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Caribbean teams poised for football WC qualifiers

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Miami, Jan 23 : Caribbean teams took their first steps on the road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia when they drew their opponents for the opening rounds of qualification here last week.

The first round, which kicks of March 23, will see the 14 lowest ranked teams in the region competing in two-legged ties, with the seven winners advancing to the second round to take on the 13 teams ranked ninth to 21st, reports CMC.

Return legs will be played eight days later.

For the first time, all qualifiers will be aligned with FIFA International Windows.

"Based on the last qualifiers where the region and the world saw some of the most exciting games to date, we expect this one to be even better," said CONCACAF president Jeff Webb who witnessed the draw attended by World Cup legend, Brazilian Ronaldo.

Three of the four CONCACAF sides – the US, Mexico and Costa Rica – qualified for the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil last year, with Costa Rica advancing to the quarterfinals.

Webb, also a FIFA vice-president, told members he expected the confederation to build on those results in Russia.

Overall, 35 teams will contest the qualifying campaign – 25 from the Caribbean, seven from Central American and three from North America.

CONCACAF is the continental governing body for football in North, Central America and the Caribbean.

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