and Sweden is actually a country they like for ice hockey as that is where the Slovakians won their only World Championship, back in 2002. Slovakia will probably be playing harder and tougher to win, while Sweden will have more of the talent. Sweden will have to make sure to know that Slovakia has greatly improved since they last played each other, but that Finland and the USA also did not play very well against Slovakia so the improvement may be less than what it appears to be. Sweden needs to improve their power play attacking as Slovakia appears to be playing physical to the point that given up power plays is actually part of their strategy, and they have been defending these well/the teams they have been playing have been bad at scoring on these. Both nations will have a difficult game. But, if Sweden can improve their power plays, even just slightly, Sweden may have the ability to put this game away early in 3rd Period, or maybe even in the 2nd Period. While Sweden should win by 1+ goals, Slovakia is very likely to pull off the upset.

Gold Medal Game:

20 February; 12:10 (Beijing); 06:10 (Helsinki); 07:10 (Moscow):

Finland verse Russian Olympic Committee

Analysis:

Finland was the 2nd favorite going into the Winter Olympics while the Russian Olympic Committee was the 1st favorite. However, after Group play, Finland stayed the 2nd favorite while the Russian Olympic Committee became the 4th favorite. And, after the Quarterfinals, Finland was now the 1st favorite and has been since, while the Russian Olympic Committee went from the 3rd favorite in the semifinals to the 2nd favorite now. Yet, favorites do not mean much as the Americans can tell you after their Quarterfinal shootout loss. Finland has been playing the best out of these 2 nations and has the 2nd best team at the Winter Olympics, while the Russian Olympic Committee has been playing worse but has the best team at the Winter Olympics. While the Finnish took a step backwards from their previous dominance against Slovakia, the Russian Olympic Committee got better against Sweden to win. Still, Finland played better to win in regulation, while the Russian Olympic Committee had to rely on shootouts to win and advance to the Gold Medal Game. However, the Finnish were not playing as good of a team and got outshot, while the Russian Olympic Committee were playing the better team and outshot their opponent, Sweden. As you can tell, there are reasons to pick both nations. That is why both are in the Gold Medal Final! The Russian Olympic Committee are the defending Gold Medalists from 2018. Russia was formerly apart of the Soviet Union which was the best or 2nd best national ice hockey team depending on how you measure it, but since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has not been as successful, but still successful compared to most. Russia has won 5 World Championships, finished 2nd 3 times, and finished 3rd 5 times at the World Championship. Russia has won 1 Olympic Gold Medal, 1 Olympic Silver Medal, and 1 Olympic Bronze Medal at the Olympics. While Russia has never finished outside the top 6 at the Winter Olympics, their lack of medals, especially in 2014 when they hosted the Winter Olympics, has made Russians very upset. That is why their 2018 Gold Medal win was important for so many reasons! It was their 1st Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal as an independent Russia, and it was their 1st Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Medal since 2002 in Salt Lake City, USA. Finland, on the other hand, luckily, was never part of the Soviet Union and thus was able to keep all of their records without controversy. However, this has meant a less illustrious history for Finland. Finland is a strange ice hockey nation, as the Finns are very good at ice hockey and ice hockey is very popular there, and Finland is part of the “Big Six” of ice hockey, even though their first top 3 finish in the World Championship or Olympics came in 1988, a Silver Medal at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Before that, Finland finished 4th place 9 times in the World Championship and 2 times in the Winter Olympics. In Finland’s defense, they did finish top 6 a lot in these tournaments prior to 1988. Since 1988, Finland has been really good though at medal finishes. In the Winter Olympics, Finland has achieved 1 more Silver Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey in 2006 in Turin, Italy, while also achieving 4 Bronze Medals, most recently in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. In the World Championship, Finland has earned 3 3rd Place finishes, 9 2nd Place finishes, and have won the World Championship 3 times! Finland is now a perennial World Championship and Olympic Favorite for Medals, and World Championship Favorite for winning the World Championship. But, for the Olympics, Finland is still without a Gold Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey! This is something that Finland will hope to change in their Gold Medal Game with their Gulf of Finland neighbors, Russia, or rather, the Russian Olympic Committee for this tournament. The political, cultural, and military history of these 2 nations goes way back to the point that parts of Russia still consists of people who speak the same language family as Finland does, the Uralic Language Family. And in ice hockey, these 2 nations also trace back their histories together quite a ways. These 2 nations are not only ice hockey rivals, but also bandy rivals, a sport similar to ice hockey played on an ice oval the size of a football field. And, Russia/the Soviet Union often gets the better of Finland in both sports. Finland has been the better nation lately though in ice hockey, winning the 2019 World Championship in Slovakia and finishing 2nd Place at the 2021 World Championship in Latvia. In bandy, okay, maybe Russia still has got the better of Finland, but nonetheless, Finland is playing well in ice hockey. Finland will hope to win to also gain momentum heading into the 2022 World Championship being held in Finland in May. Finland is the better team playing going into the game, while the Russian Olympic Committee is the better team player for player going into the game. The game is a toss up either way, but Finland should win by 1 goal. Finland will need to try to outscore the Russian Olympic Committee, while the Russian Olympic Committee will need to try to make the game low scoring. Both can play the other way, but a low scoring game and a shootout favors the Russians while a high scoring game and overtime favors the Finnish.

Favorites:

  1. Finland
  2. Russian Olympic Committee

Eliminated:

  • Sweden
  • Slovakia
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Latvia
  • PR China

Updates on 2022 Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament – Semifinals

USA 2 Slovakia 3 (0-1 GWS)

Russian Olympic Committee 3 Denmark 1

Finland 5 Switzerland 1

Sweden 2 Canada 0

Analysis:

The USA wasted their chances away as David Quinn had one of the worst coaching jobs of all-time. The USA knew they had power play scoring issues and they did not improve these and even got worse! They knew they had trouble with an opposing open net and did not improve this. The USA should have also known how to take penalties, but kept going to the glove side and shooting at the glove side, along with some half-powered attempts the other way. The USA looked to be the best team because they did not look good in terms of Hockey technique and strategy, but were elite despite these. They had two days to correct these mistakes, and did not. They had a 5-3, and multiple 5-4 opportunities and 0 goals. The USA had a 4-4 opportunity with superior speed and did not accomplish a goal. Even in overtime with a 3-3 opportunity, the Americans once again could not use their athleticism to their advantage. Lots of improvements need to be made for American Ice Hockey or else, the USA will continue to be the best team in the world until when it matters most, the knockout rounds. The USA will again be a favorite in the 2022 World Championships, and for an American ice hockey fan, those cannot come soon enough.

