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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) has already put a number of steering committees in place, as it jumpstarts plans ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers slated to start in October.

This is according to president Everton Gonsalves, who said the FA’s technical team is set to meet and finalise the way forward.

“The technical department will be convening a meeting to look at it and then see what we need to put in place barring any further information that the dates originally scheduled would have to be put back [but] the technical director [Rolston Williams] has certain things in mind and so I would allow him to speak to that. He has squad selection in his mind, coach selection in his mind, and the like,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda will contest Group A of the CONCACAF qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, US Virgin Islands and Montserrat, with the first round of matches set for October 7.

According to FIFA, teams ranked sixth to 35th in CONCACAF, based on the FIFA rankings of July 2020, are drawn into six groups of five and will play single round-robin matches (two home and two away), with group winners qualifying for the second round.

The six first round group winners will play in a two-legged home-and-away series with the three winners advancing to the final round.

The three second round winners will then join the top five CONCACAF teams also, based on the FIFA rankings of July 2020 and play home-and-away round-robin matches in one single group. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, and the fourth-placed team advances to the inter-confederation play-offs.

Gonsalves said the FA is also in the process of putting protocols in place for the hosting of matches.

“The protocols steering committee met on Friday and we have, amongst ourselves, agreed on a set of protocols and those protocols will be submitted to the executive for their perusal and approval and then we could share those with the ministry and any other organisation and department we have to present them to,” he said. Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras have already qualified directly for the third round of the qualifiers.

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