25 August 2020

World Cup qualifying groups revealed per first round

On 27 July the North American and Caribbean confederation announced a new format of qualifiers for the World Cup 2022 event. As the altered structure was explained, there will be three rounds played: the first and last will be comprised of group stages, while the middle is going to be an elimination phase.
Then came 19 August when the real fun started (still off the pitch though): by finding the teams places in the groups. World ranking from 16 July was the base of how each team is going to appear in these qualifiers...and that is how the real journey began. Lowest member nations of the region (from places 06 to 35) were divided in five pots out of which six groups were formed with five teams in it, with the following result:

Group A: El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, United States Virgin islands.
Group B: Canada, Suriname, Bermuda, Cayman islands, Aruba.
Group C: Curacao, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, British Virgin islands.
Group D: Panama, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla.
Group E: Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, Saint Lucia, Turks and Caicos islands.
Group F: Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Bahamas.

Home and away games from this phase are going to be played in October and November 2020.
Going further more, only the six group winners will go through to the next phase (second qualifying round) where they are going to form three pairs looking like this:

Winner of group A - winner of group F.
Winner of group B - winner of group E.
Winner of group C - winner of group D.

Matches from this phase are scheduled for March 2021.
In June, September, October and November 2021 plus January and March 2022 is going to commence the and last round where the above three winners together with the best quintet from the region (Honduras, United States of America, Costa Rica, Mexico and Jamaica) will battle it out for three secure spots in the finals, while the fourth placed team is going to have to play an additional game.
Meanwhile on 12 August it was announced that, unfortunately, duels in October and November throughout Asia are not going to be played due to the virus increased cases throughout the continent. These duels for this tournament, who are also the Asian Cup qualifiers, will be rescheduled for 2021.


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