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31 Football Confederation Teams Will Battle for Final Eight Spots to Join USA, Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica in 12-Team Semifinal Round

CHICAGO (Tuesday, December 7, 1999) - The preliminary draw for the 2002 World Cup being hosted by Japan and Korea was concluded this morning at the Tokyo International Forum in Japan. The draw sorted through a record 194 countries from all six FIFA confederations attempting to join hosts Japan and Korea, and defending champion France, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

The U.S. is scheduled to enter The Football Confederation qualification play for the 2002 World Cup in the semifinal round, but won't know their actual opposition until the preliminary phase of FC qualification ends in the spring of 2000. Today's draw broke down the qualifying procedure for 31 FC area teams which will be weeded down to eight countries which will join Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States in the semifinal round. The draw for the 12-team semifinal qualification round will most likely take place in the spring of 2000.

The Football Confederation (formerly CONCACAF) 2002 World Cup qualifying procedure is very similar to the qualifying procedure used by the FC for the 1998 World Cup. It features two Central American Groups (A: El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala; B: Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama), whose winners will advance to the semifinals. The Caribbean knockout competition will see three of 24 teams advance straight into the semifinals, and three more advance to a final series against Canada and the two Central American group second-place finishers.

The United States will enter the FC qualifying competition in the semifinal round, where 12 teams will be broken into three groups of four. In the semifinal round of qualifying, which is being scheduled for the fall of 2000, each team will play home and away matches against the other three teams in their group, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the final round of qualifying. The six final-round qualifiers will be matched up in one group, where they will play 10 home-and-away matches against the other five countries.

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING BREAKDOWN -- THE FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION: The preliminary 2002 World Cup draw separated 30 FC teams into two Central American groups (A & B) and three Caribbean groups (1, 2 & 3). The 31st team in the FC mix is Canada, which is already slotted into a playoff against a Caribbean team. The preliminary FC qualifying phase will eventually result in eight semifinal qualifiers being placed into the following three pots, where one team from each pot will be placed into each semifinal group (C, D & E), but this portion of the draw will not take place until the spring of 2000:

Pot E (3 teams): Costa Rica, plus two Central America Group winners (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, or El Salvador)

Pot F (3 teams): Three Caribbean Group winners among 24 competitors (Cuba, St. Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago are seeded)

Pot G (3 teams): Canada vs. Caribbean Group 1 second place; Central American Group A second place vs. Caribbean Group 2 second place; Central American Group B second place vs. Caribbean Group 3 second place

Semifinal Group Seeds: Group C: Mexico; Group D: Jamaica; Group E: USA

Courtesia - US SOCCER

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