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Having been to a WCQ in Belgium and looking at all the races still going on (on top of being asked how Canada is doing), I find the confederation's qualifying process absolutely abhorrent, institutionalizing inequities based on results from the previous cycle.

If it would continue to be this way for 2010, you'd have a couple of playoffs between the lower teams until they come to 12 and they would face the 12 teams from the semis round in a playoff to enter the semis. This year, Cuba had to face Costa Rica (only because of a Cuban loss to Canada in 2000) and Haiti had to play Jamaica in this round. Meanwhile, two small Carribean teams snuck in by beating Barbados and some other team. This would mean that we could have a Cuba-Mexico and a St-Kitts-Antigua for the same stakes if the same system were retained for WCQ2010! This is the same system that punished Canada by putting them in a group of death while Mexico and Trinidad had a red carpet to the Hex.

Currently, the big teams play 8 games before the Hex and potentially 10 if they make the Hex (plus 2 more for the playoff team). For a total of 18-20 games.

Since the confederation has uneven qualifying tournaments and games played for both WCQ and the GC, here is what I propose:

Take the top 12 teams according to their FIFA rankings. Some might say it's unfair, but it's a reasonable way to find the top 12 in CONCACAF. The drop between Haiti and St-Lucia is 91-117, rather significant.

Put them in a pot and have the other teams play-off against each other in similar seeded fashion until there are 12 left.

Have a playoff between the 24 teams and 12 will come out. (2 games)

Re-seed them into two groups of 6, with the top 4 from the last Hex (ergo those who went or came close to the WC) placed 1-4 and 2-3 and the rest in as per FIFA ranking. Have these teams play a Hex, which would provide a better general view of the better teams (the point of WCQ). (12 games in total for now)

Qualify the first of each group directly to the WC. Have the 2-3 teams in each group placed into a minigroup (which I prefer to a crossed playoff) and have them play each other. (12 or 18 games total)

Top of the group qualifies for the WC, 2nd goes to the playoff.

We'd thus have 12 games for the top 2 teams and bottom 6 of the last twelve (as opposed to the current 8 for the later) 18 games for the 3rd qualifier and 20 games for the playoff team. You probably wouldn't see any more US-Mexico WCQs under this system, though (although CR did finish top of the Hex in 2001).

This system means the better teams have a better chance of rising to the top and qualifying and keeps the drama going longer for more teams.

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I don't see why CONCACAF doesn't stretch out the qualifying as long as South America does. It's not like there's any fixture congestion getting in the way. This way they can get rid of those horrible wednesday qualifiers like the guatemala game. Although the current format heavily favours Trinidad so I can't see it being changed as long as Jack Warner is in charge.

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