Last month, CONCACAF announced a new qualifying format for the 2022 World Cup. On Wednesday, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean revealed that the preliminary draw for the 35 countries vying for one of three (maybe four) spots in Qatar will be held on Aug. 19.
The draw will take place at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
According to FIFA’s official website — which will stream the event live at 1 p.m. ET — the draw for the first round will allocate the 30 lowest-ranked CONCACAF teams to six groups. The draw for the eight-team final round will follow.
The United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Jamaica are guaranteed berths in the final round based on FIFA’s ranking of national teams. The 30 other teams in the region will compete for the final three spots in the “Octagonal,” with the top three finishers punching their ticket directly to Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will compete in an intercontinental playoff against a team region to be determined for the right to join them. Those home-and-home, total goals series are set for the summer of 2022.
El Salvador, Canada, Curacao, Panama, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago will be pre-seeded into six groups for the first round, which will be played in a single round-robin format. In the second round, the group winners will face off — also in home-and-home contests — with the winners advancing to the Octagonal.
The Octagonal will begin in June 2021 and conclude in March of 2022. The World Cup itself kicks off that November, the first time in 22 editions that the planet’s most popular event won’t be staged in May, June or July. Qatar 2022 will be the first World Cup to be played in the Middle East, and was moved to the fall because of the punishing summer heat in the tiny Gulf state.
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