CONCACAF could have up to eight 2026 World Cup qualifiers: That’s the way for Costa Rica

Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup does not seem like a complicated task, and to tell the truth, there are many options for the Costa Rican national team to play their fourth consecutive World Cup (seventh in total). CONCACAF has announced that there are three direct and two playoff spots available for 2026, in addition to the places confirmed by Canada, Mexico and the United States as hosts.

In other words, the next World Cup can be played by as many as eight teams from the region, which, by the way, will be the first with 48 participants, and not the 32 who usually apply. Canadians, Americans and Mexicans will not be part of the playoffs route, starting in November 2023. It will be the other 32 CONCACAF teams that will fight for spots.

The course of the World Cup will consist of three rounds and Tricolor Its adventure will begin in June 2024. In the new system, Costa Rica will be placed first in a group with four other teams, however, Concacaf has not clarified how this distribution will be made and whether the FIFA ranking will be used.

Until, 12 teams reach the final stage, which will be divided into three groups of four. It could be a tough group, if teams like Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica and El Salvador reach this stage. Thus, at least two will be involved in the group.

She is not yet firm against whom she will play the qualifiers. FIFA will announce it later.

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CONCACAF step by step:

First round: March 2024, four member associations (two dates for matches)

The first round will be held between the four lowest-ranked member associations (according to the FIFA Men’s Ranking for November 2023). The four national teams will be divided into two matches as follows:

  • The highest-ranked team vs. the worst-ranked team
  • The second best ranked team vs. the third best ranked team

The two-legged matches in FIFA history will take place in March 2024. At the end of the first round, the two winners of the clashes will advance to the second round.

– Second round: June 2024 and June 2025, 30 member associations (four match dates)

This is where Costa Rica comes in. The second round will take place between the winners of the first round and the remaining 28 participating member associations.

The 30 national teams will be divided into six groups of five teams, with each team playing the other teams in its group for a total of four matches per team (two home and two away).

The matches of the second round will be played on the FIFA dates of June 2024 and June 2025. At the end of the second round, the first and second place in the groups (12 teams in total) will advance to the final round.

Final round: Fall 2025, 12 member associations (six match dates)

The final round of CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held between the first and second places of the second round groups (12 teams total).

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The 12 national teams will be divided into three groups of four teams. Within each group, the teams will play against each other home and away. In total, each team will play six matches (three home and three away).

The Final Round matches will take place on Fall 2025 FIFA dates (exact dates awaiting FIFA confirmation). At the end of the final round, the three group winners will qualify directly for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, joining host country Canada, Mexico and the United States.

In addition, the two best runners-up will qualify for an intercontinental play-off for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Amber Cross

"Music buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Organizer. Social media maven. Web nerd. Incurable reader."

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