Asian (AFC) 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Schedule, Results, and Standings

The road to the 2026 World Cup in Asia is set to be a grueling journey, featuring multiple group stages, inter-confederation playoffs, and fierce competition. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will send eight teams directly to the 2026 World Cup, with a ninth team aiming to secure its place through inter-confederation playoffs. In terms of team representation, only Africa and Europe will send more teams to the global soccer extravaganza.

Several current Premier League stars, such as Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur, South Korea), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton, Japan), and Saman Ghoddos (Brentford, Iran), are among the players who will experience the highs and lows of World Cup qualification over the next three years. Fortunately for them, their respective nations are considered strong contenders for World Cup qualification.

Here’s a breakdown of the Asian (AFC) 2026 World Cup qualification format:

First Round (October 11-17, 2023): In this stage, 20 teams will face off in home-and-away fixtures, battling for advancement.

Second Round (November 2023 – June 2024): This phase features 36 teams divided into nine groups, with the top two from each group progressing to the next round.

Third Round (commencing September 2024): Here, 18 teams will be divided into three groups, with the top two from each group earning direct qualification for the World Cup, while the third- and fourth-placed teams will have another chance in the fourth round.

Fourth Round (commencing October 2025): Six teams will compete in two groups, with the group winners securing their World Cup tickets, and the second-place teams moving on to the fifth round.

Fifth Round (November 2025): The final stage before the World Cup, with only two teams left, and the winner of this stage earning a spot in the inter-confederation playoffs.

For those following the journey closely, here are the fixtures and results from the First Round of the Asian (AFC) 2026 World Cup qualification:

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 on aggregate) Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) Maldives
  • Guam 0-1 (1-3 on aggregate) Singapore
  • Sri Lanka 1-1 (1-4 on aggregate) Yemen
  • Macau 0-0 (1-5 on aggregate) Myanmar
  • Pakistan 1-0 (1-0 on aggregate) Cambodia
  • Timor-Leste 0-3 (0-7 on aggregate) Chinese Taipei
  • Brunei 0-6 (0-12 on aggregate) Indonesia
  • Bhutan 2-0 (2-4 on aggregate) Hong Kong
  • Laos 0-1 (1-2 on aggregate) Nepal

As the qualification process unfolds, stay tuned for more updates, scores, and the eagerly anticipated qualification tables. The journey to the 2026 World Cup promises to be an enthralling one for football fans across the Asian continent.

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