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AFC FIFA 2026 World Cup: Everything to know about qualifying format, schedule, more

Eight teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will advance straight to the 2026 World Cup

By Web Desk
November 16, 2023
The winning trophy for the AFC Asian Cup. — AFC
The winning trophy for the AFC Asian Cup. — AFC

Asian qualification for the World Cup 2026 will be a difficult road that calls for several group stages at the very least — eight teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will advance straight to the 2026 World Cup, while the ninth team will compete in the inter-confederation playoffs in an attempt to qualify for the competition.

In 2026, the only continents with more teams participating are Africa and Europe.

Heung-min Son (Spurs, South Korea), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton, Japan), and Saman Ghoddos (Brentford, Iran) are three current Premier League players whose chances of making the World Cup will fluctuate over the next three years, despite the fact that they all play for teams who are favourites to advance.

The format, standings, and finally the tables are listed here as several countries compete to win the World Cup.

Asian (AFC) 2026 World Cup qualification format

First round (20 teams, home-and-away) (October 11–17, 2023)

Second round: nine groups of 36 teams; the top two from each group progress (November 2023–June 2024).

The World Cup will be played in the third round, which starts in September 2024, with 18 teams divided into three groups. The third and fourth-place teams will play in the fourth round.

Fourth round (starting in October 2025): two groups of six teams, with the champions of each group moving on to the World Cup and the second-place teams to the fifth round.

November 2025, the fifth round: two teams; the victor advances to the inter-confederation playoffs

Asian (AFC) World Cup qualification schedule — First-round fixtures, results

October 11

Afghanistan 1-0 Mongolia

Maldives 1-1 Bangladesh

Singapore 2-1 Guam

Yemen 3-0 Sri Lanka

Myanmar 5-1 Macau

Cambodia 0-0 Pakistan

Chinese Taipei 4-0 Timor-Leste

Indonesia 6-0 Brunei

Hong Kong 4-0 Bhutan

Nepal 1-1 Laos

October 17

Mongolia 0-1 (0-2 agg) Afghanistan

Bangladesh 2-1 (3-2 agg) Maldives

Guam 0-1 (1-3 agg) Singapore

Sri Lanka 1-1 (1-4 agg) Yemen

Macau 0-0 (1-5 agg) Myanmar

Pakistan 1-0 (1-0 agg) Cambodia

Timor-Leste 0-3 (0-7 agg) Chinese Taipei

Brunei 0-6 (0-12 agg) Indonesia

Bhutan 2-0 (2-4 agg) Hong Kong

Laos 0-1 (1-2 agg) Nepal

Asian (AFC) 2026 World Cup qualification schedule — Second round

November 16

Australia vs Bangladesh — 4am ET

Japan vs Myanmar — 5:02 am ET

South Korea vs Singapore — 6am ET

Philippines vs Vietnam — 6am ET

Thailand vs China — 7:30am ET

Malaysia vs Kyrgyzstan — 8am ET

Tajikistan vs Jordan — 8am ET

Turkmenistan vs Uzbekistan — 9am ET

Lebanon vs Palestine — 9am ET

Iran vs Hong Kong — 9:30am ET

Iraq vs Indonesia — 9:45am ET

Oman vs Chinese Taipei — 10am ET

UAE vs Nepal — 10:45 am ET

Qatar vs Afghanistan — 10:45am ET

Saudi Arabia vs Pakistan — 11:30am ET

Kuwait vs India — 11:30am ET

Syria vs North Korea — Noon ET

Yemen vs Bahrain — 1pm ET

November 21

Pakistan vs Tajikistan — 4am ET

Myanmar vs North Korea — 4:30am ET

Philippines vs Indonesia — 6am ET

Chinese Taipei vs Malaysia — 6am ET

Bangladesh vs Lebanon — 6:45am ET

Singapore vs Thailand — 7am ET

Vietnam vs Iraq — 7am ET

China vs South Korea — 7am ET

Hong Kong vs Turkmenistan — 7am ET

Uzbekistan vs Iran — 8am ET

Nepal vs Yemen — 8:15am ET

India vs Qatar — 8:30am ET

Palestine vs Australia — 9am ET

Kyrgyzstan vs Oman — 9am ET

Syria vs Japan — 9:45am ET

Bahrain vs UAE — 10:45am ET

Jordan vs Saudi Arabia — 11am ET

Afghanistan vs Kuwait — Noon ET

Asian (AFC) 2026 World

Asian (AFC) 2026 World Cup qualification tables — Second round groups

Group A

Qatar

India

Kuwait

Afghanistan

Group B

Japan

Syria

North Korea

Myanmar

Group C

South Korea

China

Thailand

Singapore

Group D

Oman

Kyrgyzstan

Malaysia

Chinese Taipei

Group E

Iran

Uzbekistan

Turkmenistan

Hong Kong

Group F

Iraq

Vietnam

Philippines

Indonesia

Group G

Saudi Arabia

Jordan

Tajikistan

Pakistan

Group H

United Arab Emirates

Bahrain

Yemen or Sri Lanka

Nepal

Group I

Australia

Palestine

Lebanon

Bangladesh