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Friday, March 18, 2011

CONCACAF forcing FIFA's hand

It seems CONCACAF will revert to the hexagonal, but with a twist. The 6 highest ranked teams will get a bye to the second round (three groups of four).

Chuck Blazer complained about not having enough FIFA dates for the old format, yet the hex format needs two extra FIFA dates (24 compared to the 22 needed by the old format).

According to press reports, the March 2011 FIFA ranking will be used to seed the teams.

The format:

  1. The bottom 10 teams will be involved in a home and away KO round in June 2011.
  2. The top 6 (USA, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Cuba according to the March 2011 FIFA ranking) get a bye to the next round. The other 24 teams are split in 6 groups of 4. Only the winners advance to the next round.
  3. The twelve teams will be split in 3 groups of 4 teams. The top two in each group will advance to the hexagonal.
  4. The hexagonal - top 3 qualify to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 4th team advances to an intercontinental playoff against a team from AFC, CONMEBOL or OFC - it will be decided on July 30, 2011.

CONCACAF are forcing FIFA's hand with regards to the intercontinental playoffs. FIFA said "Sufficient time will be allowed between the home and away legs of these (intercontinental) play-offs". Most likely the first leg of the intercontinental playoffs will be played in October 2013, with the second leg scheduled for November 2013, much like the AFC - OFC playoff for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. However, the hex only finishes in October 2013.

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Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. My hat goes off to CONCACAF. With the regional desire to keep the Mexico/US match, this NEW new system may actually be superior to the new system. My biggest gripe is removed with the seeding of six teams to the final round. It will be hard for teams outside the top six to advance, but so many more teams get the extra games they desired, only five teams will go out after two. And no one is getting screwed by having to deal with one of CONCACAF's best teams. It's hard but fair. I think at least one team will get screwed out of a place in the last 12 by bad refereeing though, especially with the poor standard of refereeing in that zone. But this really seems like the best system they could have come up with to me under the circumstances. Well done CONCACAF. That first round should produce some exciting games. I expect the likes of El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago and perhaps even Canada if they fail to perform at the Gold Cup will be outside the top 12 in the rankings when the draw is made setting up some hard fights for places in the last 12.

  2. EDIT: Seeding of six teams to the penultimate round.

  3. I hope they mean March will only be used to seed the preliminary round...

    The Gold Cup should be factored in for the later rounds. It is a vital tool for determining who is at what level.

  4. Oops! Forget what I said about El Salvador, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. I was still thinking about the new system, not the NEW new system. They all look good for making the top 12 and being top seeds for that Round 1. I guess there won't be too much excitememnt after all. Still some potential though. Ought to be plenty of heavy beatings.

  5. Hold on!

    The new system was 20/22 games max.

    The NEW new system would be 24/26 games max. What's going on?!

    Preliminary round 2 games
    Round 1 - 6 games
    Round 2 - 6 games
    Round 3 - 10 games
    Playoff - 2 games

    26 max.

    Lorric is all confused :)

  6. If this is somehow do-able, It's highly likely that at least one team from Round 1 will make the hex. That would mean that team playing 22 qualifiers at least. So much for South America's "gruelling" qualifying campaign, which would be reduced to a piddly 16 games by comparison with Brazil's absence. And those 22 games coming right after the Gold Cup.

    It seems weird to me to scrap a system for having too few dates to work with, then creating a new one with several more dates that somehow fits. How this is possible I don't know.

  7. Not sure if we will ever find out the real reason why Blazer complained about not enough match dates to accommodate the previously proposed format -- then to scrap it in favor of one with MORE match dates. However, I would love to hear the reason :-)

  8. I also hope that the March FIFA Ranking will only be used for the 10 matches in the Preliminary Round.

    The "Global" draw at the end of July would be great if the remaining 30 CONCACAF teams were then drawn based on the most recent ranking (which would include the Gold Cup, and making the Gold Cup important for seeds 1-6 and seeds 7-12).

    I can only wish.

    The other thing that would have been interesting would be to adopt the Asian performance approach, where the six teams from the prior hex would be seeded 1-6. However, I'm not as keen on this.


  9. @ Dorian

    I checked through the dates and the old format fell short by 2 dates. So how this one is going to work I have no idea.

    Yes, I never considered the fact it might encourage fierce competition at the Gold Cup with the trophy itself no longer being the only prize up for grabs...

    Could you imagine a team from Round 1 securing the playoff spot in this system? 24 World Cup qualifying matches! And add the Gold Cup to that...

  10. They missed the target. I believe this would be better:

    1. First round to reduce the teams to 30 (instead of 32, as it would be).

    Dates: 2 (as it was planned)

    2. Divide the 30 teams in 5 groups of 6 (instead of 32 in 8 groups of 4). Group winners and the best 3 runners-up qualify to the last groups stage.

    Dates: 10 (it would be 12, in two stages with 6 each)

    3. Divide the remaining teams in 2 groups of four (as it was planned). Both groups winners advance to the World Cup.

    Dates: 6 (as it would be)

    Total dates: 18 (instead of 20). This two dates saved would be used for the last qualifying playoffs.

    4. Runners-up face each other in a home-away series. Winner qualify to the World Cup; loser to the intercontinental playoff.

    Total dates: 20 (as it was planned).

    Same concept as the old attempt to make a new qualifying, but with a slightly different format. Same numbers of dates, a very few more games played. Everything would be in its proper place…

  11. I can't believe they're using the March 2011 ranking, it's obviously wrong, Panama should be there instead of Cuba, it's a total fluke that Cuba is that high up, they should use the August 2011 ranking, right after the Gold Cup, which is when the teams will bring their top guns and those that do well will probably move up.

  12. I agree with the previous Anonymous. Panama hasn't lost in several Fifa matchdates, recently beating Conmebol's Bolivia (2-0) and PerĂº - not to mention Venezuela, Cuba, etc. Panama historically does quite well in the Gold Cup, having beat in it guests Colombia (twice), South Africa, and tying with The US in the 2005 finals. Also, if Mexico's bad-boy former coach Aguirre had not kicked #15 forward Phillips (and thus provoking one of Football's most unfair red cards in Concacaf history, and a long history it is), who know's how Panama would have done in the latest Gold Cup.

    I agree with Lorric - Concacaf has the worst refereeing of all Fifa. If you were to see local games of the Panamanian league, you would see much better refereeing than those by the likes of several Concacaf judges. Some of the Panamanian refs and linesmen are actually women, who put more order in the pitch than any Concacaf male ref I've seen.

  13. They should put all the teams in a due or die round with no exception is the usa or mexico r good they will pass...if y'all c the team from the 2round goin have a better condition...the futbol in panama b growin in the last years they should b in the top 6 from concacaf..cuba sucks even canada and salvador have better futbol

  14. Minnows would learn nothing from being destroyed by USA or Mexico. I like the format, but not the seeding. They could have used the July ranking. Panama would have been in the second pot.