Hex no more: CONCACAF chief expects changes to World Cup qualifying

World Cup qualifying
Photo by Roy Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images
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CONCACAF’s new World Cup qualifying method was incredibly unpopular with most of the confederation, and now it’s going to have to alter it.

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped the international calendar in a big way, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani says the confederation will have to look beyond the celebrated six-team qualifying format popularly called “The Hex.”

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“I think on the balance of probabilities … the current World Cup format will have to be changed, which means, ultimately, that the Hex will have to be changed into some other form,” said Montagliani, the former Canada Soccer boss (video below). “Obviously it will be bigger, but what that number is, I don’t know until we have a calendar.”

As it stands, the huge beneficiary of an expanded field is Canada (and every team underneath it). They were seventh in the FIFA rankings and would only have hope of qualifying for the World Cup if they won the tournament pitting teams No. 7 and under, then beat the fourth-place team from the Hex, and then won an interconfederational playoff.

The top six teams are Mexico, the USMNT, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, and El Salvador. An expanded field could not include all 40-plus members, but here are the next 10 sides (if it goes to four groups of four):

Canada
Curacao
Panama
Haiti
Trinidad and Tobago
Antigua and Barbuda
Guatemala
St. Kitts and Nevis
Suriname
Nicaragua

The U.S. should still qualify given its status in the region, but we saw how that went in 2018. Here’s looking forward to the new format.