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Asian qualifying format for 2026 World Cup announced

Asian qualifying format for 2026 World Cup announced

FOOTBALL: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee has approved the qualification format for the continent’s road to the 2026 World Cup to accommodate the eight direct spots and a single intercontinental play-off slot allocated to the AFC by FIFA following the expansion of the finals to 48 teams.

FootballWorld-Cup
By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 2 August 2022, 03:30PM


The FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo: AFP

The FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo: AFP

The AFC earned 4.5 slots for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, reports the Bangkok Post.

The new qualification format has been established after several consultation and dialogue sessions with key stakeholders.

It was decided that the 2026 World Cup qualification tournament will comprise four rounds.

The first preliminary qualification round will involve teams ranked 26 to 47 (in the AFC rankings).

These 22 teams will face each other in a home-and-away format, with the 11 winners progressing to the second preliminary qualification round.

The second round will have 36 teams - teams ranked from one to 25 as well as the 11 winners from the first round - and will be divided into nine groups of four teams each, who will each compete in a round-robin, home-and-away format.

The top two teams from each group - 18 in total - will advance to the AFC Asian qualifiers.

The Asian qualifiers will have 18 teams and be divided into three groups of six teams each, competing in a round-robin, home-and-away format, with the top two teams from each group - six in total - qualifying directly to the 2026 World Cup.

The final round will consist of the third and fourth placed teams from all groups of the Asian qualifiers - six teams in total.

The six teams will be drawn into two groups of three teams each, competing in a single round-robin format.

The two first placed teams from the play-off groups will advance to the 2026 World Cup.

The second-placed teams from both groups will compete in a play-off match to determine the side that will represent the AFC in the intercontinental play-off.

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the US, Mexico and Canada.

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