By Michael Bascombe
MIAMI, USA -- The outstanding performances of teams from the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup have justified reasons to secure a fourth direct berth to the World Cup, according to CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb.
Three of CONCACAF’s four representatives qualified for the round of 16 and Costa Rica have already booked a quarter-final spot, eliminating Greece 5-3 on penalties. Mexico lost to the Netherlands 2-1 on Sunday and the United States play Belgium on Tuesday.
“The strong performances by our teams certainly justify the debate to push for a fourth full spot and we will do so accordingly,” Webb told the confederation’s website.
“Only South America at 83% had a higher share of its teams advance to the knockout stage of this World Cup.”
Webb credits the mental approach of the CONCACAF teams for their phenomenal performance in the World Cup, a good indicator, he said, of the game’s level in parts of our region.
“To me, changes in mental approach differ most in the performances of our teams in this World Cup as compared to others. Each team has demonstrated a belief that it could win regardless of the opponent. It has become a CONCACAF trademark in this competition.”
Webb has also attributed a number of factors for the teams’ overall success, paying homage to developmental programmes by national associations and the Gold Cup, CONCACAF’s flagship biennial tournament.
“I believe it is a combination of different elements for each team,” he said. “For one, the strong commitment from national associations to player development is certainly showing with individual standouts on the field.”
“I also believe that the fact that CONCACAF’s Gold Cup is played every two years, instead of every four years has a positive impact on the level of competition. Teams have the opportunity to play highly competitive games more often allowing them to evaluate their player pool at that level,” Webb said.
“We have also witnessed outstanding coaching in our teams. Managers have successfully adjusted their teams and formations during the course of games in order to get the result. We have also seen their ability to motivate and unite their respective squads. Taking pressure off the players is key and our managers have proven to be proficient in making sure that their players are in the right frame of mind to compete.”
He said, “CONCACAF fans have shown without a doubt that this confederation loves our sport, not only on the ground at the stadiums in Brazil, but also across the social media spectrum.”
“I applaud their efforts and thank them for being proud of belonging to our confederation,” he concluded.
The United States, Costa Rica and Honduras secured automatic berths to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Mexico, the fourth-place finisher in CONCACAF, won a home-and-away play-off against New Zealand, the winner of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and qualified to the Finals.