Slovakia played well at times, such as with their goalie, but should have lost by at least 3 goals. Any team left will most likely crush them if the Slovakians give them as many power plays and opportunities as the Americans were given. Slovakia even got away with another high stick toward the end of the game. The Slovakians will be looking to win their first Gold Medal as an independent nation later this week. They can do it, but not playing like they did against the USA.

The Russian Olympic Committee did well to gain a 2 goal win. By scoring on a power play in the 3rd Period late, the Russians did what the Americans did not and that was put the game away. The Russians still do not look too impressive, but are still in the tournament with the best roster.

Denmark missed an opportunity to win a medal in Olympic Ice Hockey as the Russian Olympic Committee was not playing too well, and not many others were. The Danish should have capitalized on this more, but regardless, Denmark played far above anyone’s expectations, besides their own presumably. The Danish are miles ahead where they were expected to be from the outside looking in, and can use their positive momentum to do well at the 2022 World Championship.

Finland was dominate over Switzerland and once again looks like the favorites after the USA were eliminated. Finland has an elite offense and their defense was strong to hold a resurgent Switzerland to 1 goal.

Switzerland had a difficult tournament and only won 1 game. They continue to do bad from the last World Championship. Switzerland should have been better with the lack of NHL players and how good the Swiss League is. However, Finland is so good, so a knockout against Finland is not so bad.

Sweden did well to hold the Canadians to 0 goals, and their 3rd Period saw 2 goals in the final 10 minutes to win against Canada. Sweden’s offense was lacking, but their defense was solid. Sweden has a tough game next, but should win.

Canada: Canada was impressive in their wins, and uninspiring in their losses. Canada missed so many opportunities against the USA and then scored 0 goals against Sweden. Their 5 goal games and Germany and PR China and their 7 goal game against PR China the 2nd time. Their average margin of victory was +4.75 goals while their average margin of loss was -2 and 1 goal for on average. Canada’s lack of NHL players did not help, but their player selection was not good for the talent they do have overseas. Last Winter Olympics, Canada got bronze in men’s ice hockey with a better overseas selection.

Semifinals:

18 February (PR China Time):

Finland verse Slovakia

Russian Olympic Committee verse Sweden

Analysis:

Finland should defeat Slovakia because Finland is the best team left from a performance at the tournament perspective. From a talent perspective, only the Russian Olympic Committee is better and Finland is much better than Slovakia. However, Slovakia did play well against Latvia and Germany. Against the USA, Slovakia played bad and still won because the USA played worse. But, Slovakia is no easy opponent. Both of these nations are going for their first Gold medal, but Slovakia has one Gold medals before with their Czech neighbors as Czechoslovakia. Finland should win by 1+ goal.

The Russian Olympic Committee is the most talented team at the Olympics and has the best lineup. But, Sweden has been playing much better. Sweden is the better team right now and should win. The Russian Olympic Committee will try to make it to 2 straight Gold Medal games. The Russian Olympic Committee won the 2018 Gold Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey at the Winter Olympics. Sweden should win by 1+ goal.

Favorites:

  1. Finland
  2. Sweden
  3. Russian Olympic Committee
  4. Slovakia

Eliminated:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Latvia
  • PR China

The Rams Proved What it Means to Keep Pushing

The Rams are one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.

The Rams won their first NFL Championship in 1945 as the Cleveland Rams. The Rams called Cleveland, Ohio home from 1936-1945.

The Rams would then move to Los Angeles, California where they called home from 1946-1994.

In 1951, the Rams would win their second league championship, the NFL Championship again. This was their first and only league championship in LA prior to Sunday night, and was won with a Tom Fears touchdown! Tom Fears was the quintessential Angeleno, having come from UCLA via Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

The Rams would continue playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum winning the NFL Western Conference in 1955, the NFC Coastal Division in 1967 and 1969, the NFC West Division in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979, and the NFC in 1979.

The Rams would move to Anahiem, California in neighboring Orange County, still within the LA Metro Area in 1980. Their Anaheim stadium was built for baseball and was not the best football stadium, but early on, that did not matter much as the Rams kept winning. The LA Rams continued their successes with a 1985 NFC West Division title and 7 playoff appearances, but nothing after 1989. The late Anaheim years brought about a destruction to the LA franchise, and their owner moved them away to St. Louis, Missouri for 1995.

The St. Louis Rams became dominant within 5 years. The St. Louis Rams would miss the playoffs early on, and then would win the NFC West, NFC, and their first Super Bowl and third league Championship in 1999!

The Rams would follow up this incredible season with trips to the 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004 playoffs, with NFC West titles in 2001 and 2003, and a NFC Championsip and Super Bowl appearance in 2001.

However, the St. Louis Rams would not make the playoffs again after 2004.

The St. Louis Rams would quickly fall out of favor with St. Louis. Their 20 year old stadium would become ranked toward the bottom of the NFL and players would complain about the turf, setup, and injuries. The attendance became one of the lowest, and St. Louis itself kept experiencing more and more bad press as murder rates went higher and crime soared. For the former #2 city of the USA, St. Louis soon fell out of favor with the Missouri born Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, who basically demanded a very unrealistic stadium. When this was not met, and really, any proposal was probably not good enough, Stan Kroenke decided to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, the current #2 city of the USA.

The Rams left to come back to LA in 2016, where they moved into the LA Memorial Coliseum again! The Rams would go 3-13 their first season back, but 2017 was a great season where the Rams would win the NFC West, and then in 2018, the Rams won the NFC and made another Super Bowl appearance, followed by a 2019 season without playoffs.

The Rams would move to Inglewood, California in Los Angeles County and the LA Metro Area to play at their current home of SoFi Stadium for the 2020 season. Unfortunately, the Rams had no fans due to COVID-19, but the Rams would still have a good season making it to the NFC Divisional Round (2nd Round) of the Playoffs.

