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Despite the threat of a FIFA ban hanging over its head due to circumstance fully out of their control T&T senior men's football team has been listed as one of six Pre-seeded teams along with Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba, Guadeloupe and Bermuda for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup preliminary draw which will involve 12 countries.

This was disclosed yesterday when Concacaf confirmed that its first-ever Gold Cup draw will take place in Miami, USA on September 28 at 8 pm, and the made-for-tv live event will be hosted by Emmy award-winning TUDN sportscaster Lindsay Casinelli and Fox Sports Lead football Analyst and the United States Men’s National Team legend Alexi Lalas.

The draw for the preliminary will involve the 12 national teams inclusive of Pot 1 nations French Guiana, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Montserrat and Bahamas who earned their places in the Gold Cup Qualifiers through their performances in the Concacaf Nations League group stage, which was played in September, October and November 2019.

This includes the bottom-placed finishers in League A groups A, B and C, the runners-up in League B groups and the winners of League C groups.

The top six teams based on the Concacaf Ranking will be pre-seeded into match-ups one through six, and the next six will be drawn from a single pot. After direct elimination play over three match-days between July 2 through July 6, 2021, the 12 teams will be reduced to a final three who will qualify for the Gold Cup Group Stage.

For the Preliminary Round (Prelims), Concacaf’s Director of Development and former Grenada international star Jason Roberts will draw the teams while the draw for the Group Stage will be conducted by Concacaf Director of Competitions, Carlos Fernandez, alongside former Honduras national team star Wilson Palacios, a standout player in 2005, 2007 and 2011 editions of the Gold Cup.

The teams will be split into four pots based on the Concacaf Rankings and drawn into one of Groups A, B, C or D.

As the identity of the three qualifying teams through the Gold Cup Prelims will not be known until July 6th, 2021, for the draw there will be three spheres labelled as Prelims winners

The top four ranked nations (Pot 1) will be seeded based on the Concacaf Ranking, with the current Gold Cup Champions Mexico heading Group A, USA Group B, Costa Rica Group C and Honduras Group D.

The remaining competing teams will be distributed in Pots 2, 3 and 4 based on their ranking.

The guest team, Qatar, will be pre-drawn into the group which begins play on the latest date (Group D) as the team will also compete in the Copa America which concludes in early July.

A number of the national team head coaches will participate virtually in the evening’s event to provide live interviews following the outcome of the draw.

As part of the Confederation's football first philosophy, Concacaf last month announced a series of enhancements to the 2021 edition of its flagship regional tournament. These include a draw, the introduction of the Prelims to qualify the final three teams for the Group Stage and an exciting change to the Knockout Stage which will mean the top-seeded teams can meet before the Final.

Additionally, through the development of a long-standing agreement with the Asian Football Confederation, the Asian Cup champions, Qatar, will compete as a guest participant in the tournament. Concacaf, the Qatar Football Association and the Supreme Committee responsible for delivering the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will also partner on a game-changing football development initiative which will significantly boost community coaching in all Concacaf nations.

The draw will be available for fans across the region to view on TUDN (Mexico and USA), FS2 (USA and Caribbean), One Soccer (Canada) and other local partners. For other territories, the event will be available on the Official Concacaf App, Concacaf Facebook page and Concacaf YouTube channel (subject to territory restrictions).

The prelims will be played July 2 to July 6, 2021, while the Group Stage will begin on July 10 and the Gold Cup Final will be played on August 1.

Concacaf Gold Cup Group Stage Draw Pots (based on Concacaf Ranking as of August 2020)

Pot 1: (pre-seeded teams): Mexico (Group A), USA (Group B), Costa Rica (Group C) and Honduras (Group D)

Pot 2: Jamaica, Canada, Panama and El Salvador

Pot 3: Martinique, Curacao, Suriname and Grenada

Pot 4: Three Prelims Winners and Qatar (Group D)


SOURCE: T&T Guardian