Reggae Boyz central defender, Damion Lowe, continues to maintain that his side stands a very good chance of finding its way to the World Cup in Qatar, even with the changes of the final round from the traditional six teams to an eight-team format.

CONCACAF has three and a half spots, meaning the top three from this group earns an automatic berth to the World Cup, while the fourth-placed team plays in a play-off for a chance to join them.

With two additional teams in the final round for which the Reggae Boyz have already qualified should mean more competition for the the three and a half spots but, according to Lowe, the performance of the team in its recent past suggests it has the tools to get over the line nonetheless.

“I believe the teams ranked ahead of us is because they play bigger opponents and more games, but if you look at tournaments where we play against each other, Jamaica are second or third and we can challenge Mexico and anybody else when we are prepared properly,” said Lowe during an interview with local newspaper, the Jamaica Observer.

By preparation, Lowe means further improving on the personnel in the squad coached by Theodore Whitmore, as well as getting top-class opposition to warm up against.

“We maybe fourth ranked now, but we have to scout properly in order to find the right pieces. When we find the pieces, we have to now play top opponents to help us prepare for the qualifiers,” he said.

CONCACAF announced the following on Monday:

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.

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.  

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani has described the adjusted World Cup qualifiers format, settled on by the region, as having benefits for all member nations, in light of the havoc caused to the schedule by the coronavirus pandemic.

With the pandemic effectively shutting down international football, several match days were lost, and some teams were not afforded the chance to improve their rankings.  The governing body was therefore forced to come up with a new format for the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The new format comprises three rounds and provides all participating member associations with a chance to compete for the Confederation’s three and a half World Cup spots.

 The first round 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.

 The teams will play every other team in their group once, playing a total of four matches; two home and two away.  At the end of the round, the six group winners will progress to the second round.

The second round 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. The three winners will progress to the final round.  The final round 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. 

The final round teams are Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Honduras.  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.

“Everybody’s world changed in the middle of March with the pandemic.  Then we had lost the March windows, the June windows and now the September windows, so a lot of things were factored in,” Montagliani told the SportsMax Zone, in an interview on Tuesday.

“It’s not just about the World Cup qualifiers.  We had to look at the entire men’s calendar.  We had to look at the Gold Cup qualifying that is still under way.  We had to look at the Nation’s League final four, which is yet to be completed and we also had to look at Nation’s League 2.0, which was set for ‘21 but will now be played in ’22,” he added. 

“We looked at the number of games that needed to be played and the old format, which was not able to be completed in full because not everyone was able to complete their ranking requirements.”

Montagliani explained that the organisation also noted that the old format was not economically viable, and all the games squeezed into a tight time period would have proven to be an additional burden.

“I think it has something for everyone and I’m quite happy and proud of our group in coming together in a difficult time and coming up with an excellent solution.”

 

France coach Didier Deschamps is not yet thinking about attempting to retain the World Cup after signing a new contract.

Deschamps agreed a new deal on Tuesday that takes the coach through to the end of Qatar 2022.

France will first attempt to follow their successful campaign at Russia 2018 by claiming European Championship glory for the first time since 2000 next year.

Les Bleus were runners-up at Euro 2016, with Deschamps hoping to go one step further than their defeat to Portugal on home soil.

"It is an honour for me to be the coach of France," Deschamps told a news conference. 

"You know the attachment I continue to have for what this jersey represents.

"Sincerely, I thank the [French Football Federation] president [Noel Le Graet] for his confidence. The quality of our relationship is very important to me.

"There are still many things to do. Many have already been done. We are world champions in title. We are judged by the results.

"I am happy in my job. I have the best French players, with a remarkable state of mind. There are still beautiful things to do.

"Qatar is very far away. The goal is the Euros… My energy and that of my staff are focused on it."

No team has retained the World Cup since the great Brazil side featuring Pele won the tournament in 1958 and 1962.

Didier Deschamps will lead France in their World Cup defence after committing to Les Bleus through to the end of their Qatar 2022 mission.

The new deal for the head coach, confirmed at a news conference in Paris, rewards the former midfielder for his ongoing success with the national team.

Deschamps was contracted until the end of Euro 2020 but has committed for a further two and a half years to take in another World Cup trophy quest.

The Qatar finals take place from November 21 until December 18, and if Deschamps sees out his contract he will complete a full decade in his post.

Appointed in July 2012, initially on a two-year deal, he oversaw France's Euro 2016 campaign on home soil, where they lost to Portugal in the final.

Les Bleus went one better at Russia 2018, a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final seeing Deschamps match the feat of Franz Beckenbauer with West Germany and Mario Zagallo with Brazil in becoming a World Cup winner both as a player and as a manager.

He was captain of France's triumphant 1998 team and played most notably at club level for Marseille and Juventus, winning the Champions League with both.

Didier Deschamps will lead France in their World Cup defence after committing to Les Bleus through to the end of their Qatar 2022 mission.

The new deal for the head coach, confirmed at a news conference in Paris, rewards the former midfielder for his ongoing success with the national team.

Deschamps was contracted until the end of Euro 2020 but has committed for a further two and a half years to take in another World Cup trophy quest.

The Qatar finals take place from November 21 until December 18, and if Deschamps sees out his contract he will complete a full decade in his post.

Appointed in July 2012, initially on a two-year deal, he oversaw France's Euro 2016 campaign on home soil, where they lost to Portugal in the final.

Les Bleus went one better at Russia 2018, a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final seeing Deschamps match the feat of Franz Beckenbauer with West Germany and Mario Zagallo with Brazil in becoming a World Cup winner both as a player and as a manager.

He was captain of France's triumphant 1998 team and played most notably at club level for Marseille and Juventus, winning the Champions League with both.

Gareth Southgate plans to stay on as England manager for the 2022 World Cup if he feels there is "warmth" for him to continue, though he acknowledged that could depend on his side's performance at Euro 2020.

England secured their place at next year's finals with a 7-0 rout of Montenegro last week, before rounding off their qualification campaign in style by beating Kosovo 4-0.

After reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, the last four of the UEFA Nations League and qualifying for Euro 2020 comfortably at the top of Group A, Southgate conceded his side will now be singled out as one of the teams to beat in the tournament.

And the former Middlesbrough manager is aware how his position could change should England fail to impress next year.

"When you have a week like I've had, you sense that people can fall out of love with you and if there isn't a warmth for you to continue, then that can start to affect the team," Southgate, who dropped Raheem Sterling from his squad for the clash with Montenegro after the Manchester City forward's tussle with team-mate Joe Gomez, told reporters.

"So, I'm realistic about how quickly those tides can turn. For me, it's about what's next and I know in the end we'll always be judged ultimately by the tournaments.

"We've got to accept that [England are one of the favourites]. We should go in feeling confident about ourselves and, equally, we know there are areas of the game we've got to get better at. But I think all the top teams will feel the same.

"The players have the belief and we've got to keep giving them that belief, but we don't tell them lies, we are pretty honest with our appraisals of their performances and the sorts of matches they're going in to."

Southgate, however, will still be planning, even if he is uncertain as to whether he will lead England at the Qatar World Cup.

"I think when I started and we looked at other federations, we were almost embarrassed to go and look at where we should be preparing for," Southgate explained.

"And Germany were always there and they'd already secured the best hotel. So, I think we've had to be a bit bolder and say, 'no, look, it's not a jinx to go and do it'. We've got to have belief in what we're doing and execute the right preparation.

"Without taking any focus off what we're doing next summer we've got to get the next bit right, otherwise we'll be behind the curve. I think the best organisations get that short-, mid- and long-term planning right."

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