FIFA Wednesday established Canada’s pathway for the World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers. It begins with an opening round of four matches against Group B opponents Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname.

Thirty Concacaf nations will compete in this first round from which only the six group winners will advance to a second round of head-to-head knockout series.

The schedule and locations for these matches will be announced at a later date, with health and safety a priority before any international travel.

Canada Soccer will continue to closely monitor all COVID-19 developments in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada and relevant governing bodies through the Canada Soccer Sport Medicine Committee to ensure the safety of all players and staff.

“Canada Soccer continues to prioritize the safety for all of our players and staff throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli said in a statement. “With the gradual return of domestic football and our players back in action in leagues around the world, we are hopeful that we can soon have our players together again on the pitch for international football once it is safe to do so.”

The 2020 World Cup preliminary draw was broadcast live on FIFA.com.

For the first round, Canada’s four matches will be played across two FIFA international windows. In the first international window, Canada will face Bermuda on the Thursday and then Cayman Islands on Sunday three days later. In the second international window, Canada will face Aruba on the Saturday and then Suriname three days later on Tuesday.

“We want to ensure that our best players wear the red shirt and represent Canada because those players want to change the sport in our country by qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™,” Canada head coach John Herdman said in a statement. “There is a group of players that have been part of the battle these past two years, they’ve been developing together on and off the pitch and they will be the narrators of what could be an amazing story for soccer in this country.

“It is important that when competing in Concacaf, at a stage where every game has so much at stake, that we are always at our strongest. We know this a long campaign consisting of 20 matches to reach Qatar 2022 and there are various stages in this campaign for which we have to plan, but we will be taking it one game at a time with a laser-like focus on reaching the Concacaf Final Round.”

From the first round, the Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a second-round, head-to-head series, with the match dates and locations to be announced at a later date. The winner from that second round then advances to the Concacaf final round of eight nations in which each nation will play each opponent twice (once at home and once on the road).