MIAMI: Asian Cup champions Qatar will compete in the 2021 Gold Cup, North American governing body CONCACAF announced Wednesday along with format tweaks for the 2021 edition of the football tournament.
There will be a preliminary round to decide the final three spots in the group stage, a first-ever Gold Cup draw on September 28 and quarter-finals matching teams from opposite groups in the 2021 event, which kicks off July 10.
World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar will join 12 North American teams that booked their spots in the group stage through the CONCACAF Nations League, including defending champion Mexico, the United States, Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Panama, Martinique and Suriname.
Three other group stage spots will go to qualifiers from a 12-team preliminary round knockout event from July 2-6, 2021, at a US venue.
Those teams are Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
Prior Gold Cups saw teams face sides from their own group until the final, but now they will cross groups to open the last eight knockout matches.
Qatar will also compete in the 2023 Gold Cup. The team also played in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil. "The CONCACAF Gold Cup continues to grow as a competition and we are hugely excited at the prospect of the 2021 edition," CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani said. "After such a challenging time for communities across the region and the world, we hope the return of international football, and the prospect of another great Gold Cup, can provide some hope and enjoyment for fans."