In the off-season, the Rams brought in Matthew Stafford and a few others. This was huge. The Rams would do very well in the 2021 season, winning the NFC West at a 12-5 record, and would have a fantastic playoff run winning the NFC Championship! But, the Rams were not done yet! The LA Rams would go onto win the Super Bowl 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals with a Super Bowl winning touchdown in the last 2 minutes! The Los Angeles Rams would win their first Super Bowl while in LA, and did it at their new stadium, SoFi Stadium!

The Rams fans have been through a lot over the years, moving cities, counties, and states, missing playoffs for many many years, being the worst team, and now the best! It has been lots of ups and downs.

And, these ups and downs follow the metro region they call home, as well as its players.

For LA Area Football fans, the 1990s and early 2000s were not as kind for a lot of teams. Yes, UCLA did very well in the late 1990s, and then USC would start to do very well in the late early 2000s. But, during these years, LA saw Cal State Northridge (2001), Cal State Fullerton (1992), and Cal State Long Beach (1991) all lose their football teams, in addition to the Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Rams leaving LA, both in 1994.

UCLA and USC became the only games in town! These were LA’s highest level of football, even though many LA Metro Area players would dominate the NFL during this time span.

As for the NFL, some Rams fans stayed Rams fans, many Raiders fans stayed Raiders fans, and plenty of people became San Diego Chargers fans, the closest NFL team to LA at the time. But, many chose a different team. Some even made a stretch to call the Dallas Cowboys a home team due to their pre-season training being in Oxnard, California in nearby Ventura County, also in the LA Metro Area. But for the most part, the NFL and LA became detached. The “I like college football better” saying was most popular during the Fall. And unfortunately, this was keeping in mind that the ability to watch high level college football also decreased to 2!

And, when the Rams came back to LA in 2016, it was not met with so much happiness. Many Angelenos were happy, true, but many were not. They saw the Rams as bad and many would stay rooting for the teams they had adopted or grew up rooting for for the youths. Going to Rams games early on at the Coliseum was met with probably like 30% of people in Rams gear, 20% in away team gear, and 50% in random team gear. In 2017, when the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, this was even met with more unpopularity as many people in the LA Metro Area have ties to San Diego. The Chargers would have an even worse percentage of Chargers fans to away team and random team fans, and this was at the 30,000 seat stadium they played at for the LA Galaxy of the MLS.

But, that all started to change shortly. The Rams would become good in 2017! The Chargers would garner more fans in 2018 when they would become good. The 2018 year saw the Rams and Chargers dominate. Still, their fan situation and stadium situation was not the best, but they did well on the field creating more hype around their teams.

By the time SoFi Stadium opened up, the Rams and Chargers both felt like hometown teams. They had gone through training camps in the area, had invested heavily in things like youth football and many after-school programs, and had brought in extra business and excitement to the LA Metro Region. People in Thousand Oaks (Rams) and Costa Mesa (Chargers) get to drive past their local teams training facilities, while a flight out of LAX means a view of the new stadium in Inglewood. And, with the first year in SoFi Stadium being without fans, this meant that both sets of fans, as well as the whole LA Area was ready to check out the most expensive stadium in the World!

Jan 3, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; A general view of SoFi Stadium during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 18-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
A photo taken of SoFi Stadium at night by a Reddit user, as they flew over the stadium on their flight to or from LAX.

The Rams had the team hype, while the Chargers had the young quarterback hype. Both teams went back to their traditional colors, which most fans liked better, at least in the Southern California region. The Rams did change their logo, which was not met with great applause, but soon, that did not matter. The team looked good and their uniforms were good. The logo has grown on most fans as well.

For football fans in Los Angeles, and a sports fan in Los Angeles, this was a dream come true! The most successful sports league was in LA, as well as the most expensive stadium in sports, and the most popular single domestic game in sports, the Super Bowl, was coming to LA too!

While the Chargers barely missed the playoffs, their season was still fun to watch, but for the Rams, their team was spectacular winning the current hardest division in football, the NFC West! The Rams would defeat the Arizona Cardinals in the Wildcard Round, then the Rams would defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions and Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round, and then the Rams defeated archrivals San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship!

Not only was LA hosting the Super Bowl, LA would be in the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl LVI logo next to “Kroenke Lake” at SoFi Stadium. From The LA Times.

If there were any doubts that LA had NFL football, those were gone! 70+ thousand people would be watching at SoFi Stadium in the most important football game of the year, the Super Bowl! Even more would be tuning in to watch NFL football on TV that was being kicked off in LA. The whole world would come to know LA for football!

And, just like a Hollywood movie, the Los Angeles Rams would comeback to win the Super Bowl in the final 2 minutes of the NFL season! The Rams would win their first Super Bowl while in Los Angeles, and their second league title in Los Angeles overall.

Cooper Kupp Scores the Rams’ Game Winning Touchdown. From New York Post.
Aaron Donald successfully rushes the Bengals’ Joe Burrow into a bad throw to force a turnover on downs as the Rams would be able to take a knee and win the Super Bowl on their next offensive possession.

Not only would LA be known for football, it would now be known for being the best in football!

LA Rams are Super Bowl Champions. From The Guardian.

As for the players and coaches, they have had to go through a lot of ups and downs too.

Rams starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, played for 12 seasons in the NFL going 0-3 in playoffs during that time span. Having never won a playoff game meant that Matthew Stafford would never be remembered among the great quarterbacks, even with good numbers. Having been traded to the LA Rams was a big risk for his legacy and the Rams as the Rams had to give up a lot, and if Matthew Stafford did not win, he would be remembered as having not won on a team stacked with talent, ending the excuses of him not having won because of his lack of talented teammates on the Detroit Lions. Winning the Super Bowl cemented Matthew Stafford’s legacy as a top quarterback.

Cooper Kupp was a 0 star rated high school player who only had two collegiate offers and chose Eastern Washington in the lower division 1, FCS, or in regular people terms, the second level. Cooper Kupp excelled there and would do well enough to get drafted to the Rams in 2017. Since then, he has been a key part of the LA Rams. And, this season, he had arguably the best season as a wide receiver ever, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He earned the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award and the Super Bowl MVP after scoring the Super Bowl winning Touchdown.

