Concacaf has announced an updated schedule for qualifiers ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, following Friday’s FIFA Council decision that North and Central American teams can now play three games in one match window instead of two.
The schedule was already pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now four of the final five international windows will contain three matches each, placing increased demands on players. Teams await three games in the September and October 2021 international windows, as well as the January and March 2022 ones.
That leaves the final, eight-team round of Concacaf qualifiers starting in September 2021, first following four First Round match dates in March 2021 and June 2021. Concacaf nations ranked Nos. 6-35 – as based on the FIFA rankings through July 16, 2020 – were previously drawn into six First Round groups, with Canada part of Group B. Each country will play every other country in their group once, resulting in a total of four matches (two home, two away).
Here’s Canada’s entire group:
Group B (Canada)
- Cayman Islands
Should Canada win Group B, they’ll play the Group E winner in a home-and-away series in the Second Round. Those games are set for the June 2021 international window, with the three winners then progressing to the Final Round.
That leaves a tough road ahead for Canada, who could join the US men’s national team after Gregg Berhalter's team booked an automatic Final Round spot by being ranked 1-5 in Concacaf. That stage includes eight teams that’ll play each other home and away, resulting in 14 matches for each country.
After the Final Round, the top three teams directly qualify to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-placed team heads to the FIFA Intercontinental Playoff, which is scheduled to be played in June 2022.
Check out the the full USMNT schedule below as broken down by international window. All but November 2021 includes three games, while some opponents will be determined after the Second Round of qualifying concludes. Games against Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico are already confirmed.
Earlier today, @Concacaf confirmed our updated 2022 @FIFAWorldCup qualifying schedule which incorporates a number of three-match international windows.— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) December 4, 2020
Mark your 🗓, the 🇺🇸 enters "The Octagon" in September 2021.
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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to be played from Nov. 21 until Dec. 18 in Qatar. The USMNT are looking to qualify after missing out on the 2018 tournament in Russia, while Canada hasn’t qualified since the 1986 tournament in Mexico.