News Matches
World Cup

'Eight World Cup spots for Asia' - How can Asian teams qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup?

09:05 EAT 01/08/2022
FIFA World Cup, AFC Asian Cup GFX
AFC finalises road to FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027

The qualification format of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup 2027 has been finalised and approved by the executive committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Eight direct spots and a single Intercontinental playoffs slot have been allocated to the AFC by FIFA following the expansion of the FIFA World Cup 2026 to 48 teams from 32.

What is the new qualification format for the FIFA World Cup 2026 & AFC Asian Cup 2027?

Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1

22 teams, ranked 26 to 47 (among Asian teams), will be drawn to face off in a home and away format, where the 11 winners will progress to the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2.

Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2

36 teams – teams ranked from 1 to 25 (among Asian teams) as well as the 11 winners from the first round – will be divided into nine groups of four teams each, who will each compete in a round robin, home and away format, where the top two teams from each group – 18 in total – will advance to the AFC Asian Qualifiers.

AFC Asian Qualifiers (FIFA World Cup 2026)

Subsequently, the 18 teams, who also qualify automatically for the AFC Asian Cup 2027, will 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 FIFA World Cup 2026.

Asian Playoff (FIFA World Cup 2026)

The final round will consist of the third and fourth-placed teams from all groups of the AFC 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 top two teams from the Asian Playoff groups will advance to the FIFA World Cup 2026. The second-placed teams from both groups will compete in a playoff match to determine the side that will represent the AFC in the Intercontinental Playoff.

AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Playoff

The 10 losing teams from the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 will be drawn to compete in a home and away format, where the five winners will advance to the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Final Round.

AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Final Round

24 teams in total – one best-ranked losing team from the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1, 18 third and fourth placed teams from each group of the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 and the five winners from the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Playoff – will be divided into six groups of four teams each, where only the first placed team of each group will qualify to the AFC Asian Cup 2027.