The 2022 FIFA World Cup will go down in history as the most “compact” tournament since the inaugural edition in 1930. All matches at the time were played within a hour’s drive of each other. But the next World Cup will connect three countries – the US, Canada and Mexico.
Africa qualifying for the 2026 tournament began on November 15, with the continent set to send a record number of countries to the newly-expanded global showpiece. While only five African countries were present at the 2022 World Cup, nine are guaranteed a spot at the next edition.
Eritrea’s Sudden Withdrawal Spoils CAF’s Plan
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will feature 48 teams, up from 32. There is even the chance for a tenth to qualify via an intercontinental play-off. With potentially double the number of teams securing a ticket to the next edition, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has updated the format.
The new qualifying format is for all African countries to participate in a larger group stage – with the 54 entrants split into nine pools. But CAF’s plans were somewhat spoiled recently, as Eritrea decided to withdraw from qualifying on November 10, leaving Group E with just five teams.
African Qualifying For 2026 FIFA World Cup
The first two matches in each group will be played between November 15 and 21. June 2024 will feature rounds three and four. The remaining six match days of World Cup qualifiers will be spread across the international windows in March, September and October 2025.
On the continent, only 13 countries have ever played at the World Cup. But an expansion of the global showpiece means there is a chance for some debutants. Each qualifying group for the upcoming tournament contains at least one side who have previously reached the World Cup.
What About 2030? FIFA Council To Reveal Soon
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held across 11 US cities, along with three venues in Mexico and two in Canada. Sustainability will, therefore, be an important issue with the substantial number of flights required to transport teams, officials, fans and media.
The 2030 tournament will be a special centenary event. Having hosted the first World Cup, which was contested by just 13 teams, Uruguay has claimed for some time that it should be awarded the tournament. A decision on the hosts will be made by the FIFA Council in 2024.