Thursday 07 July 2016, 09:29

Miami Beach braced for Hexagonal Draw

The Official Draw for the final round of FIFA World Cup™ qualifying in North, Central America and the Caribbean will take place on Friday 8 July in Miami. The gala event, from CONCACAF headquarters on Miami Beach, sets the ball rolling for the highly competitive Hexagonal, the region’s traditional six-team final qualifying stage.

The upcoming Hexagonal will run, for the first time in its history, outside of one calendar year. The competition, which boasts CONCACAF’s top teams and stars, kicks off in November 2016 and concludes in October 2017, sending three sides directly to Russia 2018.

So far, only giants Mexico are guaranteed a place in the final round-robin tournament, known simply throughout the region as the Hex. Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico, though thumped 7-0 by Chile at the recent Copa America Centenario, are undefeated thus far in Russia 2018 qualifying, and look like the team to beat in the field.

The other five teams will come to be known over the course of the remaining semi-final round, which have two matches to go and conclude in September. The potential remaining qualifiers are USA, who are pegged back in second-place in their semi-final group, 1986 World Cup participants Canada and Costa Rica, who shocked the watching world with their amazing quarter-final run at Brazil 2014. El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago also remain in contention for places at the all-important Hexagonal round.

The Draw on Friday will finalise the match schedule for the Hexagonal, with the competing nations (apart from Mexico) to be slotted in as they qualify. The top three teams at the close of the Hexagonal will qualify directly for the finals in Russia. The fourth-placed team faces an intercontinental play-off against an AFC opponent for a potential fourth ticket to Russia from the CONCACAF region, while the fifth and sixth-placed teams will be eliminated.