Costa Rica Faces Setback in Concacaf Nations League Placement

Concacaf announces changes to Nations League format, requiring Costa Rica to compete in group stage instead of quarterfinals, impacting their 2025 Gold Cup qualification chances.

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Costa Rica Faces Setback in Concacaf Nations League  Placement

Costa Rica Faces Setback in Concacaf Nations League Placement

Concacaf has announced that Costa Rica's national team will have to compete in the group stage of the upcoming 2024-25 Concacaf Nations League instead of being directly placed in the quarterfinals. The decision comes as a blow to Costa Rica, who currently ranks sixth in the region behind Mexico, the United States, Panama, Canada, and Jamaica.

The fourth edition of the Concacaf Nations League will feature the participation of all 41 national teams in the region. The competition will continue to be played in a three-league format (A, B, and C), with teams distributed based on the results of the previous edition. The official draw to determine the groups for the three leagues will take place on May 6, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

Under the new format, the 12 lowest-ranked League A national teams (based on the Concacaf rankings as of March 31, 2024) will be split into two groups of six teams each and play in a 'Swiss style' league system, with each team playing a total of four games. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarterfinals, where they will join the four top-ranked League A teams: Mexico, United States, Panama, and Canada.

Why this matters: The change in format means that Costa Rica will have to navigate a more challenging path to reach the latter stages of the Concacaf Nations League. The increased competition in the group stage could impact Costa Rica's chances of qualifying for the 2025 Gold Cup, as the Nations League serves as a qualifier for that tournament.

The group stage matches will be played during the FIFA international breaks in September, October, and November 2024, with the finals scheduled for March 2025. Jamaica will join Costa Rica in Pot 1 of League A for the draw. The quarterfinals in November will be played in a home-and-away format, with the aggregate score winner in each matchup advancing to the Concacaf Nations League finals.

Concacaf stated that the changes to the format, which include a centralized group stage for Leagues B and C and a promotion and relegation system between the leagues, aim to "enhance the Concacaf Nations League and provide more competitive matches for all participating nations."

Key Takeaways

  • Costa Rica must compete in Nations League group stage, not quarterfinals.
  • Nations League features 41 teams in 3 leagues, with promotion/relegation.
  • 12 lowest-ranked League A teams split into 2 groups, top 2 advance.
  • Nations League qualifies teams for 2025 Gold Cup.
  • Format changes aim to enhance competition for all participating nations.