By Paul Nicholson
March 8 – CONCACAF have announced the structure and completed the first draw for their new tiered Nations League men’s national team competition that will ultimately include all 41 confederation members.
The new competition starts in September with a one-off qualifying phase that will then rank the North and Central American and Caribbean nations into three tiered leagues. This will create a group phase which kicks off in 2019.
The overall winners of the Nations League will be decided via a final between the top two finishers in the top tier.
Each of the tiers will be grouped. League A will contain four groups of three teams with group winners qualifying to the CONCACAF Nations League Final Championship.
The bottom four teams in the groups will be relegated to the second tier League 2 for the next edition, being replaced by the four group winners in League 2. The same relegation and promotion process will operate between League 2 and 3.
Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, the United States and Trinidad & Tobago were seeded directly into League A as they were the final six qualifiers for Russia 2018 play-offs – this means they will not play in Nations League Qualifying. Guatemala are ruled out as they are currently under FIFA suspension.
Nations League Qualifying will see the 34 nations play 68 fixtures in total.
“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 CONCACAF president Victor 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.”
The top ten finishers in the Nations League Qualifying final table will qualify for the expanded 16-team 2019 Gold Cup.
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