FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualification: How can India qualify for FIFA WC?

The upcoming FIFA World Cup will grow in size, going from 32 to 48 teams. This expansion means more matches and more opportunities for confederations to be represented in the premier international tournament.


For Asia, this means that smaller and less dominant nations now have a chance to qualify for the World Cup.

How Many World Cup Slots Does Asia Get?

Asia has been granted eight direct slots in the World Cup, along with a possible additional slot to be decided in an inter-confederation playoff.

How Many Slots Does Each Continent Have?

Here are the allocations for each continent for the FIFA World Cup 2026:

  • Europe – UEFA – 16
  • Africa – CAF – 9 and one-third
  • Asia – AFC – 8 and one-third
  • Oceania – OFC – 1 and one-third
  • North and Central America – CONCACAF – 6 (3 hosts) and two-third
  • South America – CONMEBOL – 6 and one-third

How Many Spots Did Asia Previously Have?

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) previously had only four direct spots and an additional possible spot through an inter-confederation playoff.

RELATED: FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers points table LIVE: AFC standings

How Does World Cup Qualifying Work for Asia?

Asia’s World Cup qualification process involves five rounds. Forty-six teams start the journey, with eight teams ultimately making it through the first four rounds and the winner of the fifth round advancing to the inter-confederation playoff.

The process unfolds as follows through each round:

Round 1 – 10 teams from 20 – Teams ranked 27 – 46 in Asia play two matches against each opponent in a home-and-away format. The 10 winners in this round advance to Round 2.

Round 2 – 18 teams from 36 – Teams ranked 1-26 in Asia join the 10 teams from Round 1 to form a pool of 36 teams. They are then drawn into nine groups of four teams each. The winner and runner-up from each group qualify for Round 3.

Round 3 – 6 teams qualify for the World Cup – The teams are drawn into three groups of six teams each, with teams in each group playing against each other on a home-and-away basis. The top two teams from each group secure a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026.

Round 4 – 2 teams qualify for the World Cup – The remaining teams from the third round are drawn into two groups of three teams each. The teams will play each other in a one-off game at a neutral venue. The winners from each group will qualify for the World Cup, and the runners-up will enter Round 5.

Round 5 – 1 team into an inter-confederation playoff – The teams will play two legs on a home-and-away basis, and the winner will qualify for the inter-confederation playoff.

How Can India Qualify for the FIFA World Cup?

India must finish in the top two in the second and third rounds of the qualifiers to secure a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026.

Group A standings in the second round after Game 1:

Position Teams Matches Won Drawn Lost GF GA GD Points
1 Qatar 1 1 0 0 8 1 7 3
2 India 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 3
3 Kuwait 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
4 Afghanistan 1 0 0 1 1 8 -7 0

If India finishes in the top two of the second round but misses out in the next round:

  • India will need to win its group in the fourth round to secure a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026.
  • If India fails to qualify in the fourth round, it will have to win its match in the fifth round to qualify for the inter-confederation playoff. A victory in the playoff will secure India a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026.


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