CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying will involve 34 of the region’s 40 currently eligible men’s national teams, and will be played on FIFA match dates from September 2018 through March 2019. Nations League Qualifying will set the table for the first edition of the CONCACAF Nations League, which will launch in 2019 with all eligible CONCACAF Member Associations.
“CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying represents a watershed moment for CONCACAF and its 41-member family,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani. “When the ball rolls in September, it will mark a new era of international football for our Member Associations, conceived in line with our ONE CONCACAF vision, during which all our countries have the chance to weigh themselves against the Confederation’s best, while widely developing national team football on and off the field.”
The newly launched CONCACAF Ranking will be used for the first time to index the 34 participating teams for the live CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying draw to be held on Wednesday, producing an evenly weighted slate of fixtures. Each team will play a total of four matches between September and March, resulting at the qualifiers’ conclusion in a combined table which will be used to seed all 34 contestants into tiers for the inaugural edition of the full CONCACAF Nations League.
By virtue of having qualified for the Hexagonal Round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Russia 2018, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, the United States and Trinidad & Tobago earned the right to be seeded directly into the top tier of the inaugural Nations League, and therefore will not participate in the Nations League Qualifiers. Those Member Associations may instead use the late 2018 and early 2019 FIFA dates for international friendly matches. In view of the on-going suspension imposed by FIFA, Guatemala will not be able to participate in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying.
The full format of the CONCACAF Nations League will be revealed at the launch event at 10 am on Wednesday, March 7 in Miami, which precedes the Nations League Qualifying draw. The event will be transmitted live on CONCACAF platforms, including concacaf.com.
For more information on the new CONCACAF Ranking Index, please visit www.concacaf.com. Full draw procedures can be found below.
CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying Draw Procedures
The 2018 CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying Draw will be conducted using four (4) pots containing all eligible participating Member Associations (PMAs), except for the six (6) teams that participated in the Hexagonal Round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Russia 2018.
Based on the CONCACAF Ranking Index, all eligible teams will be divided into the four pots (A, B, C & D) as follows:
- Pot A will include the top eight (8) ranked participating teams — Jamaica, Canada, Haiti, El Salvador, Martinique, Cuba, French Guiana and Guadeloupe.
- Pot B will include the next nine (9) ranked teams after Pot A — Nicaragua, St. Kitts & Nevis, Curacao, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Guyana and Belize.
- Pot C will include the next nine (9) ranked teams after Pot B — Bonaire, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Dominica and Aruba.
- Pot D will include the final eight (8) ranked teams — Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten, Anguilla and British Virgin Islands.
A computerized pre-draw has produced a Master Schedule for Nations League Qualifying, creating seventeen (17) fixtures for each of the four (4) FIFA match windows. Since time constraints make larger scale round-robin play among 34 teams unfeasible, this innovative, equally-weighted draw will result in a competitively balanced four-match fixture list for each nation. The computer model assures that no teams face each other more than once, and that each team plays two (2) home and two (2) away matches.
The order of the match ups per each FIFA match window will be as follows:
- Match Day 1 – September 2018: Pot A vs. Pot D, and Pot B vs. Pot C.
- Match Day 2 – October 2018: Pot A vs. Pot C, and Pot B vs. Pot D, plus one team from Pot B vs. one team from Pot C.
- Match Day 3 – November 2018: Pot A vs. Pot B, and Pot C vs. Pot D, plus one team from Pot B vs. one team from Pot C.
- Match Day 4 – March 2019: Pot A vs. Pot A, Pot B vs. Pot B, Pot C vs. Pot C, and Pot D vs. Pot D, plus one team from Pot B vs. one team from Pot C.
The master schedule will be pre-populated with all sixty-eight (68) match-ups identified by place holders representing all the teams from the four (4) respective pots. The teams in Pot A will be identified as A1 to A8. The teams in Pot B will be B1 to B9. The teams in Pot C will be C1 to C9. The teams in Pot D will be D1 to D8.
The draw will commence by drawing all the teams from Pot A in sequential order, and placing them as they are drawn into the master schedule, with the place assigned according to the order in which each team is drawn. Next, all the teams from Pot D will be drawn and placed in the same manner. Once all the teams have been drawn from Pot D, the draw will continue by drawing and placing all teams from Pot B, followed by drawing and placing all teams from Pot C.
By drawing all teams from Pots A, B, C and D and assigning their place for Match Day 1, the Master Schedule will be automatically populated with all sixty-eight (68) fixtures of the four FIFA match windows for the entire Nations League Qualifying phase.