Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz are now aware that they will face Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Dominica in Group E in second round action of the 2026 Concacaf World Cup qualification.

Their other opponent will come from the first round playoff tie between British Virgin Islands or US Virgin Islands. It was revealed during Thursday's draw which took place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland.

With hosts Mexico, United States and Canada, all earning automatic qualification, the qualifiers will be contested among the other 32 FIFA affiliated Concacaf member associations. The second round of qualifiers will see the two first round winners, joining the confederation's remaining 28 participating member associations.

The first round of qualifying will take place in March 2024 between the four lowest-ranked Concacaf Member Associations based on the FIFA Men’s Rankings as of December 2023. These two-legged matchups will see British Virgins Islands opposing US Virgin Islands in Playoff one, while Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla will lock horns in Playoff two.

From there, the second round of qualifiers will see the two first round winners, join the confederation's remaining 28 participating member associations to make 30 teams divided into six groups of five teams.

Following single round-robin matches (two home and two away) in the second round, the six group winners and runners-up will progress to the final round (12 teams total).

The Second Round will be played over the course of two matchdays in June 2024 and then another two matchdays in June 2025.

Second Round Grouping

Group A: Honduras, Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands

Group B: Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Bahamas

Group C: Haiti, Curaçao, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Aruba

Group D: Panama, Nicaragua, Guyana, Montserrat, Belize

Group E: Jamaica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Winner Playoff 2 (British Virgin Islands-US Virgin Islands)

Group F: El Salvador, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Winner Playoff 1 (Turks and Caicos Islands-Anguilla)

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Luis Diaz scored twice as Colombia stunned Brazil 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier, days after his father was released by kidnappers.

The Liverpool striker netted twice in four minutes late in the second half, watched by his father Luiz Manuel Diaz who was held for 12 days before his release last week.

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli had put Brazil in front after just four minutes.

Colombia’s first win over Brazil for eight years lifts them into third in the South American qualifying table with Brazil, who suffered a second successive defeat in the competition, down to fifth.

On a night of surprises, goals from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez saw Uruguay beat Argentina 2-0.

Lionel Messi struggled to impose himself, hitting the crossbar in the second half as Argentina’s 100% record since lifting the World Cup was ended.

Uruguay’s win lifts them to second in the table, two points behind Argentina.

Venezuela are in fourth after a goalless draw with Ecuador, Chile and Paraguay also drawing a blank while Bolivia won the battle of the bottom two with a 2-0 win over Peru.

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Jamaica’s wait to qualify for a FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup has been prolonged, as the young Reggae Girlz suffered a second-consecutive 0-4 defeat, this time at the hands of United States, at the Concacaf Under-20 Championships in Dominican Republic on Sunday.

A hat-trick from Madeline Dahlien (10th, 47th and 79th) and one from Tessa Dellarose (49th) saw the reigning seven-time champions to victory which secured them a semi-final berth along with Canada, who earlier registered a 5-0 win over Panama.

Both United States and Canada, are on six points each and will decide Group A winners in a top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday, while the Jamaicans and Panamanians are to meet in a contest of academic interest on the same day.

While it was a much-improved showing from the young Reggae Girlz in part, when compared to their 0-4 opening loss to Canada, they simply lacked the pedigree of their United States counterparts.

The Hugh Bradford-coached Girlz showed more heart defensively and did manage to show some semblance of individual flair when in possession, but again offered very little on the attacking front.

It took only 10 minutes for US to break the deadlock when Dahlien breached the backline and fired past Liya Brooks.

They continued to apply consistent pressure and found a few more openings but faulty shooting proved their undoing as they failed to hit the target.

That coupled with the fact that the young Reggae Girlz were more organized at the back, resulted in the score remaining 1-0 at the break.

However, the Girlz first half accomplishments quickly went out like a candle in the wind, as the US attackers went straight to work on the resumption. A weighted cross from Onyeka Gamero was expertly met by Dahlien beating Brooks to her left, two minutes in.

And before the Girlz could regroup, they found themselves further behind when Dellarose’s delightful left-footed strike from about 20-yards out, gave Brooks no chance at a save.

Brooks was better positioned to deny substitute Jill Flammia’s effort from just outside the 18-yard box in the 54th minute, as she got down well to her right to parry onto the upright.

