Cayman’s World Cup qualifying opponents drawn

Draw Assistant Shaun Goater (Bermuda) pick out Cayman Islands during the Preliminary Draw for Concacaf FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers at the Home of FIFA.© foto-net / Kurt Schorrer

The Cayman Islands will play three higher-ranked teams, including Canada, and one lower-ranked team in the opening round of the Concacaf qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The new Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are comprised of three rounds and provide all participating Member Associations from North America, Central America and the Caribbean with the chance to compete for the Confederation’s three and a half World Cup spots.

The First Round will be played between the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 6-35 based on the FIFA Men’s Ranking as of 16 July 2020. The 30 men’s national teams have been drawn into six groups of five.

Cayman, ranked 193rd in the world and 29th in Concacaf, is in Group B with Canada, Suriname, Bermuda, and Aruba.

First up is an away game against world #141, Suriname, on Wednesday 7 October, then hosting group favourites Canada on Sunday 11 October. Canada is the 7th highest ranked Concacaf team in the world rankings at 73. On Wednesday 11 November, Cayman travels to face Aruba, which at #200 and 31st in Concacaf is the only team in the group ranked below Cayman. The final qualifier is at home against Bermuda on Tuesday 17 November.

“This is a very exciting draw. It’s a challenge we relish,” said Cayman Islands national team coach Ben Pugh. He said the qualifiers fit in with their longer term plans of getting set for the next Concacaf Nations League and an opportunity to qualify for a future Concacaf Gold Cup.

“We’re looking forward to measuring ourselves vs some good opponents,” Pugh said, adding that hosting Canada should prove to be an exciting affair.

To advance to the Second Round, Cayman must win the group. Cayman had four wins in six games during the 2019/20 Concacaf Nations League and just missed out (by goal difference to Barbados) on a shot for promotion from the third tier.

“The FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of global football and the competition that players and coaches in our region, and the world over, dream of and aspire to compete in,” said Concacaf President and FIFA Vice President, Victor Montagliani.

“Today’s draw is the beginning of those dreams for our Member Associations, their national teams and of course the fans. It will create real excitement and anticipation in the Concacaf region.

“At Concacaf we are committed to providing more competitive opportunities for all our national teams, as clearly demonstrated by the expansion of Gold Cup and the hugely successful introduction of the Concacaf Nations League. The format for these World Cup qualifiers fits with that commitment, with all teams guaranteed at least four matches and having a clear path to the Final Round and Qatar 2022 itself.

“I know that many fans and communities in our region continue to face very challenging circumstances. My thoughts are with them and I hope that the prospect of an exciting World Cup qualification campaign in Concacaf can provide some hope and anticipation during such a difficult time for the world.

“To all the teams involved in this draw, and to their fans: your road to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is now set. Good luck, Buena suerte, bonne chance, success,” added Montagliani.

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