Cooper Kupp with the Vince Lombardi Trophy for Winning the Super Bowl, and being told he was Super Bowl MVP.

Odell Beckham Jr. has been arguably the best wide receiver since his time with the New York Giants (2014-2018). In his rookie season, he became the first rookie to record more than 75 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and also having what many consider to be the best catch of all-time in his Sunday Night Football game at home against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. He continued to set elite numbers with the Giants. In 2017, he suffered an injury in Week 5 and did not return. In 2018, he played 12 games and had 1,052 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, plus two passing touchdowns. He would be traded to the Cleveland Browns for the 2019 season, and Odell Beckham Jr. once again surpassed 1,000 receiving yards. 2020 Odell Beckham Jr. only played 7 games due to injury. Part way through the 2021 regular season, Odell Beckham Jr. would be waived and then picked up by the Los Angeles Rams. Here, Odell Beckham Jr. would score 7 receiving touchdowns in 12 games, including 1 in the Super Bowl before another injury struck him in the second quarter that made him sit out the rest of the Super Bowl game. Yet, his teammates came through to win Odell Beckham Jr. his first Super Bowl!

Van Jefferson has played wide receiver for the Rams for two seasons since he was drafted to the LA Rams in 2020. Van Jefferson has not had as illustrious career as his teammates on this list, but did have a very good second season and his wife went into labor during the Super Bowl, as Van Jefferson went to the Hospital to see his second son and third child being born after winning the Super Bowl for the first time!

Andrew Whitworth is 40 years old and had been playing in the NFL since 2006, earning 4 Pro Bowl appearances and never had won a Super Bowl. He has been widely regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL for quite some time. Thus, his Super Bowl win on Sunday meant a lot to the seasoned veteran who was looking to retire on top, or at least with one Super Bowl.

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald has been the highest rated player in the NFL for some time now, and is widely regarded as the best defensive lineman in NFL history. He has played 8 seasons and has earned 8 Pro Bowl selections and 7 All-Pro first team honors. He has earned a record three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. He has played for the Rams since 2014 when he was drafted and thus has been part of the St. Louis and Los Angeles years. Yet, Aaron Donald had never won a Super Bowl before this past Sunday, even though he had been called the best defensive player in the NFL of all-time. Aaron Donald’s perseverance saw him get a Super Bowl winning tackle and pass rush that would secure the LA Rams Super Bowl on their last defensive stop. Aaron Donald would finally win the Super Bowl!

Von Miller Jr. has been a top linebacker and at times, almost unanimously viewed as the best linebacker during his career since 2011. Von Miller Jr.’s teammate Demaryius Thomas had died earlier this season and thus, Von Miller Jr. was playing for him, his own kids, and his new team and fans. While Von Miller Jr. may have already won one Super Bowl, this second Super Bowl win meant so much for Von Miller Jr. for many reasons, especially for Demaryius Thomas and so that he could prove to others he is still an elite player.

Von Miller Jr. with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LVI with the LA Rams.

Eric Weddle had been a 6 time Pro Bowl free safety and had retired after his 2019-2020 season with the Rams. Eric Weddle had never won a Super Bowl having played most of his career for the Chargers during their years in San Diego. He also played with the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons. But, his one season with the Rams was to be his last, until January of 2022 when the Rams suffered some defensive back injuries. Eric Weddle came out of retirement and would sign with the Rams Practice Squad, before playing in all 4 playoff games for the Rams, winning his first Super Bowl after one year of being retired. He has announced he is going to retire again.

Jalen Ramsey played three seasons and three games (2016-2019) with the Jacksonville Jaguars being selected for 2 Pro Bowls while there, and then being traded after Week 6 of 2019 to the Los Angeles Rams. He has achieved a Pro Bowl selection every year in LA, and thus has only had one non-Pro Bowl selection and that was his rookie season. He is also the highest paid defensive back of all-time. This has made Jalen Ramsey widely regarded as the best cornerback in the NFL. However, he too was missing a Super Bowl like many of his teammates until Sunday night, and thus Jalen Ramsey would earn his first Super Bowl on Sunday night!

Taylor Rapp has played for the Rams since he was drafted in 2019, playing three seasons in LA. He is a free safety who has had to overcome many things regarding his background, which stems from his mother being from Shanghai. Taylor Rapp is one of the few Asian-Americans in the NFL and has “beaten long odds, undeterred by a city that failed to support prep football, a high school community that openly mocked him, coaches who were unprepared to develop his talents, college recruiters who blatantly overlooked him and kids who racially taunted him for his Chinese ethnicity” according to NFL.com. Taylor Rapp proved many of the coaches wrong many times, especially now that he won Super Bowl LVI on Sunday night.

Johnny Hekker has been the Rams punter since 2012 and thus has moved with the team from St. Louis to Los Angeles. During his time as the Rams’ punter, Johnny Hekker has been known for his excellent punting and passing when called upon for fakes. While his Super Bowl performance was not great, the 4 time Pro Bowl and All-Pro first team selectee won his first Super Bowl this past Sunday which was much deserved for a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Sean McVay has continued to do well as a young football coach and have proved the Rams correct for hiring him. While he has made mistakes in the past and is in no way perfect, he seems to put together good teams consistently which is something the Rams were missing in the later St. Louis years and their first Los Angeles year. Sean McVay became the youngest Super Bowl Winning Head Coach on Sunday winning his first Super Bowl, which is historical in itself.

LA Rams Head Coach, Sean McVay, with the Vince Lombardi Trophy for winning Super Bowl LVI.

There are so many other good stories, but the point is that the Rams not only deserved a Super Bowl as did their fans and area they represent, but so too did their players and coaches.

While the media and many in social media portrayed the Cincinatti Bengals as the underdogs or as the city that has waited for a Super Bowl for too long, thus portraying the Bengals as the emotional choice, it was really the Rams and Los Angeles that deserved this win the most, not just because the Rams were the best team in the NFL this season, but also because LA fans deserved this experience after the NFL abandoned them so long ago.

Many people will still criticize the lack of fan support or the style of fans for the Rams (“bandwagon fans”), but for the Rams, they have tons of support in the LA Area. It is just that LA is so big, and has such a diverse population with varying intetests. The LA fans should not be expected to have been Rams fans before they came back anyway, and should not be expected to immideately be fans now. Nonetheless, the LA Rams as Super Bowl Champions have cemented a legacy for their franchise, metro area, players, coaches, and fans.

