AFC 2026 draw groups Japan, Saudi and Australia in race for two automatic slots

June 27 – Japan have been drawn with Saudi Arabia and Australia in what looks to be the toughest of the third round qualifying groups for the AFC Asian Qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

The Japanese are looking to qualify for the World Cup for the eighth consecutive time.

The final 18 teams left in qualifying were drawn into three groups of six earlier today in, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Only the top two teams in each group will qualify for the 2026 finals. Two further 2026 slots and a play-off spot are available for AFC nations.

The third and fourth-placed teams from the groups will go into a further two groups of three teams, with the winners of each group taking the last two AFC 2026 World Cup slots. The runners-up in each group advance will play-off home and away for the AFC slot in the inter-confederation play-offs.

Kyrgyz Republic, Indonesia and Palestine are making their debuts at this stage of the AFC Asian Qualifiers and a direct shot at World Cup qualifying.

The Kyrgyz Republic who are following up on their Asian Cup debut in January are drawn in Group A where top seeds Iran are looking to qualify for the World Cup finals for the sixth time.

Palestine, the breakthrough story of the last round of qualifying and who also broke their own national records at the Asian Cup by getting out of the group stage for the first time, have been draw in Group B with top seeds South Korea (10 consecutive World Cup appearances) World Cup and fellow West Asian challengers Iraq, Jordan, and Kuwait.

The AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to 26 will kick off on September 5 with the final round of matches scheduled for June 10, 2025.


Group A: IR Iran, Qatar, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyz Republic, DPR Korea

Group B: Korea Republic, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait

Group C: Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, China PR, Indonesia

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