July 27 (Reuters) - The governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) on Monday unveiled a new qualification format for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after COVID-19 forced a rejig of the usual system.
The new format, which will feature all 35 of the region’s members, has been split into three rounds with the first being played in October and November with teams ranked from No. 6 to No. 35 in CONCACAF as of July 16 drawn into six groups of five.
The second round, to be played in March 2021, will feature the group winners from the first phase playing against each other in pre-drawn match-ups to determine which teams advance to the third and final round.
The second-round winners would join the top-five sides in the CONCACAF rankings — Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras — in the final round where each team plays 14 matches, home and away, against the other seven.
The top three teams from the final round, which will begin in June 2021, will qualify for the World Cup while the fourth-placed team will face an Intercontinental Playoff in June 2022. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)