CONCACAF's Men’s U-20 Championship, originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic, will take place this summer in Honduras and determine the region’s representatives for both the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2024 Summer Olympics
The draw for the tournament, which runs June 18 to July 3 in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, is scheduled for March 3.
Last September, CONCACAF approved a new streamlined tournament, combining FIFA U-20 World Cup and Olympic qualification into a single event. Previously, men’s Olympic qualification took place through a separate CONCACAF tournament which typically took place when leagues were in season.
CONCACAF says holding the revised tournament in the summer will allow countries more opportunities to select their best young players.
“This enhanced CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship will showcase future stars of our region as they compete for the opportunity to qualify their teams to the FIFA U20 World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games,” CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio said in a statement.
The tournament will feature Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
The CONCACAF competition will open with a group stage June 18-23 featuring top-ranked 16 teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The top three in each of the four groups will move on to the knockout round of 16 along with Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico which advanced via an earlier qualifying tournament,
The semifinalists will qualify for the FIFA Men’s U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023 with the two finalists also booking their ticket to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.
Olympic qualification usually is contested by players who would be 23 or under come the Games. For the 2024 Olympic Games, it would have traditionally been players born 2001 or later (U-23 in 2024).
The revised CONCACAF format means the players will be born 2023 or later — so 19 years old in 2022 or 21 years old in 2024
The CONCACAF tournament draw will see the top-four ranked teams — the U.S. Mexico, Panama, and Honduras — seeded into Groups E, F, G, and H, respectively. The remaining 12 countries will be split into three pots according to their ranking as follows:
Pot 1: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, and Haiti.
Pot 2: Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, and Jamaica.
Pot 3: Antigua & Barbuda, Suriname, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Aruba.
The U.S. won the last edition of the CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship, defeating Mexico in the 2018 final played in Bradenton, Fla.
Canada has not qualified for the Olympic men's football tournament since 1984. The Canadian men have not taken part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup since hosting the event in 2007.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2022
The Canadian Press