Draw assistant Madjer (left), presenter Dmitry Shepelev (middle) and Draw assistant Fabio Cannavaro (right) speak ahead of the CONCACAF portion of the Preliminary Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on July 25, 2015, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
PETERSBURG, Russia – The next two rounds of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup were mapped out on Saturday during the Preliminary Draw at Konstantin Palace.
Overseen by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, the proceedings produced some intriguing third-round pairings and potentially tricky fourth-round groups.
A pair of Caribbean standouts from the Gold Cup -- finalist Jamaica and quarterfinalist Haiti -- will make their competition debuts in the third round, joining the winners of the 10 second-round series. The teams were divided into two pots according to their FIFA ranking as of July 2015 and paired against each other. Matches will take place between August 31 and September 8.
Curacao v El Salvador
Grenada v Haiti
St. Vincent & the Grenadines v Aruba
Canada v Belize
Jamaica v Nicaragua
Antigua & Barbuda v Guatemala
The six winners advance to the fourth round, where Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States will be waiting to open their qualifying campaigns. Matches in the trio of four-team groups will take place from November 7, 2015 through September 6, 2016.
Curacao or El Salvador
Canada or Belize
Grenada or Haiti Jamaica or Nicaragua
Trinidad & Tobago
St. Vincent & the Grenadines or Aruba
Antigua & Barbuda or Guatemala
The top two teams in each group advance to the fifth and final round of qualification that is slated to take place from November 7, 2016 to October 10, 2017. The top three teams will have earned automatic places at Russia 2018, while the fourth-place side will enter into an Intercontinental Play-off against a representative from the Asian Football Confederation.