But Dahlien eventually secured her third and a fourth for the US with another easy finish beyond Brooks.

US, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico are set to contest the semi-finals.

The two finalists and third-place team will qualify for next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Despite facing an uphill task, Jamaica’s Head coach Hugh Bradford is optimistic that his young Reggae Girlz will produce an improved performance against reigning seven-time champions United States in their second Group A contest at the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship in Dominican Republic on Sunday.

The encounter to take place at the Felix Sanchez Stadium in Santo Domingo, is scheduled for 5:00 pm Jamaica time, after the Canada versus Panama curtain-raiser at 2:00 pm.

After going down 0-4 to Canada in Friday’s opener, the young Reggae Girlz are now caught in a must-win situation in order to keep hopes of securing an historic FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup berth alive and Bradford is backing his charges to put their best foot forward on this occasion.

United States, who hammered Panama 6-0 in their opening contest, currently head the standings on three points, same as Canada, but with a better goal difference.

“Yes, it is a difficult task but we are going to try and play our game and not worry about what the opponents will do. I know we have a lot of potential in our team and so I expect the players to go out and give off their best,” Bradford said.

Reflecting on the team’s performance against Canada, the US-based coach pointed out that the players failed to execute as instructed and, as such, were outclassed in all departments and beaten by goals from Anabelle Chukwu (39th and 45th), Olivia Smith (56th) and substitute Renee Watson (90+4).

“I thought we could have been better, but we weren’t entirely bad. We used a lot of energy on the defensive side, didn’t press the ball enough and so we were unable to get anything out of the game,” Bradford reasoned.

“But we have to just leave that game behind us and focus on the next game. We know our performance needed to be better as a team and like I said, I expect the ladies to show some improvements here. Everybody is fine, we had our team meeting and discussed what changes needs to take place as we look ahead,” he added.

Should the Girlz pull off an unlikely upset, it would put them in a good position to secure on of two spots from the group to the knockout stage, as they are set to close against Panama on May 30, while the United States and Canada will have each other to contend with.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica and Mexico, have all but secured the two positions from Group B, with two wins each.

The two finalists and third-place team will represent the confederation at next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Following Wednesday night's washout of the Group A matches in the final round of the Concacaf Women U20 Championships qualifiers, Jamaica will now play their opening match against Canada on May 26.

They will then play the USA on May 28 with their final group match against Panama set for May 30.

Adverse weather conditions resulted in water-logged fields in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night causing the games to be postponed.

 

The other Group A fixture between the United States and Panama was also called off.

 

The Jamaica Football Federation has named a 20-player squad that will represent the country at the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U20 championship in the Dominican Republic from May 22 to June 3. The players are scheduled to depart for the championship on Saturday, May 20.

Jamaica will play in a tough Group A that also comprises the United States, Canada and Panama. Group B is made up of Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic.

After round-robin play, the two best teams from each group will advance to a knockout stage. All knockout stage matches with the two finalists and the third-place match winner qualifying for next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The matches will be played across two venues - the Estadio Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo and the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal.

The United States is the current champion (seventh title overall) of the CWU20 after defeating Mexico 2-0 in the 2022 Final.

The Jamaica squad is as follows: Andrene Smith, Shaneil Buckley, Una Moy Lue, Davia  Richards, Liha Williams, Taijah Fraser, Tiny Seaton, Kaitlyn Ennis, Natoya Atkinson, Destiny Powell, Akeila Johnson, Janiel Mignott, Amelia Zanten, Liya Brooks, Avery Johnson, Maya Raghunandanan, Anaiyah Robinson, Njeri  Butts, NjerI Lewis, Katie Oakley.

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FIFA has agreed to cancel the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina.

The fixture in September was stopped shortly after kick-off when Brazilian health officials entered the field claiming four Argentina players had broken COVID-19 protocols.

FIFA was pushing for the clash to be rescheduled for next month, despite the fact the game was essentially meaningless with both teams having already qualified for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The confederations of Brazil and Argentina both opposed FIFA's demand, with the case taken to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) where all three parties agreed to the deal.

Brazil's Tite and Argentina's Lionel Scaloni argued the risk of injuries and suspensions were too high for the game to be played, which would have occurred just two months before the World Cup is scheduled to begin.

