BY VIRTUE of having qualified for the Hexagonal Round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Russia 2018, Trinidad and Tobago, along with Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and the United States, have all earned the right to be seeded directly into League A, and therefore will not participate in Nations League Qualifying.
This was disclosed at CONCACAF yesterday, who announced the details and structure of the CONCACAF Nations League, a new centralised men’s national team competition representing a new era of national team football for CONCACAF Member Associations.
The CONCACAF Nations League begins in September with a one-off qualifying phase, while the group phase, consisting of three tiered leagues will kick off in 2019. The top league will end with a final to crown the Nations League champion, and the competition will also serve to unify the qualifying path for the region’s national teams to the newly expanded Gold Cup.
The inaugural CONCACAF Nations League competition will be played in the official FIFA match windows in September, October and November 2019 with a final championship to be played in March 2020. All eligible CONCACAF member associations will be assigned by sporting performance into three leagues: A, B and C.
League A, in which TT has been placed, will contain four groups of three teams. The winners of each League A group will qualify to the CONCACAF Nations League Final Championship, which will determine the champions of the new competition. The teams at the bottom of each League A group will be relegated to League B for the next edition of the tournament.
Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence, in an immediate reaction, spoke about this development.
“It’s a massive tournament and a very important one at that for the region and it is one I am sure everyone is very excited about,” he said. “As for us a country, it’s good that we are into League A as one of the teams which made it to the Hex. It puts us into a position where there’s a bit more time for planning and preparation to ensure we are adequately ready for our first point of action in the competition and one which I am sure we will be eagerly awaiting and prepared to enter.
“It’s a great step for us and we’ll definitely be focusing on making it all the way through and participating in the next Gold Cup especially as we missed out on the last competition,” he added.
TTFA president David John-Williams and general secretary Justin Latapy-George both attended yesterday’s launch and draw in Miami, United States.
Each league will be sub-divided into groups, in which the participating Member Associations will compete in a home-and-away, round-robin format over the course of the group phase. Nations League scheduling will be centralised in a fan-friendly, evenly distributed “week of football” format, allowing viewers across the region to enjoy quality international football matches at a variety of kick-off times, each day for the entire match window.
League B will contain four groups of four teams. The winner of each League B group will be promoted to League A, and the bottom team of each League B group will be relegated to League C for the next edition. League C will consist of the remaining Member Associations divided into four groups. The winner of each League C group will be promoted to League B.
The first edition of the CONCACF Nations League will begin with a one-off CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying phase, which will determine which teams are assigned to each 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 and Tobago have earned the right to be seeded directly into League A, and therefore will not participate in Nations League Qualifying. In view of the on-going suspension imposed by FIFA, Guatemala will not be able to participate in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying.
The draw for Nations League Qualifying, which was also held yesterday in Miami, has sorted the 34 Participating Member Associations into 68 total fixtures, to be played on FIFA match dates from September 2018 through March 2019.