The road to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup has finally been paved, and the Barbados Football Association’s Senior Men will face off against Bermuda in the Preliminary Round 1 matchup in the first-ever Concacaf Gold Cup.
The Preliminaries, set to be held from July 2 to 6, 2021, will see 25 participating nations bring their best game to the table to advance to the Group Stage on July 10.
With the finals set to be held on August 1, the matches for the Prelims will be played in a direct elimination format, at a centralized location in the United States, to be announced at a later date.
The draw came off last night at Concacaf’s Headquarters in Miami, Florida. Concacaf’s President Victor Montagliani, who is also FIFA’s Vice President, said the live draw delivered exciting match-ups for all to look forward to, both in the Prelims and the Group Stage.
“I particularly enjoyed seeing the reaction of the head coaches live, as it really added to the occasion and set the scene for next year’s tournament. We expanded last year’s Gold Cup and it was a huge success in showcasing outstanding football from our region. We want to build on that for the 2021 edition, and believe the introduction of the Prelims and an exciting new format for the Knockout Stage will provide a great spectacle next year,” he said.
Montagliani added that while he knew many communities throughout the region were experiencing challenging times, the thoughts of everyone at Concacaf were with them.
“I hope tonight’s draw provided some anticipation for the fans, a chance to remember great Gold Cup moments of the past and to talk about football with friends and family,” he added.
The draw featured the 12 national teams from Concacaf Member Associations that earned a place in the Gold Cup Qualifiers following their performances in last year’s Concacaf Nations League (CNL) group stage, which was played in September, October, and November. This included the bottom-placed finishers in League A groups, the runners-up in League B groups and the winners of the League C groups.
Barbados was promoted to League B after defeating Cayman Islands 3-0 at the Wildey Turf in Group A of League C last November.
The Bajan Tridents were originally set to face Guyana’s Golden Jaguars in a home and away game back in March, with the hopes of going on to face Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors. However, the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic forced those games to be called off, and Barbados was given a straight ticket to the Prelims.
Pre-seeded teams included Haiti, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Guadeloupe, and Bermuda, while those with performances in the CNL; French Guiana, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Montserrat, and the Bahamas were placed into Pot 1.
With 2022 FIFA World Cup host and AFA Asian Cup Champions Qatar set to take part in the tournament as a guest, only three teams can qualify for the 2021 edition via the Qualifiers. They were placed in Pot 4, and the winning three teams from the Preliminary Qualifiers would join Qatar.
After direct elimination play over three-match days, the 12 teams would be reduced to a final three who would qualify for the Group Stage of the Gold Cup.
Matchup #1: Haiti vs St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Matchup #2: Guatemala vs Guyana
Matchup #3: Trinidad and Tobago vs Monserrat
Matchup #4: Cuba vs French Guiana
Matchup #5: Guadeloupe vs Bahamas
Matchup #6: Bermuda vs Barbados
Once Barbados defeats Bermuda, they would go on to face either Haiti or St Vincent and the Grenadines, before joining the USA, Canada, and Martinique in Group B at the Group Stage.
Matchup #7: Winner Matchup #1 vs Winner Matchup #6
Matchup #8: Winner Matchup #2 vs Winner Matchup #5
Matchup #9: Winner Matchup #3 vs Winner Matchup #4
Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao and Winner Prelims 9
Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique and Winner Prelims 7
Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname and Winner Prelims 8
Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada and Qatar.
The Knockout Stage, to be played among the top two finishers in each group, will for the first time in Gold Cup history see teams on opposite sides of the bracket meet from the quarterfinals onwards.
In previous editions, teams have only competed against opponents on the same side of the bracket until the Final. This change will add further unpredictability and excitement to the competition, which was expanded from 12 to 16 teams for a hugely successful 2019 edition.
The Knockout Stage will be played as follows:
Quarterfinal #1: Winner Group D vs Second Place Group A
Quarterfinal #4: Winner Group B vs Second Place Group C
Quarterfinal #2: Winner Group A vs Second Place Group D
Quarterfinal #3: Winner Group C vs Second Place Group B
Semifinal #1: Winner Quarterfinal #1 vs Winner Quarterfinal #4
Semifinal #2: Winner Quarterfinal #2 vs Winner Quarterfinal #3
Final: Winner Semifinal #1 vs Winner SF #2