CONCACAF World Cup Africa Update

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Caribbean teams “Last Lap” before World Cup qualifiers

What is considered to be carnival “Last Lap” in Trinidad and Tobago will in fact coincided with the last lap for a number of teams in the Caribbean before they embark on their World Cup 2010 qualifying schedule. For those who are not familiar with the term, “last lap” it is a terminology used for the window of opportunity when one can celebrate and be festive before the official end of an event. For most of the Caribbean teams, this year T&T Carnival on February 4&5 marks the end of their football preparation and Ash Wednesday on February 6 will signal the start of their CONCACAF World Cup journey.

 Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors will be playing against Guadeloupe in Port of Spain on Ash Wednesday and although the game is an international friendly, barring personnel problems Guadeloupe should present a good challenge to the Soca Warriors if they can play at their Gold Cup semi final form. Also prior to this game the T&T Soca Warriors will travel under recently appointed interim head Francisco Maturana to play Puerto Rico on January 26. Puerto Rico will be coming off a pair of friendly games against Bermuda in Hamilton Bermuda on January 16 and 18. The same can be said of the game between Jamaica and Costa Rica in Kingston on February 6 as Costa Rica will be determine to get their team on track to end their eight game winless streak after a 1-0 lost to Sweden.

Bermuda will be hosting the Cayman Islands at the National Sports Centre in Hamilton on 3 February 2008 to kick off the CONCACAF World Cup Qualification Bermuda and does not have the luxury of a last lap as the other Caribbean teams. The other six games of the first-leg of the CONCACAF W/C Qualification will  continue on Ash Wednesday February 6 with Dominica at home against Barbados at the Windsor Park Stadium in Roseau, while Turks & Caicos Islands will be hosting their first ever CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying game against St. Lucia at the Providential’ National Stadium.

At the same time Aruba will face Antigua & Barbuda at the Centro Deportivo Guillermo Trinidad in Oranjestad, while Belize plays at home against St. Kitts & Nevis at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.

Also on Ash Wednesday, El Salvador will be hosting Anguilla at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan while host Nicaragua plays Netherlands Antilles at Estadio Cacique Diriangen in Diriamba.

The CONCACAF World Cup Qualification first-leg Stage one will close off with the British Virgin Islands against the Bahamas at the BFA National Centre in Nassau on 26 March.

 FIFA also announced that three originally scheduled Stage one elimination match-ups between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Grenada versus US Virgin Islands, and Montserrat against Surinam will be scheduled during the second-leg encounters of stage one in late March and will no longer be played as a home-and-away series but as a single elimination game due to several National Associations not meeting the new FIFA Stadium standards and being unable to secure a home venue.

The remaining fixtures for the second-leg encounters for Stage one of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification scheduled for 26-30 March will be unveiled at a later date. The winners of Stage one will join the 13 remaining teams in Stage two of CONCACAF Qualification set for June.

The eventual top three teams from the CONCACAF Final Round in 2009 will automatically qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup while the fourth place finisher will play in a home-and-away playoff series with the fifth-place team of the CONMEBOL’s for one of the last berths to the FIFA World Cup South Africa.