By Brian Homewood(REUTERS)-FIFA has proposed merging the CONCACAF and South American qualifiers as part of its plans to expand the 2026 World Cup, a leading official from the region said in a newspaper interview.Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) president Laureano Gonzalez said the idea for the merger had come from FIFA president Gianni Infantino.Gonzalez, who is also a vice-president of CONMEBOL, the governing body for South America, said it would want at least 14 places at the finals for the two regions combined before accepting the proposal.CONCACAF represents North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.The FIFA Council is due to vote tomorrow whether to increase the number of teams at the finals from the current 32 to either 40 or 48 from 2026. FIFA will decide at a later date which regions will be awarded the additional slots.CONMEBOL currently has four-and-a-half places at the World Cup for its 10 members while CONCACAF, which has 35 FIFA members in its ranks, has three-and-a-half places.“There is a suggestion from Gianni Infantino to unify the CONMEBOL and CONCACAF qualifiers,” Gonzalez told the Venezuelan sports daily Meridiano.“This would have support if they gave us more places. At the moment, we have seven between the two confederations, plus two half places,” he said.“If this went up to 14, similar to what Europe has for more or less the same number of teams, the idea would catch on on the continent.”FIFA could not immediately be reached for comment. Europe currently has 13 places for 55 teams, plus one for 2018 World Cup hosts Russia.CONCACAF is also a leading contender to host the 2026 World Cup, possibly with a joint bid involving at least two out of the United States, Canada and Mexico.Gonzalez also said there was “a spirit” in the region in favour of holding a repeat of last year’s Copa Centenario in 2020, but with 24 teams instead of 16.The Copa Centenario, which celebrated the Copa America’s 100th anniversary, was a special tournament in addition to the regular Copa America.The Copa America is played every four years in the year following the World Cup and traditionally features 10 teams from CONMEBOL and two from CONCACAF.The Centenario, however, took place in the United States and featured six teams from CONCACAF plus the 10 from South America.CONCACAF also has its own biennial tournament, the Gold Cup, staged in odd-numbered years.Gonzalez said officials were in favour of another extra tournament in 2020, with a similar makeup to the Centenario but under a different name and with the format increased to 24 teams.“Obviously it wouldn’t be called Centenario,” said Gonzalez. “Our Copa America would continue to be played as usual.”Such a tournament may face opposition from European clubs, where many of the region’s top players are based.
Super Eagles Super Eagles now third-best team in AfricaNigeria’s good outings in the last AFCON 2019 qualifier against Seychelles and the international friendly with Egypt in Asaba have brought good fortunes to the Super Eagles in the April rankings released by FIFA Thursday.The three-time African champions who moved up four places to 42nd spot globally are rated the third best team in Africa. Nigeria accumulated 1435 points, eight more than Eagles previous tally.Eagles defeated Seychelles 3-1in a dead-rubber last game while also running away with 1-0 victory over the Pharaohs of Egypt. Now, the glory-seeking Eagles who will be hunting for a fourth AFCON title in Egypt this summer are trailing the Teranga Lions of Senegal who are the continent’s top team and Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles.Morocco and Congo Democratic Republic make up the top five teams in the continent in that order.In the global rankings, Belgium maintains her overall first position, world champions France comes in at number two, while Brazil, England and Croatia occupy the third, fourth and fifth position respectively. Uruguay is sixth while Portugal, Switzerland, Spain and Denmark make up the top ten of the global rankings.AFRICA’S TOP TEN1. Senegal2. Tunisia3. Nigeria4. Morocco5. Congo DR6. Ghana7. Cameroon8. Egypt9. Burkina Faso10. MaliShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram