Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026?

With Asia receiving twice as many spots as in the previous edition, the 2026 FIFA World Cup will have the most number of teams in the competition’s history. We at Alley Sport are here to cover Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? The FIFA World Cup will include 48 teams instead of 32 in its next edition, making it the biggest event ever.

Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Image Credits:- The Bridge.
Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Image Credits:- The Bridge.

Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Preview

Confederations will be able to field a larger number of players in the main international event as a result of the tournament being longer and featuring more matches. Naturally, that opens the door for comparatively weaker countries to qualify for the World Cup in Asia.

Prior to now, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) only had four automatic slots and one additional position available through an inter-confederation play-off. Eight direct spots and one potential slot, to be determined by an inter-confederation playoff, have been allotted to Asia for the World Cup.

Asian nations can qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026 through five rounds of qualifying. Eight of the 46 teams that begin the competition are eliminated after the first four rounds and the victor of the fifth round advances to the inter-confederation play-off. Read Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Till the end.

The method of selection used in each round is as follows:-


Round 1: 10 teams from 20 – Teams rated 27–46 in Asia play two home-and-away matches against each other. Round 2 is open to the ten winners of this round.

Round 2: 18 out of 36 teams A pool of 36 teams is created by combining the 10 teams from Round 1 with the teams ranked 1-26 in Asia. After that, they are divided into nine groups of four teams. Each group’s champion and runner-up advance to Round 3.

Round 3: 6 teams advance to the World Cup – The teams are split into three groups of six, and each group plays the other team both at home and away. A spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026 is guaranteed for the top two teams from each group. Read Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Till the end.

Round 4: 2 teams advance to the World Cup. The teams who made it out of the third round are split into two groups of three teams each. At a neutral location, the teams will square off in a single game. Round 5 will be played by the runners-up from each group, while the champions will go to the World Cup.

Round 5: The winner of the two legs of play-off matches will advance to the inter-confederation playoff. One team from each round will advance to the playoffs.

India’s only chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026 is to place in the top two in the second and third qualifying rounds. India’s next opponent in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying round is Afghanistan, following victories and defeats against Kuwait and Qatar. Read Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Till the end.

On March 21, 2024, India will play Afghanistan in their next away FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying match. India will be looking to pick up as many points in its remaining group-stage games as possible to guarantee a top-two finish following a heartbreaking 3-0 loss to Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium.

India is now ranked third in the standings with three points after defeating Kuwait in their opening match. As per the standings in Group A following Game 2 of the second round, Qatar is ranked top, followed by Kuwait, India, and then Afghanistan. Read Can India Qualify For The World Cup In 2026? Till the end.

In the event that India places in the top two during the second round but is unable to place in the top two during the subsequent round then For India to be guaranteed a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026, they must win their group in the fourth round.

Another scenario is that, India must win its match in the fifth round to go to the inter-confederation play-off if it does not advance past the fourth round. Securing a spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026 is contingent upon winning the play-off.

Can India Qualify For FIFA World Cup 2026? Image Credits:- Sports Tiger.
Can India Qualify For FIFA World Cup 2026? Image Credits:- Sports Tiger.

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