‘Eight World Cup locations for Asia’ – How can Asian teams qualify for the 2026 World Cup?

The qualification formula for the 2026 World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup has been finalized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee.

Eight live spots and one slot from the highly anticipated Intercontinental Qualifiers have been allocated to the AFC after expanding the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams from 32.

What will the new qualification for the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup look like?

Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1

Twenty-two teams, ranked from 26 to 47 (among the Asian teams), will be drawn to face off in the first- and away-leg match, with the eleven winners advancing to the joint preliminary round of the second qualifier.

Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2

36 teams – teams seeded 1-25 (among Asian teams) plus 11 first-round winners – will be divided into nine groups of four teams each, each competing in the Round Robin, home-and-away format, where the best two teams from each group – 18 in total – to the AFC Asian qualifiers.

Asian Qualifiers (2026 World Cup)

The 18 teams, which also automatically qualify for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, will then be divided into three groups of six teams each, and compete in a league, both home and away, with the two best teams from each group – six. In total – qualifying directly for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

AIFF . modes

Asian Qualifiers (2026 World Cup)

The final round will consist of the third- and fourth-placed teams from all Asian qualifying groups – six teams in total. The six teams will be divided into two groups of three teams each, competing in the form of a single round robin.

The top two teams from the Asian groups will qualify for the 2026 World Cup Finals. The two second-placed teams from both groups will compete in a play-off to determine which side will represent the AFC in the Intercontinental Qualifiers.

Asian Cup Qatar 2019

Asian Cup Qualifiers

The 10 losing teams from the first round of the preliminary joint qualifiers will be drawn to compete in the home and away match, with the five winners advancing to the final round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

The final round of the Asian Cup qualifiers

24 teams in total – one losing team from the best qualifiers in the first round of the preliminary joint qualifiers, 18 teams finishing third and fourth from each group in the second round of the preliminary joint qualifiers and the five winners of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers – will be split. into six groups of four teams each, with only the first-placed team from each group qualifying for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

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