AFC allocates pots for final round of 2026 World Cup qualifying draw

June 21 – The AFC has released the seeding pots for the final round of its 2026 World Cup qualifiers that will kick off in September 2024, completing in June 2025.

The AFC’s Road to 26 will see the 18 remaining teams drawn into three groups of six.

The top two finishers in each group will fill six of the eight available AFC slots, with two more on offer via the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to 26 Playoff and an additional opportunity to be contested at an Intercontinental Playoff.

While the AFC’s leading teams compete for 2026 slots, the other 18 teams from Round 2 will join the three best-ranked losing teams from Round 1 – Bhutan, Laos, Maldives – and the three winners from the three winners from the Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 play-offs to play the final round of qualifying for the 2027 Asian Cup finals. Six nations will join the already qualified 18 nations competing for 2026.

Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic and Palestine are making their debuts in the third qualifying round for World Cup qualification.

The draw will be held Thursday, June 27 at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Grand Ballroom, in Malaysia.

The six pots for the draw have been seeded according to the latest FIFA rankings:

Pot 1: Japan (17), Islamic Republic of Iran (20), Korea Republic (22)
Pot 2: Australia (23), Qatar (35), Iraq (55)
Pot 3: Saudi Arabia (56), Uzbekistan (62), Jordan (68)
Pot 4; United Arab Emirates (69), Oman (76), Bahrain (81)
Pot 5: China PR (88), Palestine (95), Kyrgyz Republic (101)
Pot 6: DPR Korea (110), Indonesia (134), Kuwait (137)

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