SIX BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES FEATURED IN AUGUST’S FIFA WORLD CUP DRAW
By Craig Brewin, firstname.lastname@example.org
There are seven British Overseas Territories competing for qualification for the 2022 mens FIFA World Cup. Gibraltar will find out its opponents later in the year, possibly in November, but on August 19th the draw for the Concacaf region took place, with Bermuda, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla and Cayman Islands, all discovering their route to the finals in Qatar.
The draw was made by Manchester City legend, and Bermuda’s most famous former player, Shaun Goater, who pulled out some notable ties. Bermuda, who became the first British Overseas Territory to play in a major international football tournament when they played in the Gold Cup last year, have a home game against fellow BOT the Cayman Islands. Montserrat will play a local derby against their near neighbours, Antigua and Barbuda.
The revised format for qualification, amended again recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has created a few David v Goliath clashes. Canada, in particular, were expecting to be seeded out of this first round, but now have to compete to get to the final qualifying group. This means playing in a first round of 30 teams in six groups, and then a two-legged knockout game between the six group winners, to decide who joins the five top seeds, including the USA and Mexico, in the final round. But they first have to get past Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, who will no doubt be relishing the opportunity to stymie their ambition.
Montserrat will face El Salvador for the third tournament in a row (and their three games against El Salvador account for all three of their defeats over their last ten games). Anguilla will play 2018 World Cup qualifiers Panama, Turks and Caicos face last year’s Gold Cup semi-finalists Haiti, and BVI will play the Dutch territory of Curacao, who made the quarter finals the last Gold Cup and who have a team made up mainly of Netherlands born professionals. Although the Dutch and British Overseas Territories are can compete for the World Cup, the French territories (including the excellent Martinique team) are not, for constitutional reasons, FIFA members so cannot enter.
The full draw can be found on the Concacaf Website: https://www.concacaf.com/en/world-cup-qualifying-men/article/concacaf-qualifiers-draw-sets-path-to-fifa-world-cup-qatar-2022
Anguilla will be playing 2018 World Cup qualifiers Panama
The games are scheduled to take place in October and November this year, but we await to see the impact of the pandemic on the dates and venues. Travelling around the Caribbean is severely restricted at the moment, and there must be a worry that the professionals playing outside the region, such as Lyle Taylor of Nottingham Forest and Montserrat, may not be able to meet the quarantine arrangements currently in place during such a short window.
Concacaf has already cancelled this year’s Gold Cup qualifying play-offs, and will instead hold a centralized mini-tournament next summer in its place. Bermuda and Montserrat have already qualified for that. But the Concacaf President, and FIFA Vice President is staying upbeat. After the draw, which was held in a socially distanced studio in Zurich, he said: “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,”
“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”