With the agreement, both South American teams are free to schedule friendlies against opponents of their choosing for their World Cup preparations – where they will be looking to end Europe's dominance on the world stage.

Brazil have not won the tournament since 2002 and were humiliated by Germany in the semi-finals when hosting the tournament in 2014, where Argentina were subsequently beaten in the final.

Argentina are alongside Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia in Group C, while Brazil are in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

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Chile's appeal to have Ecuador disqualified from the World Cup in Qatar has been rejected by FIFA.

The appeal was made on the basis of Ecuador selecting an ineligible player during their qualifying campaign.

Football's world governing body opened disciplinary proceedings last month following allegations that right-back Byron Castillo is Colombian and not eligible to represent Ecuador.

Castillo made eight appearances for Ecuador in their South American qualifying campaign.

Chile, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, lodged a complaint, but FIFA confirmed on Friday that Ecuador will keep their place at the World Cup, which starts in November.

A statement on FIFA's website read: "The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has rendered its decision in relation to the potential ineligibility of the player Byron David Castillo Segura with regard to his participation in eight qualifying matches of the national team of the Ecuadorian Football Association (FEF) in the preliminary competition of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

"After analysing the submissions of all parties concerned and considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to close the proceedings initiated against the FEF.

"The Disciplinary Committee's findings were notified today to the parties concerned. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the parties have 10 days in which to request a motivated decision, which, if requested, would subsequently be published on legal.fifa.com. The present decision remains subject to an appeal before the FIFA Appeal Committee."

La Roja, who finished seventh to miss out on a play-off spot, would have taken Ecuador's place had FIFA disqualified them. 

Ecuador will face hosts Qatar, Netherlands and Senegal in Group A.

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Gareth Bale says his future in football is not dependent on the result of Wales' World Cup play-off final against Ukraine on Sunday.

Bale, who was the world's most expensive player when he joined Real Madrid from Tottenham in 2013, has confirmed he will leave the European champions when his contract expires at the end of this month.

The 32-year-old has been linked with a return to Spurs, where he spent the 2020-21 campaign on loan, as well as hometown club Cardiff City, while it has also been suggested he could retire if Wales fail to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Bale, though, insisted the result of Sunday's clash at the Cardiff City Stadium will have no bearing on his decision over what to do next season.

Asked if his future hinges on the vital clash, Bale said: "Not necessarily, no. Like I've said before, I'm not concentrating on what lies ahead in the future.

"We have a massive game that all my focus is on. I really don't need to think or worry about anything else. I have no other worries."

Asked if he has offers on the table for next term already, Bale responded: "I've got loads!"

Restricted to just seven appearances in all competitions for Madrid this season, Bale also missed Wales' Nations League clash against Poland on Wednesday.

However, the talismanic forward, who carried out Saturday's media conference at Wales' training ground rather than at the stadium, said he is fit and ready for the match against Ukraine.

"After training I have my routines," he explained "When we have the press conference at the Vale, it's convenient. I can do my stuff and get ready for the game.

"Having to take two hours out of my day to get to the stadium didn't quite work. So we did it this way. Apologies but unfortunately the game comes first!"

Bale also said he would not apologise to Ukraine should Wales edge past them to qualify for their first World Cup since 1958.

Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced and thousands left defending their homeland after Russia invaded the country in March.

Asked if he would apologise, Bale said: "As horrible as it sounds, no. As it is a game of football and it is a competition that we want to get to as well.

"Everyone in the world feels for Ukraine. It is sport that unites everybody. We understand what it will do for Ukraine, but we want to get to the World Cup.

"That is not coming from a horrible place. It is coming from our country and hearts as we want to deliver for our own fans."

For Wales, the wait is nearly over.

After a delay of more than two months owing to the horrific events that have unfolded in Ukraine, Wales finally get a shot at ending their long wait for a place at the World Cup.

With their opponents now known following Ukraine's impressive victory against Scotland in midweek, the Dragons' date with destiny finally arrives in Cardiff this Sunday.

And after a wait of some six-and-a-half decades since last appearing at the biggest football tournament of them all, the excitement could not be any higher.

