FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying format explained: CAF qualifiers, How do African teams qualify for World Cup?

FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying format explained: CAF qualifiers, How do African teams qualify for World Cup?

The 2026 World Cup Qualifiers for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) started on November 13 and is being held in stadiums across United States of America, Canada and Mexico.

With more slots up for grabs, we will see newer teams grace the World Cup in what is an already competitive and exciting continent for football. With stars like Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyadh Mahrez, Victor Osimhen and Achraf Hakimi featuring in the qualifiers, the fans are in for a treat.

How many African teams qualify for World Cup?

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup having an increased 48 teams in the running, Confederation of African Football (CAF), which previously had only five slots, will now have nine direct slots and one additional slot for the 10th team which will play in the inter-confederation play-offs.

How many countries are playing in the African (CAF) World Cup qualifiers?

A total of 54 teams were there initially but now that Eritrea has pulled out of the tournament, 53 teams will be competing for the 10 slots from Africa.

What is the qualification format for CAF 2026 World Cup qualifiers?

This is a new format introduced by the federation since the number of slots have increased from five to nine. The 53 teams are divided into nine groups of six teams each, with one group that will only have five teams.


Group Stage: These teams will play a home and an away game with each of its group member and in the end the top team in each group will qualify directly for the World Cup filling up nine slots already.

Play-offs: The four best second placed teams from all the groups will then be drawn into a mini-tournament with two semi-finals and final, and the winner will be the representative of CAF in the inter-conference play-offs.

Inter-confederation playoffs: The one qualified team from CAF will play in another mini-tournament with the one team each from CONMEBOL, AFC, OFC and two teams from CONCACAF. The two top teams from this tournament will fill the final slots of the 2026 World Cup.

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