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South American World Cup qualifiers to start in March 2020

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By Andrew Downie

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – South America’s World Cup qualifiers will begin in March 2020, later than envisaged due to the date of Qatar 2022 tournament, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Thursday. 

Eight games will take place over four double-header dates in March, September, October and November 2020, and the remaining 10 matches will be played in 2021.

The South American qualifiers are played in a round-robin format with the top teams qualifying after 18 rounds of home and away fixtures.

In recent years the qualifiers started in October, almost three years prior to the finals and ended in the November before the World Cup began.

Organisers, however, decided to start this qualifying competition later because the 2022 tournament will be played in November and December to avoid the heat of the Arab summer.

CONMEBOL also scheduled the final South American Super Cup between River Plate and Athletico Paranaense for May 2019.

Libertadores champions River Plate will play the first leg in Curitiba against Copa Sudamericana holders Athletico Paranaense on May 22 before the return match in Buenos Aires on May 29.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis)

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