RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, CMC – Eight-time Caribbean champions Trinidad & Tobago have been placed in Group-B with long-standing sporting rivals Barbados, as well as Guyana and Bermuda in the second round of CONCACAF qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
This follows the World Cup Preliminary Draw which set the matches for the first league stage of CONCACAF qualifying, dividing 24 teams into six groups of four.
Five preliminary phase winners: Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, and United States Virgin Islands – plus Bermuda which received a bye – were joined by 18 others for the draw from CONCACAF.
T&T, ranked 88th in the World and second in the Caribbean Football Union, will have to contest the second round of CONCACAF qualification from September 6 to November 15 this year against some challenging opposition.
The Guyanese, ranked 114th in the World and sixth in the CFU, are the Soca Warriors highest rated of their challengers, but their fixtures against the Barbadians, rated 145th in the World and 13th in CFU, will draw great interest from either side, while the Bermudians, 185th in the World and 21st in the CFU, could be a tricky assignment.
T&T Football Federation President Oliver Camps said he was confident that the national team could pull through.
“First, I must say the second round looks good for us, and it will give our coach a good opportunity to see his team develop a chemistry in those early matches,” T&T Football Federation President Oliver Camps said.
“But the semi-final round is where the intensity of the competition really increases, and it’s going to be a difficult journey for us, but certainly one which we can overcome with the right planning, preparation and execution.”
T&T were not among the top six seeded CONCACAF teams which included Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, and Jamaica.
Antigua & Barbuda, ranked 106 in the World and fourth in the CFU, have been drawn alongside Haiti, Curacao, and the United States Virgin Islands in Group-F.
Suriname, the World No. 110 and CFU No.5, is in a tough Group-A, along with El Salvador, Cayman Islands, and the Dominican Republic.
The CFU pair of Dominica and Bahamas looks doomed in Group-C that also comprises Panama and Nicaragua, so too, Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines in Group-E that also consists of Guatemala and Belize.
Group D which pulls together Canada, St. Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, and St. Lucia should also provide some intriguing results.
The six group winners will advance to the 12-team semi-final round with the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Caribbean champions Jamaica, and Cuba.
The draw also set the groupings for that stage with the United States and Jamaica facing the winners from Groups E and F; Mexico and Costa Rica will play with winners from Groups A and B; and Honduras and Cuba facing the winners from Groups C and D.
Two teams from each of those groups will advance to the final round of qualifying – commonly known as “The Hexagonal”.
Three teams from CONCACAF are guaranteed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with the fourth-placed team from
“The Hexagonal” facing off against the Oceania winner.
Preliminary Draw for CONCACAF
Group A — El Salvador, Suriname, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic
Group B — Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda
Group C — Panama, Dominica, Nicaragua, Bahamas
Group D — Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia
Group E — Grenada, Guatemala, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize
Group F — Haiti, Antigua, Curacao, U.S. Virgin Islands
Group A — United States, Jamaica, Group E second-round winner, Group F second-round winner
Group B — Mexico, Costa Rica, Group A second-round winner, Group B second-round winner
Group C — Honduras, Cuba, Group C second-round winner, Group D second-round winner
Fourth Round (hexagonal)
The top two teams in each group will form the fourth-round group, as known as the hexagonal, which will play 10 games in 2013.
The second round of CONCACAF qualifying matches will be played on the following dates:
* Sept 2-6 — two games
* Oct. 7-11 — two games
* Nov. 11-15 — two games
The third round of CONCACAF games will be played on:
* June 1-7 — two games
* June 8-12 — two games
* Sept. 7-11 — two games
* Oct. 12-16 — two games
The final round of CONCACAF qualifying will be held on:
* March 22-26 — two games
* June 7-11 — – two games
* June 14-18 — two games
* Sept. 6-10 — two games
* Oct. 11-15 — two games
FIFA has set aside two dates between Nov. 15-19, 2013 for the fourth-place CONCACAF side to play a runner-up from Oceania in an aggregate goals, home-and-away series to determine a spot in the World Cup