MIAMI – Concacaf Thursday announced that Inter Miami CF Stadium will host the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup preliminary round.

This will serve as the official start to the Gold Cup.

Concacaf’s flagship competition for the first time will include the prelims prior to the 16-team group stage. The 12 nations participating in the prelims qualified through their Concacaf Nations League performances and will compete for the final three spots in the group stage.

“We look forward with great anticipation to this summer’s Gold Cup, which will undoubtedly be enhanced by this new preliminary round,” Concacaf president Victor Montagliani said in a statement. “The past year has been very challenging in our region and our thoughts are with all the communities that have suffered. We hope the opportunity to watch the best men’s national teams in Concacaf compete in our flagship tournament can provide fans with some hope and enjoyment.”

“All 12 of the competing nations in the prelims will get a full Gold Cup experience at the excellent Inter Miami facilities and we look forward to a great set of games.”

Twelve nations will play from July 2-6 at Inter Miami CF Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a soccer-specific stadium inaugurated last year. The centralized venue, which includes an 18,000-capacity stadium sitting adjacent to a 50,000-square-foot training center with seven fields spanning across 34-acres, will allow for teams to play matches and train in one location.

For round One of the prelims, the teams were drawn into six matchups and will play as follows:

Round One – July 2 and 3

Matchup #1: Haiti vs St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Matchup #2: Guatemala vs Guyana
Matchup #3: Trinidad and Tobago vs Monserrat
Matchup #4: Cuba vs French Guiana
Matchup #5: Guadeloupe vs Bahamas
Matchup #6: Bermuda vs Barbados

The six Round One winners will qualify for the second round and will play as follows:

Round Two – July 6

Matchup #7: Winner Matchup #1 vs Winner Matchup #6
Matchup #8: Winner Matchup #2 vs Winner Matchup #5
Matchup #9: Winner Matchup #3 vs Winner Matchup #4

The winning nation in each of the three Round Two matchups will advance to the group stage of the Gold Cup, where they were drawn into Group A, B and C as follows:

Group A: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao, and Winner Prelims 9
Group B: USA, Canada, Martinique, and Winner Prelims 7
Group C: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname, and Winner Prelims 8
Group D: Honduras, Panama, Grenada, and Qatar.

Additional details regarding the prelims, including ticket sales information, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Concacaf in due course will provide information regarding the local and federal protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic which will need to be observed by attending fans. This will include a requirement to adhere to state health guidelines and any Concacaf or venue protocols and regulations.

The group stage will kick off on July 10 and run through Aug. 1 and will feature 16 national teams.

That includes Canada, Costa Rica, Curaçao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, eight-time and defending champion Mexico, Panama, Suriname and six-time champion United States.

Qatar has been invited to the tournament as the current champion and representative of the Asian Football Confederation. The remaining three countries will qualify through the prelims.