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Explained: How does the AFC Qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup happen?

In the race for a spot in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) finds itself in an unprecedented situation, with more slots allocated than ever before. The excitement in the air is palpable as nations vie for the chance to showcase their football prowess on the global stage.

With the expansion of the tournament, the AFC has been granted a higher number of qualification spots, providing an opportunity for greater representation. The Asian Qualification commences on 12th October 2023 and stretches over two years till November 2025. The five-round long process ensures eight direct slots and one inter-confederation spot. Scroll below to read more about how the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualification (AFC) works. Also Read: Mason Mount tells his life story with beautifully carved tattoos over his body

The AFC Qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup

As we mentioned earlier, the process takes over five rounds. We will discuss and simplify each one of them to make it easier to understand.

First RoundThe bottom-ranked (27-46) twenty teams will play a home-and-away over two legs. The ten winners advances to the second round
Second RoundThe top 26 teams (1-26) and the ten teams from the first round are divided into nine groups of four. The teams will play each other on a home-and-away basis. The top two teams from each group advance to the third round. In addition, they also qualify for the AFC Asian Cup.
Third RoundThe 18 teams are now divided into three groups of six teams each. The teams will play each other on a home-and-away basis. The top two teams of every group automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The third and fourth-ranked team advance to the fourth round.
Fourth RoundThe six teams (3 third-placed and 3 fourth-placed in the third round) are divided into two groups of three each. The teams will play each other once in a neutral venue. The group winners join at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Fifth RoundThe group runners-up of the fourth round play each other in a home-and-away over two legs. They determine the Asian representation at the Inter-confederation playoffs

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Inter-Confederation Playoffs for AFC

The fifth-round winner will join one team each from OFC, CONMEBOL, and CAF, and two from CONCACAF. The teams will arrange according to their World Ranking. The four-lower ranked teams will play in a single-elimination round. The winner of the same will meet the two-higher ranked teams in another set of elimination rounds. Also Read: NBA G-League Players Salary: How much money does G-league players make in a season?

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Mohammed Bazim
Mohammed Bazim
Mohammed Bazim S is a final-year Journalism student with a deep passion for sports reporting. At the age of 19, he is already making strides towards his dream of becoming a paddock reporter and rinkside correspondent. With a particular love for ice hockey and Formula 1, Mohammed aspires to capture the excitement of these sports through immersive reporting. His enthusiasm, coupled with his dedication to honing his skills, sets him on a path towards bringing the thrilling world of sports to life for fans worldwide.

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