This whole story is one of perseverance. And that is something LA Football and Rams Football knows all too well. The LA Rams are Super Bowl LVI Champions! Congrats to the Rams!

LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay with the Vince Lombardi Trophy with many of his key players sharing the stage with him, for having won Super Bowl LVI.

Updates on 2022 Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey and Quarterfinal Preview

Playoffs Round:

Slovakia 4 Germany 0

Denmark 3 Latvia 2

Canada 7 PR China 2

Czech Republic 2 Switzerland 4

Analysis:

Slovakia proved once again that they ate elite against teams in the lower half of the tournament. But, they still have yet to prove they can compete and win nonetheless, against teams in the top half of the tournament. Germany will be very disappointed with their performance in another Olympics which did not feature NHL players. Given how good Germany’s league is, Germany was expected to do better with this advantage. Germany finished 4th in the 2021 World Championship with NHL players even, so this is a set back for the 2018 Silver Medalists.

Denmark had a close call but if you would have turned Denmark before the tournament that they would have 3 wins by their 4th game, and would still be in the tournament, the Danish would be really happy. The Danes keep performing well. The Latvians performed well against Sweden and Finland, but against the lesser team of Slovakia, they performed bad. Now, they had another chance against a nation playing very well and almost won this game. The game was tied 2-2 in the 3rd period. Still, the Latvians were supposed to be better than the Danes so even if Denmark has been playing very well, it was still expected Latvia would win to start the tournament.

Canada won another game against the host nation, PR China, and again by 5 goals! The Canadians had their best scoring night of the tournament with 7 goals, but gave up 2 goals to PR China. PR China is playing better, but still, Canada should probably have a better scoreline if they are Gold Medal contenders. Yet, it is ice hockey and it is Canada, so Canada is still a favorite. PR China did well to get the score to 1-2 at the end of the 1st Period. But, the 2nd Period saw the Canadians score 3 goals in a row! The PR Chinese scored 1 goal in this period after to bring the score to 2-5. PR China would not have a great 3rd Period losing 0-2 in the period. Still, a 2-7 loss in the way they did it, is actually an improvement for PR China. Unfortunately, as of now, they have opted out of the 2022 World Championship, but with more competition, PR China could become a regular, especially with their KHL experience for their players.

Switzerland finally showed up after losing all games, with 1 of those being a shootout loss. Switzerland went up 1-0 early, followed by a Czech goal to make it 1-1. But, less than a minute later, and the Swiss made it 2-1! The 2nd Period was close, but the Swiss scored 1 more goal toward the middle of this period to make it a 3-1 Swiss lead. The 3rd Period saw another close encounter until the Swiss scored with 5 minutes and 3 seconds left in the game to make the score 4-1 for the Swiss! The Czechs would score almost a minute later to make it 2-4, but that was it. The Swiss would win their 1st game at the 2022 Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament! The Swiss will be happy to have such a good performance over a Czech side that was improving into their usual high level of play. The Swiss can beat any team at the tournament, but just have not until their win over the Czechs in the Playoffs Round. The Czechs will be disappointed after winning 2 straight, including a win over the Russian Olympic Committee in their previous game before this elimination, albeit all in overtime/shootouts. If you would have told the Czechs they would beat the Swiss and Russians in the Group, the Czechs, as well as everyone else (except maybe the Danish, but probably the Danish as well) would have thought the Czechs won their Group and had a bye in this round. But, a loss to Denmark started this tournament off, and a loss to the Swiss the 2nd time around ensured the Czechs would never reach the round they would have been expected to have received a bye to given their wins over Switzerland and the Russian Olympic Committee in their Group. The Czechs have now failed to reach the Quarterfinals in the 2021 World Championship and 2022 Winter Olympics.

Quarterfinals:

16 February (PR China time):

USA verse Slovakia

Russian Olympic Committee verse Denmark

Finland verse Switzerland

Sweden verse Canada

Analysis:

USA are 3-0-0-0 with the most points and best goal differential. Their Group may have been easy or may have been hard. But, their team outperformed everyone there and did what they were supposed to, beat everyone on their schedule. Now the USA plays Slovakia, and the USA has no guarantees. The knockout rounds are not only pressuring, but are also filled with talent. Given the USA had a break, while some may say that took them off their grove, it most likely did not because it was only a 2 day break. The USA has a very young team who plays with speed, physicality, skill, and lots of energy. While their technique and finishing abilities, plus their attack on power plays is not always there, this break is a good thing for them because they got to rest their bodies to play their youthful way again, while getting extra time to work on this technique and strategy needed to finish and to score on power plays. The Slovakians have been very good against nations in the lower half of this tournament like Latvia and Germany, but have been atrocious against nations in the upper half of this tournament like Finland and Sweden. The USA should win against Slovakia by 3+ goals. But, the USA will have to play focused! Slovakia is no easy opponent. The USA is just really good.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is 2-0-1-0 having had 2 close wins and 1 overtime loss to the Czechs. One of these wins came against the Danes where the ROC won 2-0! It was 0-0 after the 1st Period, 1-0 after the 2nd, and then, with 6 seconds left and an empty net, the ROC scored to make it 2-0 in the 3rd Period. In other words, the ROC had a very close game with the Danish. The ROC also had a close 1-0 win with the Swiss. Originally, this was supposed to mean the ROC was elite defensively. But then, a 5-6 loss to the Czechs signaled this was no longer the case. For Denmark, they had a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic to start off their Group play, where they scored 2 goals in the 1st Period, and then the Czechs scored 1 later on in the 1st Period. It seems as if the Danes got a lucky start. Then, Denmark’s close loss to the ROC suggested that maybe, Denmark had an elite defense and horrible offense. But then, Denmark defeated Switzerland 5-3 to close out their Group play, and then just beat Latvia 3-2. Denmark appears to be well balanced. The ROC are the favorites in this game, but Denmark are now playing better. The break for the ROC was probably too long and the Danish win has given Denmark lots of confidence. The ROC should win by 1 goal. But, it will be very close and could go either way.

