St Kitts and Antigua and Barbuda each scored big wins to close out the latest round of matches in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Saturday night.

There were also wins for Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

A Keithroy Freeman double sandwiched around a Rowan Liburd penalty paced St. Kitts and Nevis in a 4-0 win over the Bahamas, meaning the Sugar Boyz finish with a perfect March.

Omari Sterling-James came into the contest as a second-half substitute and fired a long-range shot that kissed off the post and in for the fourth goal at Thomas Robinson Stadium.

Meanwhile, a pair of familiar faces scored the goals for Antigua and Barbuda in a 3-0 victory against the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Veteran forward Peter Byers got on the board in the 26th minute with his long-time Benna Boys teammate Quinton Griffith netting a penalty in the 34th minute and then again from the run of play in the 42nd.

Guatemala also closed out March with a perfect start to qualification.

After Wednesday’s win over Cuba, Los Chapines earned a 3-0 win over the British Virgin Islands.

In the 22nd minute, Darwin Lom muscled off his defender and poked his finish home before the goalkeeper could block it. Moises Hernandez added a second, running onto Nico Rittmeyer’s cross into the box and finishing confidently. The lead was three in the 81st minute with Robin Betancourth getting on the end of a ball over the top and scoring just five minutes after entering the contest.

It was also a perfect start for the Dominican Republic, which topped Anguilla 6-0 on Saturday after last week’s win over Dominica.

Fresh off participating in the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship, Dorny Romero scored a double, converting a penalty in the 22nd minute and using his left foot to knock in a half-volley in the 27th minute.

Nowend Lorenzo also had a pair of goals, with a goal in each half. Romero turned provider and set up Domingo Peralta for a 65th-minute goal, and substitute Luis Espinal put in the final goal in the 74th minute.

There was also a big win for Nicaragua as Ariagner Smith and Juan Barrera each scored twice for their side to begin its Concacaf World Cup Qualifying campaign with a 7-0 victory over the Turks and Caicos Islands at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.

Barrera opened the scoring in the third minute, finishing off a low cross that came in from the right side to give La Azul y Blanco an early lead. Smith’s first came five minutes later, as he finished off a team move to double the advantage.

 Despite heavy rain that began to fall as the game progressed, the second half started in the same fashion as the first, with Marvin Fletes scoring from a corner kick just a minute after the restart. One minute after that, Smith added to his debut Nicaragua goal with a second score just a minute later. Barrera got his service from the left side in the 59th minute and completed his brace before making way, as Nicaragua manager Juan Vita made a number of modifications. Two of those changes found the back of the net, with Dshon Forbes scoring on a breakaway in the 78th minute and Matias Moldskred putting the cherry on top in the 87th.

Finally, Nigel Hasselbaink notched a hat-trick in Suriname’s 6-0 victory against Aruba, scoring twice in the first half and once in the second.

Ryan Donk was the last to touch a set-piece before it went in, adding another to his Suriname account after scoring a 3-0 victory against the Cayman Islands to open qualification. Florian Jozefzoon, on his debut for Dean Gorre’s men, and Roland Alberg also found the back of the net in the win.

 

St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, The Dominican Republic and Guatemala opened their World Cup qualifying campaigns with victories on Wednesday night.

Trinidad and Tobago will be barred from the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers if the suspension recently imposed by FIFA on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is not lifted by December 18.

The TTFA was suspended by the world football governing body last month, after missing a deadline to withdraw a case brought against the association in the Trinidad and Tobago High Court.  The dispute arose earlier this year, after FIFA’s decision to dissolve a then fourth-month-old TTFA board and install a Normalization committee to run the affairs of the country’s football.  The deposed William Wallace-led executive has refused to recognise the committee.  

The suspension immediately deprived the country of its full member benefits as part of the association, and also impacts its ability to take part in international competition.  Earlier this month, CONCACAF announced that the country would remain a part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup draw, but would be replaced by Antigua if the matter was not resolved by the identical date of December 18.  FIFA re-asserted its position in a letter to the Normalisation Committee on Tuesday.

“By way of this communication, we inform you that FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers for the Concacaf region (hereinafter: Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers) are scheduled to begin in March 2021. The organisation of such competition entails complex logistical and operational matters intensified by the COVID-19 crisis. In view of this, please note that FIFA has decided that, in order to ensure the proper preparation and planning of the participant teams, if the suspension imposed on the TTFA is not lifted by 18:00 CET on 18 December 2020, we have no choice but to exclude the TTFA from participating in the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers,” the letter stated.

“As a result of the suspension of the TTFA's membership of FIFA, the Normalisation Committee which was appointed by FIFA has necessarily ceased all operational and management functions over the TTFA. However, we want to highlight that the only legitimate leadership of the TTFA, recognised by FIFA and Concacaf, is the one led by Mr. Robert Hadad. Having said this any communication from FIFA with TTFA will continue to be exclusively being with Mr. Robert Hadad.”

According to FIFA, the TTFA must meet three conditions before they are re-admitted to global football.

  1. The TTFA complies with the terms and conditions of its membership of FIFA as set out under the FIFA Statutes, including in particular Article 59 of the FIFA Statutes;
  2. The TTFA acknowledges and confirms FIFA’s power and authority to appoint a Normalisation Committee subject only to the right of the TTFA to appeal such a decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport;
  3. The TTFA Statutes are amended to ensure that all type of disputes may only be submitted to the established dispute resolution forum at CAS. The suspension will immediately impact the country’s participation in the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

 

The draw details for the Concacaf Qualifiers to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 have been confirmed.

The draw will take place on August 19 and as previously announced, the Concacaf Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 will take place over the course of three rounds, beginning with the First Round in October and November 2020.

