Asian teams set for next step on road to FIFA World Cup 26

Zurich (Switzerland), June 21 (UNI) The official FIFA World Cup preliminary draw – AFC Asian Qualifiers – will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on June 27 as the 18 remaining Asian Football Confederation (AFC) teams take their next step on the road to the most inclusive FIFA World Cup ever – the first edition to feature 48 teams.

The draw will be conducted by FIFA World Cup 26 Chief Tournament Officer – USA, Manolo Zubiria.

Two FIFA Legends will assist with the draw: ex-Japan international Shinji Okazaki and former IR Iran international Mehdi Mahdavikia.

The draw will divide the 18 countries still in contention into three groups of six teams with matches to be played in a group-stage format across September, October, and November 2024 and March and June 2025, according to a FIFA media statement.

The top two teams from each of the three groups (six teams in total) will advance directly to the FIFA World Cup 26, which will feature an unprecedented total of 48 teams across three host nations, Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

The third- and fourth-placed teams in each group (six teams in total) will progress to the fourth qualifying round. They will be split across two groups of three teams with matches to be played in October and November 2025 from which a further two countries will earn automatic qualifying places.

The runners-up in those two groups will then play off in a two-legged contest with the winner progressing to the FIFA Intercontinental Play-off Tournament, which will take place in March 2026 and offer the final chance for AFC teams to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 26.

Leave a Reply