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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 26, 2024: In a highly anticipated draw held at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Concacaf has unveiled the groups for the second round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Jamaica, currently ranked as the number one team in the Caribbean Football Union, will take center stage in Group E.

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FLASHBACK: Damion Lowe (L) and Dexter Lembikisa (C) of Jamaica fight for the ball with Orbelin Pineda (R) of Mexico during the match between Mexico and Jamaica as part of the CONCACAF Nations League at Azteca on March 26, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Jamaica will face formidable opponents in Group E, including Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Dominica, and the winner of the first-round clash between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, set to unfold in March 2024.

The Reggae Boyz, under the guidance of Brazilian coach René Simões, have set their sights on a return to the World Cup stage. Their last appearance was in 1998 when they achieved a commendable third-place finish in the first-round group, competing against the likes of Argentina and Croatia.

With a talent pool that includes players from the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, and the United Soccer League in the United States, the Jamaican team aims to end their World Cup qualification drought.

In other groupings, Trinidad & Tobago, the only other English-speaking CFU team to have participated in the World Cup, will feature in Group B alongside Costa Rica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, and the Bahamas.

The qualification journey continues for teams in Group A, featuring Honduras, Antigua & Barbuda, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and Cuba. Meanwhile, Group C will showcase CFU No. 2 Haiti, Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, and St Lucia.

Guyana, which recently secured promotion to the top tier of the Concacaf Nations League, joins Group D, where they will compete against Panama, Belize, Montserrat, and Nicaragua. Group F brings together El Salvador, Puerto Rico, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and the victor of the first-round match-up between Turks & Caicos Islands and Anguilla.

It’s important to note that Canada, Mexico, and the United States, as joint hosts of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, have automatic qualification, exempting them from the Concacaf qualifiers. The remaining 30 teams within the confederation will fiercely contend in the second round of qualifiers.

The initial round of World Cup qualification for Concacaf teams is scheduled for March of this year, involving the four lowest-ranked teams: BVI, USVI, TCI, and Anguilla. In the second round, teams will engage in single round-robin matches, with six group winners and six group runners-up advancing to the 12-team third round of qualification.

The second round of qualifiers will take place over two match days in June of this year, followed by another two match days in June of the subsequent year, setting the stage for an intense battle for World Cup qualification in the region.

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