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CONCACAF Announces World Cup 2006 Qualifying Dates

CHICAGO (Wednesday, October 1, 2003) – CONCACAF has announced the final dates for qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006, where the U.S. Men’s National Team will attempt to qualify for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup. Qualifying will begin on the weekend of January 17-18, 2004, and will span 23 months, wrapping up on November 12 and 16, 2005. Should the U.S. advance through all three rounds of qualifying, they will play 20 total games (including 2 or 4 in the preliminary round, 6 in the semifinal round and 10 in the final round).

The top three teams in the six-team final round group with advance to Germany, while the fourth-place team will play a home-and-away series with a team from another confederation to give CONCACAF a chance to place four teams in the field of 32 at the FIFA World Cup for the first time.

The dates used for the qualifying schedule include those set aside in the FIFA International Calendar as well as dates reserved for Confederation and FIFA competitions. Contrary to past years, all CONCACAF countries will enter the qualifying competition in the first stage, rather than having select nations earning early round byes.

In the preliminary round, 34 CONCACAF teams will be divided into ten groups of three and two groups of two. The 12 semifinalists from 2002 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying will be seeded in these 12 groups, meaning that the U.S. will not face Barbados, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, St. Vincent & the Grenadines or Trinidad & Tobago in this stage.

The U.S. and other 11 seeds will be drawn into preliminary groups with one or two of the following 22 nations: Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands

The 12 group winners will be decided by June 20 and will advance to the semifinal stage. For the semifinals, the 12 qualifiers will be divided into three groups of four, with the top two from each group moving on to the final qualifying stage. The semifinals will run from August 18 to November 17, 2004.

The final group of six qualifiers will play home and away beginning February 9, 2005 until October 12, 2005 at which point the three automatic CONCACAF qualifiers will be known. The fourth-place team will face their two-game playoff in mid-November 2005.

2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Dates for CONCACAF

Preliminarily Round
Game: Day, Date
Date 1: Saturday/Sunday, January 17-18, 2004
Date 2: Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Date 3: Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Date 4: Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Date 5: Saturday/Sunday, June 12-13, 2004
Date 6: Saturday/Sunday, June 19-20, 2004 

Semifinal Round
Game: Day, Date
Game 1: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Game 2:  Saturday/Sunday, September 4-5, 2004
Game 3: Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Game 4: Saturday/Sunday, October 9-10, 2004
Game 5: Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Game 6: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 

Final Round
Game: Day, Date
Game 1: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Game 2: Saturday/Sunday, March 26-27, 2005
Game 3: Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Game 4: Saturday/Sunday, June 4-5, 2005
Game 5: Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Game 6: Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Game 7: Saturday/Sunday, September 3-4, 2005
Game 8: Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Game 9: Saturday/Sunday, October 8-9, 2005
Game 10: Wednesday, October 12, 2005  

Fourth-Place Team Playoff
Game: Day, Date
First Leg: Saturday, November 12, 2005
Second Leg: Wednesday, November 16, 2005