CONCACAF announces new format for 2021 Gold Cup
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CONCACAF unveiled a new format for the 2021 Gold Cup on Wednesday and announced that Asian Cup champions Qatar will compete as the invited guest at next summer's tournament.

Along with introducing a preliminary round, the tournament's first-ever draw will be held on Sept. 28 to determine the groups, the governing body said in a statement.

"A new format which provides more excitement for fans allows us to build on a very successful 2019 edition, which included competitive football and great stories," said CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani.

"I also believe that having a draw for this competition is a long time coming and fits with our objective to be a truly football-first organization," he added. "It will provide great anticipation for fans as they look forward to the return of international football in our region."

Additionally, the 2021 Gold Cup will feature the return of an invited guest, as 2022 World Cup host Qatar will be the first nation from outside North America to compete in the tournament since 2005.

Unlike past editions of the tournament, the United States and Mexico could meet before the final, as the nations won't be automatically separated in 2021.

Instead, teams on opposite sides of the bracket can clash in the quarterfinals and beyond. CONCACAF hopes the move will provide more "unpredictability and excitement."

Meanwhile, the introduction of a preliminary round will result in 12 teams competing on July 2-6 to qualify for the final three spots in the 16-team competition.

The 12 squads include the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The preliminary draw will be held on the same date as the group-stage draw later this month.

Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, and the United States qualified for the tournament, which kicks off on July 10, 2021, based on those nations' performances in the Nations League.

Mexico is the reigning Gold Cup champion, and the tournament's most successful team with eight titles. Outside of the United States (six titles), Canada - the winner in 2000 - is the only other country to win the competition.

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CONCACAF announces new format for 2021 Gold Cup
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