Finland is an elite scoring team, while the Swiss are generally, an elite defensive team. The last 2 games have not proved they true for the Swiss though, as they have given up 7 goals! The Finish will expect to exploit this gaping hole in the Swiss defense like Swiss cheese. But, the Finish themselves have not been great defensively and the Swiss are now doing better offensively with 7 goals from their past 2 games. However, the Finish have the better offense, and Finland should be able to outscore Switzerland. Finland should win by 2 goals.

Sweden has been a favorite even more than Canada for this tournament the whole time. Sweden improved this advantage over Canada after Group play. Sweden’s only loss was a 3-4 loss to Finland in overtime. But, that loss came after a 3-0 Swedish lead. Canada may not be their best team, but Canada is still Canada and in ice hockey, it is crucial to put the Canadians away. While Finland is better, if the Swedish do not think they can actually keep a lead against Canada, they will probably talk themselves into making mistakes. But, with the bye, the Swedish probably have more confidence now after watching film of what they did wrong. Sweden is the better team and should win by 1 goal.

Updated Bracket:

Updated Favorites:

  1. USA
  2. Finland
  3. Sweden
  4. Russian Olympic Committee
  5. Canada
  6. Switzerland
  7. Denmark
  8. Slovakia

Eliminated:

  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Latvia
  • PR China

For more information on the teams following Group play, check out:

https://kindertruthandhonesty.com/2022/02/14/2022-olympic-mens-ice-hockey-updates-after-group-play/

What to do About Ukraine? – “Rukh” and Lviv

It appears that US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and President Biden have a very good idea what to do after their recent embassy move from Kiev to Lviv!

While these two are close to seeing another (de facto) allied country lose their de facto sovereignty to an invading power due to their weakness, they have improved from Afghanistan with this move.

See, Americans do not want their military to go into any wars right now, as many people have misconstrued protecting a country with war. It is a very semantic game right now, where in Afghanistan, you could have the case where 0 American soldiers had died for a year and a half and yet the main reason you are leaving is because of soldiers dying. People seem to not understand that labelling something as a war does not equal death, nor does not labeling something as a war equals less death. Just look at the “forever war in Afghanistan” verse the Southside of Chicago. One was much more deadly for Americans in the previous years before the disastrous pullout, and that was not called a war.

Yet, Americans have chosen their path, and President Biden seems hard pressed to give the majority what they want, even if it would do detrimental harm to millions of people and weaken the USA. This is partly because he is on their side too.

But, in Afghanistan, there were other ways to leave than just abandoning the Afghan people completely. For example, the USA could have supported the Panjshir and Hazara Resistance. The USA could have moved their supplies to a secured location, and kept the Resistance to the Taliban strong. The USA could still do this. There are many areas of Afghanistan very resistant to Taliban rule, and these are the areas where the USA could go to and should have gone to at the very least.

Likewise, the same exists in Ukraine. And, the Americans have found the perfect place in Lviv!

Lviv is perfect because it is home to the Patriotic Ukrainians who vote for the pro-Ukrainian parties and candidates most! It is Western Ukraine’s capital! It has been a part of Poland, Lithuania, and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and other more Western aligned states in the past, such as their own in Galicia (Galicia–Volhynia) who looked West to defend against the Mongols in the 1200s. In fact, it is the home city to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome. And culturally, almost everyone sees themselves as Ukrainian first and speaking Ukrainian first! From a political, historical, present-day, cultural, and religious point of view, Lviv is Ukrainian and Western!

This is St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv, which is the mother church or main Cathedral for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. From Fed4ev.
A helpful map of Ukraine that shows the major cities including Lviv, Kiev, Donetsk, and Luhansk. The map may be a bit older because it is focused on the Chernobyl incident, but nonetheless, it is good to see for context. From Lonely Planet.
A simple map which shows where Ukraine is in relation to other countries. You can see here that Lviv is close to not just Poland, but also Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. From Britannica.
The Lviv Oblast in red with Lviv, its capital, being the red dot/circle. In Ukraine, they are a unitary state, but they are very similar to a federated state in that they have 27 states/provinces. 24 of them are called oblasts, two are called cities with special status (Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) and Sevastopol (on Crimea and controlled and claimed by Russia), and one autonomous republic (Crimea, controlled and claimed by Russia). From Skluesener.

Thus, moving the US Embassy to Lviv may still be a net loss, but it is not a complete loss. It creates the resistance capital and thus the de facto capital of an Independent Western-Aligned Ukraine!

If the USA is not willing to protect Ukraine, at the very least, Western Ukraine it should protect because the Ukrainians themselves want to protect it. What the USA should do is continue to supply weapons to the Ukrainians, and then possibly, supply Ukraine with private contractors who will teach them and update their weaponry. In Afghanistan, this is mostly what the USA was doing, in addition to air support, in their last 4 years there and it was working very well. The USA stopped doing this which was arguably the biggest reason for the collapse there.

But, the USA can continue to do this in Lviv. The USA though will have to be more careful with air support and will probably have to use drone intelligence gathering because the Russians have good air support whereas the Taliban did not. Even the Russian-aligned separatists in Eastern Ukraine have shot down planes unfortunately (an airline plane actually), and thus, if the goal is to eliminate American death, then air support needs to be done through drones (This does not mean drone strikes, rather, intelligence gathering).

Lviv is also a strategically important capital for the United Arab Emirates whose deputy Prime Minister, HH Sheikh Mansour, often is forward thinking with where he places his City Football Group resources, and he made Rukh Lviv (Ukrainian Premier League side) a partnership last year, potentially a first signal to the Western world that Russia was focused on invading, especially since the UAE and Russia have a strong partnership too.

The logo for FC Rukh Lviv. From FC Rukh Lviv

In fact, it is in Lviv where the Rukh Movement, the People’s Movement of Ukraine, was arguably strongest that brought down the Soviet Union and created Ukrainian Independence that led to a referendum where 92+% of the people voted for Ukrainian Independence! Thus, the parallels to the Panjshir Resistance which gained almost universal popularity against the Taliban and the Soviet Union as previous editions had fought both is similar to Lviv and their movements they have spurred. And thus, President Biden and Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, appear to be learning from their previous mistake, and thus are now supporting a city and effectively group, that can regain full unity of Ukraine.

