by Carlena Knight
The Antigua and Barbuda Senior Women’s football team, the Benna Girls have been placed in Group A of the upcoming Concacaf “W” Women’s Championship qualifiers.
The draw which took place over the weekend saw 30 teams being placed into six groups of five.
Antigua and Barbuda will face off against powerhouses Mexico, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Anguilla.
The other group details will see Costa Rica, Guatemala, Saint Kitts and Nevis, US Virgin Islands, and Curacao battle in Group B.
Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Grenada and Cayman Islands play in Group C.
Panama, El Salvador, Barbados, Belize and Aruba face off in Group D.
Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and British Virgin Islands meet in Group E while Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Nicaragua, Dominica and Turks and Caicos Islands play in Group F.
They will play two home and two away matches in a single round-robin format. The six group winners will advance to the final Concacaf tournament.
The qualifiers are scheduled to take place during FIFA’s match windows of November 2021 and April 2022 and will serve as the preliminary round of the 2022 Concacaf W Championship.
The tournament will serve as the Concacaf qualifiers to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, as well as for the football tournament at the 2024 Summer Olympics in France.
The top two teams of each group will qualify for the World Cup, while the third-placed teams from each group will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.
In addition, the winners will qualify for the Olympics, while the second and third-placed teams will advance to the Concacaf Olympic play-off.
Canada and the United States, the two highest-ranked Concacaf teams in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings of August 2020, qualified automatically for the Concacaf final championship.
The revamped 2022 Concacaf W Championship is one of the two new major women’s summer competitions taking place from 2021 through 2024.
In total, eight teams will participate in the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, including the USA and Canada, and the six Concacaf W Qualifiers group winners. After Group Stage play, the top two finishers in each group will qualify for the competition’s semifinals and guarantee their place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023.
Additionally, both Group Stage third place finishers will advance to a FIFA Women’s World Cup intercontinental play-off. At the conclusion of the event, the winning nation will guarantee its place in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament and the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
The runner-up and the third place will also progress to a Concacaf Olympic play-in to be played in September of 2023. The winner of the play-in will also guarantee their place in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games and the 2024 W Gold Cup.
The draw event was hosted by former Canadian Women’s National team player and Olympic bronze medalist Kaylyn Kyle and Concacaf Head of Women’s Football Karina LeBlanc.
Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio, former Jamaica international Tashana Vincent and former Guatemala U-17 and U-20 international Lauren Markwith participated in the live event.