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The start of CONCACAF’s W Qualifiers, part of regional qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics, is being pushed back to February 2022 as coronavirus travel restrictions continue to bite.

Football’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean said on Friday the first round of the qualifiers, originally scheduled to kick off next month during the Fifa women’s match window, would now begin during the world governing body’s February 2022 window for international play.

“The scheduling change has been made by CONCACAF due to challenges associated with travel into and within certain countries in our region due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the body said in a statement.

“The Confederation believes this is in the best interests of the tournament, players and officials.”

The 30 teams that will be taking part in the W Qualifiers have already been decided and drawn into groups.

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After group stage play, where each nation will play two matches at home and two matches away, the top finisher in each of the groups will advance to the CONCACAF W Championship, joining the top two ranked nations in the region, the United States and Canada – who received byes straight to the W Championship which takes place in July 2022.

The inaugural W Championship the two-time reigning champion United States a revamped qualifying path to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the 2024 Paris Games – where Canada will be the defending champions after their triumph in Tokyo this year.

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