The logo for the Rukh Movement. From Rukh Team.

It is true that what the USA should do is seek a neutral Ukraine like prior to their NATO/EU-led overthrow of a democratically elected leader, whereby Ukraine would also be democratic. With a strong constitution, this would make it so that the Russian and Western aligned Ukrainians would have rights and the ability to elect a Head of State that thinks like them, bound to a constitution that protects all Ukrainians. Ironically, by ensuring Russian aligned rights in Ukraine, this would push Ukraine further West because it would display the peaceful resolutions a proper constitutional republic provides with rights for minorities like Carpatho-Ruthenians, Crimean Tatars, and Russians themselves, thus displaying a system Russia should continue to de facto move closer to.

Yet, under President Obama and then Vice President Biden, just like with the Middle East and North Africa, the Americans pushed for revolutions that were disastrous for American interests and the safety of the people in these nations. At least with Ukraine, this administration was pushing for an American aligned regime, but maybe not either, as it appeared to be too pro-EU. Nonetheless, at least it was pro-Western. Therefore, now, the West would be best to try to return Ukraine to its previous state. Crimea probably should stay Russian as history states it is Russian (if not for a Ukrainian dictator of the USSR), but the West would probably be best to not recognize it like Russia does not recognize Kosovo, thus not giving either de jure control. The West would be best to try to crack down on the Eastern Ukraine separatists, and they can do this by giving them back their democracy. As seen from the recent reports in the Russian Gate scandal, the Biden-Obama-Clinton trio are not exactly the best for having integrity with elections, especially when they lose, which is what happened in Ukraine and led to this disastrous revolution to begin with. But, they can try to give all Ukrainians back their rights, which would give less incentive to the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic Russian-aligned rebel non-recognized states to keep fighting.

Furthermore, as seen with Switzerland and Finland, a country does not have to be in NATO to be an ally and to be a proper republic and Western, as well as protected from invasion. And, as seen with the United Kingdom and Switzerland, nor does a country need to be an EU member, and in fact, with German control of the EU and the softness it possesses toward Russia, it may be best for Ukraine not to be in the EU for Western interests anyway. The truth is that a well-defended populace like the Swiss would be a strong deterrent against Russia, and though it may be too little too late in places like Kiev and Eastern Ukraine, plus Crimea to do this, in Western Ukraine like in Lviv, it is not too late. Thus, supplying Ukraine with a strong base and weaponry there is key to keep some independent territory of Ukraine and to potentially revamp Ukraine if Russia invades, and maybe even will provide a deterrent so they do not invade more anyway.

Lastly, it is best for Ukraine to be a Russian-American/Western Project! Why? Well, Lviv signals this best. Lviv displays how Ukraine is Western (even if they use Cyrillic), just like Donetsk signals how Ukraine is Eastern, and Kiev displays a neutral stomping ground that was ruled by the law before the overthrow. Ukraine can be a place where the Americans and Russians begin to trust one another again, if they promise to rebuild a democracy with strong guarantees for freedoms and democracy for all people there. It would be best to keep it neutral. After all, as bad as Russia can be, it is still a key partner in fighting terrorism, and in promoting the religious values that bind the West to the East in Europe and the Americas together.

For now though, the Russians and the West are enemies in Ukraine, and thus, the USA’s move to Lviv is a really good move.

The Habsburgs ruled Lviv and the Pope is its spiritual leader. The military alliance with the USA and Ukraine are now in Lviv and the most successful diplomatic footballing group led by a US-aligned leader has placed its resources in Lviv. Lviv was also home to the anti-Soviet resistance and the Rukh Movement. By all in tense and purposes, Lviv has been and once again has become the capital of Ukraine in the West and that is the best worst case scenario because it keeps Ukraine not only de jure independent, but also de facto independent, at least in the Western parts of their nation. This keeps the Resistance alive because it shows them the USA and West have not given up on them.

2022 Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Updates after Group Play

Team: Games Played; Wins-Overtime Wins-Overtime Losses-Losses; Goals For-Goals Against; Goal Differential; Points

Group A:

  1. USA: 3; 3-0-0-0; 15-4; +11; 9
  2. Canada: 3; 2-0-0-1; 12-5; +7; 6
  3. Germany: 3; 1-0-0-2; 6-10; -4; 3
  4. PR China: 3; 0-0-0-3; 2-16; -14; 0

Round 1:

USA 8 PR China 0

Canada 5 Germany 1

Round 2:

Canada 2 USA 4

Germany 3 PR China 2

Round 3:

PR China 0 Canada 5

USA 3 Germany 2

Group B:

  1. Russian Olympic Committee: 3; 2-0-1-0; 8-6; +2; 7
  2. Denmark: 3: 2-0-0-1; 7-6; +1; 6
  3. Czech Republic: 3; 0-2-0-1; 9-8; +1; 4
  4. Switzerland: 3; 0-0-1-2; 4-8; -4; 1

Round 1:

Russian Olympic Committee 1 Switzerland 0

Czech Republic 1 Denmark 2

Round 2:

Denmark 0 Russian Olympic Committee 2

Czech Republic 2 (1-0 GWS) Switzerland 1

Round 3:

Russian Olympic Committee 5 Czech Republic 6 (0-1 OT)

Switzerland 3 Denmark 5

Group C:

  1. Finland: 3; 2-1-0-0; 13-6; +7; 8
  2. Sweden: 3; 2-0-1-0; 10-7; +3; 7
  3. Slovakia: 3; 1-0-0-2; 8-12; -4; 3
  4. Latvia: 3; 0-0-0-3; 5-11; -6; 0

Round 1:

Sweden 3 Latvia 2

Finland 6 Slovakia 2

Round 2:

Sweden 4 Slovakia 1

Latvia 1 Finland 3

Round 3:

Slovakia 5 Latvia 2

Finland 4 (1-0 OT) Sweden 3

Seedings for Knockout Rounds:

  1. USA
  2. Finland
  3. Russian Olympic Committee
  4. Sweden
  5. Canada
  6. Denmark
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Slovakia
  9. Germany
  10. Switzerland
  11. Latvia
  12. PR China

Bracket for the Knockout Rounds:

Analysis:

Group A:

Group A was a group which featured the unknown. PR China was playing with a lot of naturalized players, so their team they were playing with was new. Germany is very strange as sometimes they are really good, and other times they are really bad. With no NHL players playing like in 2018, Germany was expected to do better than they did in Group play. Canada had a lot more collegiate players than usual as they could not play their NHL stars. And, the USA had a lot of collegiate stars making a very youthful lineup, but one difficult to predict.

