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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Faster path to 2022 World Cup for Costa Rica, United States

New-look North American qualifiers for the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2022 will retain a six-team hexagonal round-robin showdown in the final round while revamping the path for others, CONCACAF said Wednesday.

A two-part system will take place during FIFA match windows in 2020 and 2021 with the region’s six highest-ranked teams in the June 2020 FIFA rankings playing for three direct berths, the governing body for football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean said.

Costa Rica is currently CONCACAF’s third-ranked team, behind Mexico and the United States.

CONCACAF nations ranked seventh to 35th in the region in those same rankings will be divided into five groups of four and three groups of three and play round-robin matches in 2020.

The eight group winners advance to a knockout phase with matches in March, June and September 2021.

The knockout winner will face the fourth-place finisher from the hexagonal group in a two-game home and away playoff in October 2021 to decide CONCACAF’s spot in an intercontinental playoff for a World Cup berth.

“The love for the game in this region is growing rapidly and our diverse and dynamic communities want a clear pathway to world-class football,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said.

“Through our freshly designed formats … we are staging more competitive international matches than ever-before to help these communities fulfill their potential.”

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