If Wales are to jump the final hurdle and make it to Qatar 2022, though, they must do something no side has achieved since Croatia in October 2017 – beat Ukraine in a qualifier.

Ukraine have proved their resolve in more ways than one and now, spurred on by most of the world, Oleksandr Petrakov's battlers are potentially 90 minutes from the World Cup.

Stats Perform looks at how both sides shape up ahead of the showdown at Cardiff City Stadium.


QUALIFYING RECORDS

While Wales have enjoyed runs to the semi-finals and last 16 of the past two European Championships, not since 1958 have they competed on the grandest stage of them all.

Should they reach Qatar 2022, that gap of 64 years would surpass the record jointly held by Egypt and Norway of 56 years between tournament participations.

To put into context just how long ago Wales' only previous World Cup outing was, Brazil great Pele scored the only goal against them in that year's quarter-final.

At 17 years and 239 days, he still holds the record of being the tournament's youngest-ever goalscorer.

 

Ukraine have themselves competed at the World Cup just once, albeit having only had six previous attempts at qualifying as an independent nation.

The Eastern European country reached the quarter-finals in Germany 16 years ago, where they were beaten 3-0 by eventual winners Italy.

Like opponents Wales, they have twice qualified for the European Championship, as well as being given direct entry to the tournament as joint-hosts with Poland in 2012.

 

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The two teams' pedigree is pretty similar, then, as is their record against one another down the years.

Only three times have they previously met, with two of those finishing all square in World Cup 2002 qualifying, and Ukraine winning the other 1-0 in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly.

Incidentally, current Wales boss Rob Page played the full 90 minutes in Ukraine's only previous outing on Welsh soil, with that contest ending in a 1-1 draw 20 years ago.

 

PLAY-OFF PEDRIGREE

Wales' record when it comes down to crunch fixtures down the years has been pretty impressive, having won all three of their previous World Cup qualifying play-off games.

The Dragons beat Israel over both legs in qualifying for the 1958 edition and saw off Austria 2-1 in March to set up their clash with Ukraine, who beat Scotland in the other semi.

History is not exactly on Ukraine's side in that regard, though, as they have failed to reach the tournament in each of their previous four play-offs – in 1997, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

 

If it is to be fourth time lucky, the Blue and Yellow will have to breach Wales' Cardiff City Stadium fortress, where Page's side are unbeaten in 17 matches since November 2018.

But Ukraine certainly know how to grind out results on their travels, having won each of their past three away competitive matches, including that 3-1 win in Glasgow this week.

In fact, Petrakov's side have gone unbeaten home and away throughout Qatar qualifying, as was the case en route to reaching Euro 2020.

That run of 18 games without losing in qualifying is a record only Belgium can match among European nations.

 

KEY MEN

When it comes down to the individual battles, at full strength there is very little between two nations separated by just nine places in the latest FIFA rankings.

For Wales, Bale undoubtedly remains the focal point of the side in what could reportedly be his final ever game in professional football should his side taste defeat.

The free agent has only played six games in qualifying, totalling 488 minutes, yet only five European players have been involved in more than his eight goals.

With those five goals and three assists, Bale is averaging a goal or assist every 61 minutes for his country on the road to Qatar.

 

There is not one standout star in the Ukrainian ranks, as such, but plenty of focus will be on Roman Yaremchuk, who was on the scoresheet at Hampden Park.

The Benfica attacker is Ukraine's top scorer this qualifying campaign with four goals, the past three of those coming in away matches.

This run to the qualifying play-off final has very much been built on unity, though, which will again be on show in the Welsh capital on Sunday.

Yet whether it is the chance to put history right, make a nation of people proud or anything in between, the end goal for Wales and Ukraine is ultimately the same.

Ukraine claimed an emotional win on their return to competitive football as they moved to within one victory of the Qatar World Cup by beating Scotland 3-1.

The World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final was delayed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine earlier in 2022, but Oleksandr Petrakov's side were deserved victors at Hampden Park despite Georgi Bushchan's blunder setting up a grandstand finish.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke said he was "desperate" to reach the World Cup despite Ukraine's hardship, yet his team could not match the intensity shown by the visitors until late in the match, after Bushchan had fumbled Callum McGregor's shot over the line.

