February 29th, 2024

CONCACAF qualifying road for 2026 FIFA World Cup in Canada, Mexico and U.S.

By The Canadian Press on February 1, 2024.

The preliminary 2026 World Cup qualifying draw for CONCACAF was conducted last week at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

The draw lays out the qualifying path for 32 teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are exempt as tournament co-hosts.

The qualifying process could result in eight CONCACAF teams taking part at the expanded 42-country World Cup for the first time. The field at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar consisted of 32 teams, including Canada which finish atop the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

CONCACAF qualifying this time around starts in March with playoffs between the Turks and Caicosand Anguilla,and the British Virgin Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands. The two playoff winnerswill join 28 other CONCACAF teams in six groups of five for the second round of regional qualifying to be held in June 2024 and June 2025.

Following round-robin play, the group winners and runners-up will advance to the final round which comes with its own draw to divide the 12 teams into three groups of four. Each side will play the others in its group home and away, playing a total of six matches.

The final-round matches will be played during FIFA international match windows in September, October, and November 2025. The three group winners will qualify directly for the 2026 tournament, joining the three co-hosts.

Additionally, the best two runners-up will represent CONCACAF in the FIFA Playoff Tournament.

CONCACAF will be the fourth confederation to kick off World Cup qualifying, following CONMEBOL (South America), the AFC (Asia) and CAF (Africa).

Honduras, Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands.

Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Bahamas

Haiti, CuraƧao, St. Lucia, Barbados, Aruba.

Panama, Nicaragua, Guyana, Montserrat, Belize.

Jamaica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Dominica, winner playoff No. 2 (British Virgin Islands or U.S. Virgin Islands).

El Salvador, Suriname, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, winner playoff No. 1 (Turks and Caicos Islands or Anguilla).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2024

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