Thirty of Concacaf’s 35 FIFA Member Associations will start the journey to compete for the region’s 3.5 qualifying spots.

Based on the FIFA World Ranking as of 16 July 2020, the draw for the first round will allocate the 30 lowest-ranked Concacaf teams to six groups.

 

The pots for the first-round draw are as follows:

Pot 1: El Salvador, Canada, Curaçao, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago

Pot 2: Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic

Pot 3: Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bermuda, Belize

Pot 4: St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Montserrat, Dominica, Cayman Islands

Pot 5: Bahamas, Aruba, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla

 

The draw will begin by allocating the 30 teams into six different groups consisting of five teams in each group. The six teams from Pot 1, including 2018 FIFA World Cup participant Panama, will be pre-seeded to positions A1, B1, C1, D1, E1 and F1.

The highest-ranked team in Pot 1, El Salvador, will occupy position A1, while the lowest-ranked team in Pot 1, Trinidad and Tobago, will occupy position F1.

The draw will continue by identifying groups for teams in Pots 2, 3, 4 and 5. The position which each team occupies in a group is determined based on the pot from which it is drawn. For example, teams from Pot 2 will be placed in position 2 of each group, teams from Pot 3 in position 3 of each group and so on.

Teams drawn from each pot will be allocated to groups sequentially: A to F. The first team drawn will be placed in Group A, the next team drawn will be placed in Group B and so un until Group F.

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.”

 

Concacaf 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.

 

Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
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. 

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.

The 2015 Gold Cup was the start of a remarkable run of success for Jamaica in the Gold Cup. Two years later in 2017 under the guidance of Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica returned to the Final. Then in last summer’s Gold Cup, Whitmore’s side was once again in the title mix in reaching the semifinals, marking three straight Gold Cup semifinal appearances, becoming the only Caribbean nation to accomplish that feat.

With all those Gold Cup achievements under their belts, Whitmore’s objective is now to translate those Gold Cup results into success during Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.

“It says a lot about this group of players. This is a special group of players and it is nice to have so much Gold Cup success, but now our goal is to take that into World Cup Qualifying. Our ultimate objective is to reach the World Cup, so the way we have performed in the Gold Cup and Nations League, we have to bring that same mentality to World Cup Qualifying,” said Whitmore in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.

Although Jamaica’s 2017 Gold Cup ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat to the United States in the Final, Whitmore feels like there were many positives to be taken.

“It was a great experience. Our first goal was to get out of the group and we knew that once we got out of the group that we could do well. It was a great effort from the team to reach the Final. Unfortunately, we lost the Final, but overall, I am very happy with how the players played,” said Whitmore.

That run to the 2017 Final included a first ever Gold Cup win over Mexico when Kemar Lawrence’s late free kick made the difference in a 1-0 win.

“We knew with Mexico that the longer you keep them contained, your chances will come. We did a good job of limiting their attack. I think they only had a couple chances early. Defensively we were very good and stayed compact and organized. We were then able to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. On free kicks, we have two players who usually take them and Kemar had no doubts that he would take that. After the game we felt so much elation for the victory because the players worked so hard,” said Whitmore.

Jamaica followed up their 2019 Gold Cup semifinal finish with a strong display in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League in which the Reggae Boyz topped their group in League B with a 5W-1D-0L record. As a former Caribbean footballer and current coach, Whitmore is pleased to see so many different island nations reaping the rewards of Concacaf’s Nations League initiative.

“I think it is good for the whole Caribbean because the most important thing for players to raise their level is to have more games. Now, all of the Caribbean teams can make plans because they know they have games to play. It is very important for a player to have regular competition in order to improve and the Nations League has helped with that,” said Whitmore.

New initiatives from Concacaf are also being felt at the club level with the recent introduction of the Scotiabank Concacaf League in 2017, which has included the likes of Jamaicans clubs Portmore United, Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens. Since its inception, young Jamaican players have starred in the tournament and used its platform to earn moves to bigger clubs in the area and call-ups to Whitmore’s side.

“Before teams like Waterhouse, Portmore United, Harbor View, they would only play in the Red Stripe Premier League here in Jamaica. Now they can play in a Concacaf tournament, and that is important because you see their players get tested. That helps with the development of players. Players like Maalique Foster, Javon East, you see them perform in Concacaf League and they can move to bigger clubs,” said Whitmore.

It has been 14 years since Whitmore, an attacking midfielder, hung up his boots as a player following a sparkling 22-year career in which he excelled for both club and country. It also coincided with a time when some of the best midfielders in Concacaf history were in their prime.

“I played against some very tough midfielders. Rafa Marquez of Mexico is one who was very tough, Amado Guevara from Honduras. There were so many good players in midfield in Concacaf during that time, so I knew I always had a battle on my hands,” said Whitmore.

When he reflects on his career in a Jamaica shirt, there are a couple victories that stand out, but mostly his two-goal performance in Jamaica’s only FIFA World Cup victory, a 2-1 final over Japan at France 1998.

“In 1997 when we defeated Mexico to qualify for the World Cup, that was such a special moment because it was the first time that Jamaica qualified for the World Cup. I would also say when we beat Japan 2-1 in the World Cup and I scored the two goals.

“Of the two goals I scored, I like the first one the best. I remember the night before I was talking with Ricardo Gardner and Ian Goodison and we told each other that we had to win our last game, that we couldn’t leave the World Cup without a win. They told me that I needed to be the one to score, since I had scored the first goal in qualifying against Suriname, so they said I should be the one to begin and close our journey. You can see on the video that I score the first goal and Ricardo and Ian come celebrate with me. The second goal was also a feeling of great joy,” concluded Whitmore.

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