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PRESS RELEASE – The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) today announced the details of the draw for the initial phases of the CONCACAF Preliminary Competition for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. The draw will be held in Miami at the W Hotel South Beach, at 7 PM ET on Thursday, January 15.
The event, involving 27 of the 35 CONCACAF Member Associations seeking to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, will determine the match-ups for the first two rounds of the five-round regional qualifying tournament in CONCACAF, which begins in March and runs through 2017.
The seeding for the draw for this edition of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying was based on FIFA rankings as of August 2014.The 35 Member Associations competing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup have been ranked 1-35 (please see below for the full ranking).
The fourteen (14) national teams ranked 22 to 35 (St. Kitts & Nevis, Belize, Montserrat, Dominica, Barbados, Bermuda, Nicaragua, Turks & Caicos, Curacao, US Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla – in order of rank) will dispute Round One of the Preliminary Competition, which consists of seven home-and-away series to be contested from March 23-31 of this year.
For Round Two, the thirteen (13) Member Associations ranked 9-21 (Canada, Cuba, Aruba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Suriname, Guatemala, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, Guyana, Puerto Rico – in order of rank) will join the seven (7) Round One series winners, for ten more home-and-away series to be held between 8-16 June, 2015.
Round Three, which consists of another series of home-and-away match-ups featuring the ten (10) Round Two series winners, joined by the two Member Associations ranked 7 and 8 – Jamaica and Haiti — will be played August 31-September 8.
The final six Member Associations (ranked 1 to 6) will join the competition for Round 4, which consists of three groups of four teams and is scheduled to be played in a round-robin format between November 2015 and September 2016.
The now-famed CONCACAF Hexagonal will constitute Round Five, continuing in its historic, six-team format (top two teams from each Round Four group), and will be played between November 2016 and October 2017, qualifying three CONCACAF nations directly to the FIFA World Cup and providing a further intercontinental playoff spot for the fourth-placed team.
The match-ups and groupings for Rounds Three, Four and Five of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying will be determined at the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Draw in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 25, 2015. Further information on the CONCACAF Preliminary Competition for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 can be found below.
CONCACAF PARTICIPATING MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS (PMAs)
The 35 Participating Member Associations are seeded based on the FIFA Ranking of August 2014. The seeding is as follows:
1. Costa Rica (15)
2. Mexico (17)
3. United States (18)
4. Honduras (43)
5. Panama (63)
6. Trinidad & Tobago (80)
7. Jamaica (85)
8. Haiti (117)
9. Canada (122)
10. Cuba (124)
11. Aruba (124)
12. Dominican Republic
13. El Salvador (127)
14. Suriname (131)
15. Guatemala (134)
16. St. Vincent & the Grenadines (134)
17. St. Lucia (138)
18. Grenada (142)
19. Antigua & Barbuda (149)
20. Guyana (153)
21. Puerto Rico (155)
22. St. Kitts & Nevis (159)
23. Belize (162)
24. Montserrat (165)
25. Dominica (168)
26. Barbados (169)
27. Bermuda (173)
28. Nicaragua (175)
29. Turks & Caicos (181)
30. Curacao (182)
31. US Virgin Islands (191)
32. Bahamas (193)
33. Cayman Islands (197)
34. British Virgin Islands (201)
35. Anguilla (207)
Round One (March 23 – 31, 2015)
The 14 PMAs ranked 22 to 35 (FIFA ranking as of August 2014) constitute the 14 Round One teams.
The round consists of 7 home-and-away series.
The seven (7) winners advance to Round Two.
Round Two (June 8 – 16, 2015)
The 7 Round One series winners will then join the 13 PMAs ranked 9 to 21 (FIFA rankings as of August 2014) in Round Two.
The 20 teams will be paired into 10 home-and-away series.
The ten (10) winners advance to Round Three.
Round Three (August 31 – September 8, 2015)
The 10 Round Two series winners will then join the 2 PMAs ranked 7 to 8 (FIFA rankings as of August 2014) in Round Three.
The 12 teams will be paired into 6 home-and-away series.
The six (6) winners advance to Round Four.
Round Four (November 7 – 17, 2015 / March 21 – 29, 2016 / August 29 – September 6, 2016)
The 6 Round Three series winners will then join the 6 PMAs ranked 1 to 6 (FIFA rankings as of August 2014) in Round Four.
The 12 teams will be grouped into 3 round-robin, home-and-away groups of 4 teams.
The six (6) group winners and runner-ups will advance to Round Five.
Round Five (November 7 – 15, 2016 / March 20 – 28, 2017 / June 5 – 13, 2017 / August 28 – September 5, 2017 / October 2 – 10, 2017)
The 3 Round Three group winners and 3 Round Three group runner-ups will contest Round Five.
The 6 teams will form 1 round-robin, home-and-away group.
The top 3 teams qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
The 4th placed team enters a home-and-away playoff with TBD
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