While there is currently no formula for allocating places at the World Cup to confederations, it is fair to wonder how much performance comes into play. For FIFA’s bogus “Confederation factor” they look at performance by confederation in the past 3 World Cups.
For example, because teams like Honduras are unable to defeat Spain and Chile in the World Cup, all CONCACAF matches for the next 4 years are devalued for ranking purposes by 14%. When the Netherlands defeated Spain last week, they achieved the maximum points possible in a match, 2400, by defeating the #1 ranked team at the World Cup. Had a team from CONCACAF or AFC defeated Spain at the World Cup, that team would only get 2232 points. That’s a crime. But I digress.
The real takeaway is that FIFA looks at performance at the last 3 World Cups, and when it comes to determining places at the finals, the AFC is in danger. 2002, AFC’s best ever performance at the World Cup, could theoretically be erased from all “calculations”. And subsequently, if no AFC team reaches the Round of 16 this year, AFC will have sent a team to the Round of 16 in just 1 of the past 3 World Cups.
That’s a dangerous proposition, and given that fact, a decently strong argument could be made that AFC doesn’t deserve 4.5 places at the finals. The half spot that AFC gets comes down to a playoff against another confederation. The AFC has lost 4 consecutive playoffs.
2014 World Cup
Thus far, the performances by 3 AFC teams (Japan, Australia, Iran) have been uninspiring. Iran has claimed the only point thus far for the confederation by waiting out Nigeria for 90 minutes. Our simulator doesn’t give any of the 3 teams more than a 6% chance of advancing out of their group, and the odds that all 3 do not advance are somewhere around 90%. That’s remarkably high, and it means that Korea Republic may be the only hope for the AFC.
To put even more pressure on, it is likely that Russia, Korea Republic, and Algeria may be fighting for one spot given the strength of Belgium. While nothing is guaranteed, it would be a colossal failure for Belgium not to advance. If Russia is able to defeat Korea Republic, Korea’s odds of advancing take a drastic, and most likely, knockout blow.
It will certainly be an entertaining match, but there could be far more on the line for an entire confederation than just a place in the Round of 16. There is a downstream effect. While it is only speculation, should Korea Republic fail, don’t be surprised to see AFC only given 3.5 places in Russia 2018.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to reach out to us in the comments below or on Twitter @We_Global to discuss the AFC’s future.