• Monday Nov 19, 2012

    Draw to divide field for U-20 Championship

    The field is set; all that remains left is to determine who plays who.

    Wednesday's draw for the 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, will divide the 12 qualifiers into four groups of three teams, setting the stage for the first round of the biennial tournament February 18-March 3.

    The format for the draw - to be conducted at Casa Puebla, a provincial government complex that contains the office of the regional governor -- will have the teams seeded into three pots by geographic region, with Jamaica joining automatic North American qualifiers Canada, Mexico and the United States.

    Central American sides Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua will be grouped in a second pot with Caribbean qualifiers Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Curacao in the third.

    Host Mexico, the 11-time and defending champion, will be placed in Group D with the designation as D1 to assure it will play in 42,648-seat Estadio Cuauhtemoc in Puebla. Similarly, 12-time World Cup qualifier the United States will be placed in Group A with the designation of A1 to make sure it will play its games in the 20,411-capacity Estadio Universitario.

    The rest of the draw will begin by selecting one of the two remaining balls: containing the names of Jamaica and Canada. Another ball will be chosen from a second pot to determine in which group that team will be placed.
    The other pots will be divided similarly, first with the Central American teams drawn randomly and then a second ball to place them in a group, and then the Caribbean teams.

    The draw follows Curacao becoming the final team to secure the 12th and final berth eight days ago, prevailing in a coin flip with Antigua and Barbuda to reach the CONCACAF U-20 finals for the first time since 1964.

    Curacao finished third in Group A at the Caribbean finals with three points, same as Antigua in Group B. Both teams scored three goals, allowed four in three games, necessitating the tiebreaker.

    Haiti finished atop Group A, going undefeated in six games through Caribbean qualifying with four victories and outscoring its opponents 10-2.

    Jamaica won Group B on goal difference over Cuba, winning two of three matches and not allowing a goal.
    Cuba had a longer path to the CONCACAF finals, but like Haiti, won four of six, drew twice and outscored its opponents 14-2.

    Puerto Rico advanced as the second-place team from Group A at the Caribbean finals, securing the berth with a 1-1 draw against Haiti in its final game to edge Curacao for the spot by a single point.

    The Central American sides earned their places in two separate qualifying groups, with two teams advancing from each.

    Despite Honduras hosting Group A, Costa Rica qualified for a fifth straight time and 17th overall by beating Nicaragua and tying Honduras to win the group, while the Nicaraguans upset Honduras 1-0 to claim the second berth - its first trip to the CONCACAF finals.

    In Group B, again the home-field advantage was of little use, with El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala all winning one game and losing the other. But El Salvador and Panama qualified based on goals scored, leaving Guatemala home.

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