The AFC determines the path to qualifying for the World Cup 2026 and the Asian Cup 2027

August 1 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has defined a four-stage qualification format for the 2026 Expanded World Cup which will see eight Asian teams qualify directly for the 48-team edition, and another Asian country in continental play. -Office.

The AFC will once again use the World Cup qualification process to qualify teams directly for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, the Blue Federation’s men’s national team tournament.

The AFC Executive Committee has approved a structure comprising of two preliminary rounds followed by the 18-team “Asia Qualifiers”.

This round will see three groups of six countries compete at home and away, with the first two groups from each group qualifying directly for the 2026 World Cup. All 18 teams in this round also qualify for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

The six third and fourth teams in each group are divided into two groups of three, with the group winners qualifying for 2026 and the teams finishing second playing on the intercontinental playoff slot.

The Asian Football Confederation said the structure of the competition is based on the entry of all 47 of its members.

Here are the full details of the 2026 World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers:

  • Preliminary Combined Qualification Round 1: Twenty-two teams, ranked from 26 to 47, will be selected for the home and away showdown, with the eleven winners advancing to the second round of the joint preliminaries.
  • Second Preliminary Joint Qualification Round: 36 teams – teams ranked 1-25 plus 11 first-round winners – will be divided into nine groups of four teams each, each competing in a round robin, home and away format, where the top two teams from each group – 18 in total – They will qualify for the Asian qualifiers.
  • Asia Qualifiers: 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 the Round Robin, the home and away format, with the two best teams from each group – six. In total – qualifying directly for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
  • Asian playoff match: 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 drawn into two groups of three teams each, competing as a one-round robin.
  • The two top-ranked 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 team will represent the AFC in the Intercontinental Qualifiers.

The 2027 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers from the first and second round of joint qualifiers will continue in parallel with the 2026 World Cup qualifiers:

  • Asian Cup Qualifiers: The 10 losing teams from the first round of the preliminary joint qualifiers will be drawn to compete at home and away, with the five winners advancing to the final round of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
  • The final round of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: 24 teams in total – 1 best-ranked losing team from Round 1 of the Preliminary Joint Qualifiers, 18 teams finishing third and fourth from each group in Round Two of the Joint Preliminary Qualifiers and the five winners of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers – will be divided into six groups of four each, as only the top-ranked team from each group will qualify for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup Finals.

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