The increase in quotas for South America in the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada forces the South American Football Confederation to seek a change in the format of the eliminatory. Six Conmebol teams will have a direct quota for the World Cup and one more could enter through the playoffs.
Thus things are, the all-against-all system, which has been applied since the qualifying round for the World Cup in France-98, seems too long for the number of places that are going to be delivered, which is why There is already an idea underway to change it.
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This is how the next tie would be played
The approach is that the teams are divided into two groups of five, with the novelty that they would not play against each other, but only against the five rivals from the other zone. In other words, in this first part of the tie, all the teams would play 10 games, eight fewer than with the current format.
The first two of each group would have a direct quota to the World Cup,although later they would play a symbolic playoff: semifinals and final, in round-trip matches.
Where there would be an important novelty is in the teams that finish third and fourth in each zone. They would play the third of A against the fourth of B and the third of B against the fourth of A, in round-trip matches. The winners qualify for the World Cup and the losers will have another duel to play for the playoff spot. The bottom of each group would be eliminated.
Is the format change convenient for Colombia?
How does this elimination system affect the Colombian National Team? It should be remembered that the team was eliminated from the 2022 Qatar World Cup, finishing in sixth place in the tie, and that result cost coach Reinaldo Rueda his job.
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Now, the National Team begins a new stage with the Argentine Néstor Lorenzo at the head of the project, and the goal is to return to the World Cup, at a time of change in the payroll.
“The substitution is frustrated when there are no results, there is a lack of confidence, you have to work hard to generate it, with humility the boys will go with many games, that substitution is made by the strength of the group, but we have players with a lot of experience . My philosophy is to respect the essence of Colombian football, not to feel less than anyone, but with a little more intensity,' said Lorenzo at his official presentation.
There is an obvious factor that favors Colombia: there are two more places at stake. Colombia never finished lower than seventh in the round-robin qualifiers. The worst position is seventh on the road to South Africa 2010. This suggests that this may be enough to fight for a place.
However, there is a key factor that forces the National Team to quickly find good performance: the margin of error is smaller if you take into account that there will be eight fewer games, for which any lost point can complicate the aspirations.
Furthermore, the goal should be to target the first two spots in the group to avoid any type of shock and not end up fighting a spot in the playoffs. Also, get the most points to climb positions in the Fifa world ranking, which will be taken into account for the World Cup group draw.
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The 2026 World Cup will have 48 teams, which will be divided into 16 groups of 3. The first two in each zone will advance to the round of 32 and from then on there will be keys to direct removal. But to get there, Colombia will have to play a tie that will not be as long, but in which the demand remains.
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