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 earned the right to be seeded directly into League A, and therefore will not participate in Nations League Qualifying.
This was disclosed at CONCACAF today announced the details and structure of the Concacaf Nations League, a new centralized men’s national team competition representing a new era of national team football for Concacaf Member Associations. The new format with T&T being seeded also means this country has gained automatic qualification to the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
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 of which T&T has been placed in, 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 champion 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 head coach Dennis Lawrence, in an immediate reaction, spoke about this development.
“It’s a massive tournament and a very important one of that for the region and it is one I am sure everyone is very excited about. 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,” Lawrence told TTFA Media. “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 Daviid John-Williams and General Secretary Justin Latapy-George both attended Wednesday’s launch and draw in Miami.
Concacaf President Victor Montagliani spoke about the competition creating greater opportunities for member associations.
“The launch of the Concacaf Nations League, conceived over the last two years and guided by the ONE Concacaf principles of unity and access for our region’s football, is the defining moment marking the completion of our transition into a new era for our 41-member Concacaf family,” said Montagliani. “The Nations League assures that all our members will have the opportunity to play more and compete more, which in turn will propel greater development of the sport at every level.”
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 centralized 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 kickoff 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 MAs divided into four groups. The winner of each League C group will be promoted to League B.
The first edition of the Concacaf 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 & 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 Wednesday 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. For the up-to-date draw results, please visit www.Concacaf.com.
The results of Nations League Qualifying will be compiled into an aggregate table, ranking the participating teams 1-34 based on points earned, goal difference and a series of additional tie breakers. The table will be used to divide teams into Leagues A, B and C for the first full edition of the Concacaf Nations League. The top six teams from the aggregate table will join the six World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal Round participants in League A, the next 16 teams will qualify for League B, and the remaining teams will be assigned to League C.
The top ten finishers in the Nations League Qualifying final table will also join the six World Cup Hexagonal Round nations in the 2019 Gold Cup, which has recently been expanded to 16 teams, providing additional access to top-level football for more of Concacaf’s Member Associations.
The Concacaf Nations League is an on-the-field extension of Concacaf’s new image and brand architecture, which was also launched Wednesday, framing the Confederation’s efforts around the core ONE Concacaf vision of developing and stewarding the game on the pillars of Unity, Access, Football and Quality. In that spirit, the Nations League will provide greatly expanded access for Concacaf’s Member Associations to international football, enhancing the development of football across the region at all levels.
“The new brand image cements our unified philosophy of ONE Concacaf, and the Nations League brings that philosophy to life on the field of play, promising a brighter future in football for all our Member Associations and the players and fans they represent.”
Photo at top shows TTFA President David John-Williams next to CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani and the Presidents of the five other countries which qualified for the “Hex” that have been placed directly into League A of the Concacaf Nations League.