The Hex remains. Kind of.
Concacaf on Wednesday announced the format for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, restructuring of the competition in two parts, one known and one totally new.
The Concacaf Hexagonal, the marathon, an iconic six-team round-robin podium that has served as the final phase of the North American region of decades qualifying, will remain in place. But instead of these six teams being determined by preliminary rounds as in the past, the Hex will now consist of the six major countries of the confederation based on the FIFA World Rankings published after the June 2020 FIFA window .
The Hex takes place during the FIFA international competitions of September, October and November 2020 and March and September 2021. The top three finishers qualify directly for Qatar 2022. The date, location and procedures for the draw that the groups and the competition schedule for the hexagonal group will be announced later this year.
Concacaf announces format for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Confederation qualification
– Concacaf (@Concacaf) July 10, 2019
The new part of the qualification concerns Concacaf countries ranked 7-35, according to the same FIFA World Rankings published after the FIFA window of June 2020. First, those 29 teams will compete in a group phase consisting of eight groups – five groups of four teams and three groups of three – who will fight around robin games all year round during FIFA windows of September, October and November.
The first placeers in each of the eight groups qualify for a knockout phase with one elimination, with quarter-finals, semi-finals and final matches played in a home-and-out format in March, June and September 2021.
The winner of that knockout phase is faced with the fourth-place finisher of the hexagonal group to determine the Concacaf representative in the intercontinental playoff of FIFA; the play-off matches at home and on the road between those two Concacaf representatives will take place in October 2021.
"The love for the game in this region is growing rapidly and our diverse and dynamic communities want a clear path to world-class football. Through our freshly designed formats – about FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Concacaf Nations League and Concacaf Gold Cup – we organize more competitive international competitions than ever before to help these communities realize their potential, "Concacaf President Victor Montagliani said in a statement.
"This new qualification structure from the FIFA World Cup, based on the FIFA rankings, ensures that every competitive match counts. In addition to the Concacaf Nations League, and our expanded Gold Cup, it raises the game standard to unprecedented levels and develops the sport in the region, making the leading Concacaf countries stronger on the world stage, while giving our emerging footballing nations the chance to pursue their dreams of playing at a World Cup. "