  1. USA: USA is the best team so far at the 2022 Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. The USA has won every game, and this is with a very young lineup. Team USA is skilled, athletic, has lots of speed, plays with tons of physicality, and is often good with playing defense on the power play. The USA has two very capable goalies. However, the USA lacks finishing skills and power play for attacking. When on attack, the USA is not good with power plays or open nets. And, the USA is not great on defense, but has been bailed out by their goalies or off shots by their opponents. This will hurt the USA if they cannot figure this out! However, if the USA can keep a healthy rotation and keep up their youthfulness, strength, and speed, the USA should be able to beat any team on this list. The USA’s game against Germany showed that the collegiate players can play at a professional physicality level.
  2. Canada: Canada now has their shooting back on track as the Canadians struggled to shoot successfully against the USA, but did a good job scoring 5 goals against both PR China and Germany. Canada lacks skating speed even though they have a lot of young players. Canada is not looking like their best version of their team, but Canadians are still a favorite as in the 2021 World Championship, Canada barely got out of their Group and then went onto win the World Championship.
  3. Germany: The 2018 Silver Medalist seem poised to get their medal hopes back in contention with that close loss to the USA. While the score was deceiving because the USA had built up a 2 goal lead for some time, nonetheless, Germany kept the game within touching distance. Germany was very unimpressive against Canada. Germany suffered mediocrity towards the end against PR China, but still won. However, against the USA, Germany showed a complete game even if they did not win. That is good for Germany. Germany needs to do better on power plays from both offense and defense.
  4. PR China: PR China is improving as they almost came back against Germany and played better against Canada than against the USA. While PR China may be the worst nation at the tournament, PR China is the host nation, and thus any opponent needs to precede with caution.

Group B:

Group B started off as the defensive Group, but the last game for each team featured lots of attack. Each team in Group B may be really good, or severely overrated. Why? Because Denmark is either playing very well or the nations around them are playing really bad. Denmark is supposed to be the second worst team at the Olympic Hockey tournament, but are currently playing like a Top 6 team.

  1. Russian Olympic Committee: The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) were the pre-Tournament favorites to win the Gold Medal, but their lack of goal scoring and convincing performances put this into question across their first 2 games. Yet, they still won them, so they stayed favorites. However, their last game was a loss 5-6 which is quite unacceptable. The Russian Olympic Committee is still most likely the most talented, but they are no longer the favorite given their recent form.
  2. Denmark: Denmark is playing way above the level they should be playing at. They have shown good defense in their first 2 games, as well as good attacking in their previous game. Denmark looks like a strong medal contender and could be the 2018 Germany in 2022, the unexpected really good national team.
  3. Czech Republic: Czechia is having an interesting tournament. After losing to Denmark, the Czechs have now won a shootout with Switzerland and an overtime win with the Russian Olympic Committee. The Czech Republic has shown elite scoring and great defense. The Czech Republic is usually really good, and this 2022 team is battle-tested which is good for the knockout rounds. The Czechs are trending in the right direction at the right time.
  4. Switzerland: Switzerland looks bad right now, having lost all 3 games. But, they have been close in each one, with their latest loss being their biggest loss this Olympics, and it was only a 2 goal loss. Switzerland has a talented team, but they need to put it together.

Group C:

Group C was a very top heavy Group as Finland and Sweden played very well each. Slovakia closed out the Group play strong, while Latvia played much better in their first 2 games.

  1. Finland: Finland was the second favorite going into the Olympics and is still the second favorite, just behind another team. Finland played very well in their first 2 games of the Group, but against Sweden, they had a terrible second period, but in the third period, Finland were fantastic! Finland came back from 3 goals down to tie it and push the game into overtime, which Finland preceded to win in. Finland’s comeback shows the fight needed in an ice hockey team to win a Gold medal. Finland already possesses the skill and their previous match shows they possess the necessary mindset too.
  2. Sweden: Sweden has played well since their close win over Latvia. Even though Sweden lost a 3 goal lead, the Swedes did it at a time that is good, and that is before the knockout rounds. Sweden still did good enough to get a bye to the Quarter-finals as the best second place team. Sweden is very good all-around.
  3. Slovakia: Slovakia were manhandled by Finland and Sweden, but against Latvia, Slovakia was elite. Slovakia needs to get out of the habit of only playing well against lesser opposition, because in order to improve, you often need to do it against the best. Still, Slovakia is a strong contender to advance to the Quarter-finals.
  4. Latvia: Latvia started off so well, being a close opponent to Sweden and Finland. Latvia seems to have the opposite habit of Slovakia and that is playing well against elite teams and playing worse against lesser opposition.

Playoffs Round (15 February):

Slovakia verse Germany:

Slovakia is the traditional hockey power in this matchup, but recently, Germany has been much better. Slovakia and Germany are both trending in the right direction. However, Germany has not been playing as good and Slovakia gets these types of wins. So, Slovakia should be the slight favorites by 1 goal.

Canada verse PR China:

It is very very difficult to play the same opponent back to back and expect to win both times. But, Canada is much better than PR China. PR China should not be counted out though as they are improving and are the host nation. Canada should get a comfortable win by 2+ goals.

Czech Republic verse Switzerland:

The Czech Republic are the slight favorites in this one because the Czechs are playing better and already beat the Swiss in shootouts, while the Swiss are playing worse. The Czech Republic should be favorites by 1 goal.

Denmark verse Latvia:

Denmark is playing at a very elite level right now, while Latvia has at times been able to compete with those at an elite level. But, Denmark has won some of these games, while Latvia has not. Denmark is trending up while Latvia is trending down. Denmark should win by 2+ goals.

Favorites for the Gold Medal:

  1. USA
  2. Finland
  3. Sweden
  4. Russian Olympic Committee
  5. Canada
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Switzerland
  8. Denmark
  9. Germany
  10. Slovakia
  11. Latvia
  12. PR China