Costa Rica on Friday learned the path it must take in regional qualifying in order to qualify for the 2022 Men’s World Cup.
Thanks to its FIFA ranking, La Sele has already advanced to the eight-team final round — which we, and every other news outlet worth reading, are calling “The Octagon.”
The region’s top teams will begin The Octagon, a 14-game round-robin, in September 2021. Costa Rica’s schedule is as follows:
- September 2021: Costa Rica at a preliminary-round winner, home vs. Mexico, and home vs. Jamaica.
- October 2021: Costa Rica at Honduras, home vs. a preliminary-round winner, and at the United States.
- November 2021: Costa Rica at a preliminary-round winner, and home vs. Honduras.
- January 2022: Costa Rica home vs. a preliminary-round winner, at Mexico, and at Jamaica.
- March 2022: Costa Rica home vs. a preliminary-round winner, at a different preliminary-round winner, and home vs. the United States.
The preliminary rounds will be played from March to June 2021. Canada, Panama and Curaçao are among the favorites to advance to join the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico in The Octagon.
The top-three finishers from The Octagon will earn CONCACAF’s spots at Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will play a home-and-away series with a team from another region to decide another berth.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out international matches in March and June, and that forced changes to the usual North American format for qualifying.
Every month has at least one home fixture for Costa Rica, highlighted by September (vs. Mexico), November (Honduras) and March 2022 (the United States).
“We have the opportunity to play home matches in every window,” said manager Rónald González. “In any case, it is our duty to be prepared to face all rivals in any circumstance.”