Bahamas-Bermuda in March as 2018 World Cup qualifying starts

MIAMI (AP) Just eight months after the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, the Bahamas will play Bermuda in March in one of seven pairings as qualifying starts for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean held the first draw Thursday night. The other first-round pairings are Barbados-U.S. Virgin Islands; Belize-Cayman Islands; British Virgin Islands-Dominica; Curacao-Montserrat; Turks and Caicos Islands-St. Kitts and Nevis; and Nicaragua-Anguilla.

Seeking its first World Cup berth since 1986, Canada opens at home against the British Virgin Islands or Dominica in the second round from June 6-16, when Cuba faces Curacao or Montserrat, Guatemala plays Bahamas or Bermuda, Puerto Rico meets Grenada and El Salvador plays the Turks and Caicos-Islands-St. Kitts and Nevis winner.

Jamaica and Haiti have byes until the third round from Aug. 21-Sept. 8, and the United States joins for the start of the semifinals in November along with Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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