July 27 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has held the draw for the first and second round World Cup 2026 qualifiers for the AFC’s potential nine slots at the expanded 48-team finals.
The first two rounds of qualifying will also serve as part of the qualifying process for the 2027 Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia
World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 will see 20 teams play off for 10 places in the Round 2 group stages. The 10 pairings will be played home and one away on October 12 and 17, 2023.
All nine group winners and group runners-up will advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying.
Those 18 teams also qualify directly to the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027.
The draw for the third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifying will be conducted in 2024, where the 18 teams will be divided into three groups of six; the top two from each group will qualify directly for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The other two direct AFC entrants will be determined in the fourth round of World Cup qualifying, with one more possible berth available via an Intercontinental Playoff.
Group A: Qatar, India, Kuwait, Afghanistan/Mongolia
Group B: Japan, Syria, DPR Korea, Myanmar/Macau
Group C: Korea Republic, China PR, Thailand,Singapore/Guam
Group D: Oman, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei/Timor-Leste
Group E: IR Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Hong Kong, China/Bhutan
Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia/Brunei Darussalam
Group G: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Cambodia/Pakistan
Group H: UAE, Bahrain, Yemen/Sri Lanka, Nepal/Laos
Group I: Australia, Palestine, Lebanon, Maldives/Bangladesh
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