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Concacaf announces new format for World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying

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Canada will need to navigate three rounds of qualifying to get to the 2022 World Cup, according the the new qualifying format announced by Concacaf Monday.

They’ll need to top a group of five teams and then win a playoff to earn a spot in the eight-team final Concacaf World Cup 2022 qualifying stage.

How does Concacaf's new World Cup qualifying format affect Canada's chances of qualifying for Qatar?

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The original qualifying format was adjusted after the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports to a halt in March.

Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras have all be placed into the third round of qualifying based on their FIFA rankings, leaving the 30 other Concacaf nations to fight it out for the three remaining spots. The top three teams in the final stage will qualify directly for the the 2022 World Cup. The fourth placed team will advance to the World Cup playoffs to face a team from another region.

Canada will be seeded second in the first round and will be expecting to qualify for the second round as their group’s winners.

Concacaf qualifying is set to begin October 2020 and is expected to wrap up March 2022.

Full Concacaf statement:

Concacaf has today published an updated men’s international calendar which includes a new format for the Concacaf Qualifiers to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and updates on the Concacaf Nations League and 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.

The new Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 comprise of three rounds and provide all participating Member Associations with the chance to compete for the Confederation’s three and a half World Cup spots.

Concacaf schedule of play from 2020 to 2023

Concacaf schedule of play from 2020 to 2023

The First Round (30 teams) will be played between the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 6-35 based on the FIFA rankings as of July 16, 2020.

The 30 men’s national teams will be drawn into six groups of five in a seeded draw. The six highest ranked teams, El Salvador, Canada, Curacao, Panama, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago will be pre-seeded into groups A to F respectively.

Each team will play every other team in their group once, playing a total of four matches; two home and two away. These games will be played in the FIFA match windows of October 2020 and November 2020.

At the end of the First Round the six group winners will progress to the Second Round.

The Second Round (six teams) will be played between the group winners from the First Round, with the matchups pre-determined as follows:

  • Group A winner vs Group F winner
  • Group B winner vs Group E winner
  • Group C winner vs Group D winner

The teams will play home and away in a direct elimination format in the FIFA match window of March 2021. The three winners will progress to the Final Round.

The Final Round (eight teams) of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will see the three winners from the Second Round join the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 1-5 based on the FIFA rankings as of July 16th, 2020. The national teams ranked 1-5 had already gained enough FIFA ranking points to guarantee their place in the Final Round prior to the development of a new format.

Final Round teams: 1. Mexico 2. USA 3. Costa Rica 4. Jamaica 5. Honduras 6. Second Round Winner 7. Second Round Winner 8. Second Round Winner.

The Final Round will begin in the double FIFA match window in June 2021 and continue in the FIFA match windows of September, October, November 2021 and January and March 2022.

The eight teams will play each other home and away, with each team playing 14 matches.

At the end of the Final Round, the top three finishing teams will qualify directly to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The fourth placed team will qualify for the FIFA Intercontinental Playoff, scheduled to be played in June 2022.

– statement courtesy Concacaf
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