2014 FIFA WC qualification draw set.The 2014 World Cup has officially kicked off, with the United States being drawn with Jamaica in qualifying for the North, Central America and Caribbean region for the tournament in Brazil in three years’ time.
The other two teams in Group A will come from preliminary qualifying matches that include Haiti, Guatemala, the U.S. Virgin Islands and five other nations.
Mexico is in Group B with Costa Rica, while Cuba and Honduras are in Group C. All three group winners and runners-up will advance to a final qualifying round, beginning February 2013.
African and Asian countries also found out their opponents in Saturday’s qualifying draw in Rio de Janeiro, the first major World Cup event in Brazil since the South American nation was awarded the competition in 2007.
In Asia, Japan will face Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea in Group C, while Australia will play Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand in Group D.
Iran, Bahrain and Qatar were drawn in the same Group E, along with Indonesia, while China is in Group A with Iraq, Jordan and Singapore.
The African teams were divided into 10 groups for qualifiers beginning in November. South Africa, last year’s World Cup host, was drawn in Group A along with Botswana. Ghana, the best African team last year, is in Group D with Zambia and Sudan.
As host, Brazil is the only nation that doesn’t have to qualify. But 166 other teams are having their fate decided in the draw.
South America was not included in the draw because the continent’s nine teams will be placed in a single group. They will play each other twice, home and away, with the top four finishers securing a World Cup spot. The fifth-place team will advance to an intercontinental playoff against a team from Asia. The other playoff will pit teams from CONCACAF and Oceania.
The qualifiers began June 15 and will end Nov. 19, 2013, after 824 matches. Twenty-eight teams were eliminated in preliminary rounds before Saturday’s draw.
The World Cup will be played from June 12 to July 13, and the complete match schedule will be announced in October.
“We love football,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said at the draw. “Today, Brazil is admired for more than just football, music and its popular festivities. I invite you to come visit us. You will find a country very well prepared for the World Cup.”