But Ukraine held onto their lead – given to them either side of half-time by Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk – with Artem Dovbyk adding a third in stoppage time, and now only Wales stand in their way of a place in Qatar.

Craig Gordon twice came to Scotland's rescue early on, first tipping over Viktor Tsygankov's strike before smothering Yarmolenko's close-range effort, but Ukraine made a deserved breakthrough in the 33rd minute 

Having beat Scotland's offside trap, Yarmolenko controlled Ruslan Malinovskiy's lofted pass brilliantly before lofting a neat finish over the onrushing Gordon.

It was 2-0 four minutes after the restart – Yaremchuk heading home from Oleksandr Karavaev's right-wing cross after Scotland failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.

Ukraine almost gifted Scotland a way back into proceedings by overplaying at the back, with Bushchan's clearance slicing wide off McGregor.

John McGinn headed wide to let Bushchan off the hook for another error, but Ukraine's goalkeeper was punished when he failed to catch McGregor's poor shot.

Despite Scotland's pressure, Ukraine finished things off in injury time - Dovbyk, who had missed two glorious chances, making it third time lucky to ensure victory.

Graeme Souness believes FIFA should allow Ukraine to qualify automatically for this year's World Cup in Qatar, to send a message to the Russian government.

Souness' beloved Scotland hosted Ukraine on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying play-off that was delayed from March following Russia's invasion of the country.

The attack was universally condemned but the fighting has continued since, with millions of Ukrainians displaced and thousands left defending their homeland.

While the winner of Wednesday's encounter in Glasgow will face Wales on Sunday to determine the final European team to reach Qatar, Souness passionately believes that regardless of the outcome, FIFA should ensure Ukraine feature in the tournament.

"It's the strangest emotion I think I've ever had about a football match. I'm Scottish, was captain of the team, every single game we play in I want us to win desperately," Souness said on Sky Sports before the match at Hampden Park.

"Every single game our rugby team plays in I want us to win desperately. I really have mixed emotions about tonight. What's happening in Ukraine right now, it transcends football.

"It's about life and death, we're witnessing pictures I've never seen in my life before, it's only four hours flying time from where we're standing, not the other side of the world, that could visit us one day.

"So we have to stand up and support Ukraine, we have to get right behind them as much as we possibly can. Football has such a big part to play in so many people's lives today.

"For me, what FIFA should do, FIFA should say it doesn’t matter what happens [in the play-offs], this team should be going to the World Cup.

"Make a group of five somewhere. Ukraine should be going to the World Cup. Simply keep the name of Ukraine at the forefront of everybody's mind."

Souness insists that allowing Ukraine to compete in Qatar will help prove to the leaders of Russia – who UEFA and FIFA both banned from their competitions – that they are truly alone in the world because of their invasion.

"We will get immune to the pictures we see, because it's on a daily basis," he continued. "Regularly, we're seeing horror stories that I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.

"We have to make sure that the people in the Kremlin understand that the world does not accept what they're doing, and football has a part to play because the profile football has.

"This team should be going to the World Cup to keep the name of Ukraine right at the front of everyone's head so that the people in Russia realise that they're standing alone and are in the wrong, they have to accept that."

Whoever progresses from the play-off path has been drawn with England, Iran and the United States.

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FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Ecuador over the potential use of an ineligible player in their successful World Cup qualifying campaign.

Chile last week asked the world football governing body to investigate allegations that right-back Byron Castillo is actually Colombian and not eligible to represent Ecuador.

Castillo played eight times for Ecuador in South American qualifying, including a goalless draw with Chile in September and a 2-0 victory in November.

La Roja finished seventh, meaning they just missed out on a play-off spot, but believe Ecuador should be expelled from the quadrennial competition.

And FIFA confirmed on Wednesday that it is looking into the recent complaint made by the Federacion de Futbol de Chile.

The statement read: "FIFA has decided to open disciplinary proceedings in relation to Byron David Castillo Segura's possible breach of the call criteria for the indicated matches. 

"In this context, the FEF and the Peruvian Football Federation have been invited to present their positions before the FIFA Disciplinary Committee."

Ecuador have already been drawn in Group A at the World Cup, alongside hosts Qatar, as well as Senegal and the Netherlands.

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