World Cup 2022: Concacaf reforms qualifying

Concacaf has introduced a new format that will determine the three and a half representatives in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It will have the effect of insulating the top six teams -- per the FIFA Rankings -- from having to qualify into the Hexagonal and it will offer an expanded schedule for small teams that were eliminated after as few as two games in the past.

For the USA, that means there will be no more close calls like it got in 2000 -- when it faced a must-win game at Barbados and was tied 0-0 early in the second half before winning 4-0 -- and in 2012 -- when it briefly faced elimination in its final match, trailing Guatemala 1-0 at home before winning 3-1.

All teams will play a minimum of four games as Concacaf looks to find a way to expand playing opportunities and force teams to ramp up their national team programs. (The new Concacaf Nations League, which begins in September, is part of that effort.)

Hexagonal format. The top six ranked Concacaf teams based on the FIFA Ranking published after the FIFA window of June 2020 will play the same 10-game league format that has been used since qualifying for the 1998 World Cup.

Five home-and-away series in round-robin play will take place during the FIFA windows of September, October and November 2020 and March and September 2021, and the top three teams will qualify directly to Qatar 2022.

The fourth-place team will play the winner of a parallel Concacaf competition in a Concacaf playoff in October 2021 and that winner will move into the intercontinental playoff.

Parallel competition. The second part of Concacaf qualifying will involve teams ranked 7-35 according to the same FIFA Ranking published after the FIFA window of June 2020.

The 29 teams will be divided into eight groups (five groups of four teams and three groups of three teams), and after home-and-away series in round-robin play during the FIFA windows of September, October and November 2020, the eight group winners will move into a knock-out stage.
 
Three rounds -- quarterfinals, semifinals and final all played in home-and-away series -- will be played during the FIFA windows of March, June and September 2021 to determine the winner that will face the Hexagonal's fourth-place team.
1 comment about "World Cup 2022: Concacaf reforms qualifying".
  1. Bob Ashpole, July 10, 2019 at 8 p.m.

    I like it. It is a little wierd, but provides incentive for lower tier nations to improve their support.

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