Sport

Deadlocked — CONCACAF final round schedule deferred to FIFA draw

Sean Williams

Saturday, October 20, 2012    

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The six nations involved in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament could not agree on a final playing schedule and have instead unanimously agreed to settle the matter with a FIFA conducted draw.

At a meeting at CONCACAF's office in Miami Beach yesterday, the six heads could not reach a consensus because "all the parties wanted the same thing".

While the match dates — starting in February and due to end in October next year — have been decided, the issue became sticky with the home-and-away schedule.

"A consensus couldn't be reached as to who would play who as everybody wanted the same thing... almost everybody wanted to open with a home match and end with one. That is impossible, so in the interest of all concerned we agreed to go to a publicised draw by FIFA," said president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell.

This draw, according to Burrell, is expected to be done in the first week of November at either CONCACAF's office in Miami or New York.

The Jamaica football boss, who attended the meeting with outgoing general secretary Horace Reid and the latter's proposed successor Raymond Grant, said yesterday's meeting was conducted in an air of camaraderie and courtesy.

"It was a courteous meeting which also addressed other important issues. For example we agreed on certain reciprocal protocols going forward, like how visiting teams should be treated. We looked at some of the challenges that faced us in the first round and vowed to improve on them. Also, we committed across the board to play the games in the highest spirit of fairplay," said Burrell, who also serves on CONCACAF's executive committee.

The other countries participating in the final round are Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the United States.

A CONCACAF release states that the Final Round "will start on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, and must conclude by October 15, 2013".

Each of the six teams will play the others in the group twice — home and away — for a total of 10 matches apiece. Following the completion of the round, the top three finishers will qualify automatically for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.

The fourth-place team will advance to a two-leg inter-continental play-off against the first-place team from the Oceania Football Confederation in November of 2013. The winner of that series will also advance to Brazil.

For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Honduras, Mexico and the United States qualified from CONCACAF.

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