MIAMI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The number of World Cup qualifiers played by top-ranked teams in the North, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation (CONCACAF) will be slashed by almost half, under plans announced on Wednesday.
The earlier stages of a campaign that led to a six-nation home-and-away round-robin tournament - known as the hexagonal - has been scrapped, the sport's regional governing body CONCACAF said in a statement.
The six highest-ranked teams in the region will instead qualify automatically for the hexagonal, beginning next September. The top three place-getters will then automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Mexico are currently the top-ranked CONCACAF team by FIFA (No. 18) followed by the United States (30), Costa Rica (39), Jamaica (54), Honduras (61) and El Salvador (69).
In parallel, a separate tournament for lower-ranked CONCACAF teams will be held, the winner of which will play the hexagonal's fourth-ranked side in a home-and-away playoff for the right to meet a team from another region in a playoff for a World Cup spot.
The move means the number of qualifiers played by CONCACAF's highest-ranked teams will be reduced to 10 from as many as 18 previously.