Saturday, March 19, 2011
CONCACAF qualifying format
Ok CONCACAF qualifying system is in place. It is easier to understand if I just group the teams based on ranking today. The top team in each group will advance. The top ranked team is the first team in each group. Therefore the top team is the favorite in this home and away qualifying.
The top team in each group will go to the very controversial Semi-final grouping. As we all know. The final 12 semi-final round last year had (Mexico, Canada, Jamaica and Honduras) while a very weak group of (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Suriname and Haiti) was another group. The 2006 qualifying was much more uneven. Mexico was group with 3 Caribbean nations (Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and Grenadines and St Kitts and Nevis). Hopefully when the nations get ranked again it will be more even of talent.
1. First round. 6 groups of 4 teams. This round would include the 5 qualifiers from the preliminary round plus teams ranked 7–25. The top team in each group would advance to the next stage.
2. Semifinal Round. 3 groups of 4. Teams ranked 1–6 would face off against the 6 group winners from the previous round. The top two in each group would advance. (As we know this will be controversial-hopefully CONCACAF wil get it right)
3. Final Round. This is the famous "HEX". Finally Mexico and the USA will play each other. The top two teams in each group from the semifinal round compete in one group of 6. The top three teams would advance to the world cup, while the 4th place team would advance to an intercontinental playoff.
First round example
6 groups of 4 teams
Turks and Caicos
St Kitts and Nevis
British Virgin Islands
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Antigua & Barbuda
Just some quick thoughts to my groupings so far. Group A Panama is a very good team that I want to get make it to the Semis. Both the the Dominica and Puerto Rico will test them. I have been looking forward to see Colin Clarke lead Puerto Rico with a full strength team. To bad it will be against Panama.
Group B Canada and Guatemala should not be grouped togather. This would be a shame. Both are capable of not only making the Semi-final but also the HEX. I hope they are not grouped together.
Group C El Salvador fans will celebrate before the qualifying begins if the ranking stay the same. I can not see any of these Caribbeans beating El Salvador in Cuscatalan Stadium.
Group D Will be a fight between the battle tested Grenada and the South American upstart Suriname (last quilifying Semi-finalist). St V has been know as the giant killers in the Caribbean Cup. Finally we will see how the huge populous nation of Dominican Republic has progressed. I think they are still 3-4 year away from being a competator but WCQ is just the place to launch the advancement of the sport here. It would be fun for me to see the Dominican Republic advance here. The good news is that it will bequite possible for any one here to advance.
Group E For some reason T&T seems to always gets favorable grouping and ranking...all the time!?! Guyana will not be antimidated and has many Guyanese playing in the T&T pro league. This would be a great rivalry to watch. Why do I feel T& T will somehow benefit from a favorable call!
Group F has Haiti as the highest ranked team. This could be the upset group. Haiti is still realing for their earth quake. The federation has no $ to prepare the team. Antigua and Barbuda will look to take the spot. They have a pro team in teh USA Division 2 league. Nicaragua has been building slowely and this qualifying tournament could be the nations launching pad to develope the sport in Nicaragua. Nicaragua wants to compete with Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras in Central America. This group is easier that the Central American Cup. Nicaragua is committed to making soccer the number 1 sport in the country.
Some goups are much more exciting for me than others. But the best stories for each country will come from this round. I can hardly wait.