2026 World Cup qualifying: All you need to know about Africa’s road to tournament

Published on: 16 November 2023

The journey for Africa's qualification to the 26th FIFA World Cup in 2026 has officially commenced, with key details on dates, format, and coveted tickets to the prestigious tournament now unveiled.

Qualifying Dates: The Africa Zone (CAF) qualifiers began on November 13, 2023, and will span until November 2025.

Tickets to FIFA World Cup 26: Nine African teams are guaranteed spots in the World Cup, with an additional team participating in the FIFA Play-Off Tournament.

Qualifying Format: The African qualifiers comprise two rounds. The first features a group stage, consisting of nine groups with six teams each. Teams will play home and away matches against their group opponents, with the top finisher from each group securing a direct qualification to World Cup 26.

The second round involves the four best runners-up, engaging in two one-off semi-finals and a subsequent final. The winner of this round advances to the FIFA Play-Off Tournament.

First-Round Groups:

  • Group A: Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti
  • Group B: Senegal, Congo DR, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Group C: Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho
  • Group D: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini, Mauritius
  • Group E: Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania, Niger, Eritrea
  • Group F: Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, The Gambia, Burundi, Seychelles
  • Group G: Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana, Somalia
  • Group H: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia, Sao Tome e Principe
  • Group I: Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chad

Qualifying Schedule:

  • 13-21 November 2023: 1st and 2nd matchdays
  • 3-11 June 2024: 3rd and 4th matchdays
  • 17-25 March 2025: 5th and 6th matchdays
  • 1-9 September 2025: 7th and 8th matchdays
  • 6-14 October 2025: 9th and 10th matchdays
  • 10-18 November 2025: CAF playoff tournament

FIFA Play-Off Tournament: Six teams will compete for the final two World Cup spots. This tournament involves two teams from Concacaf and one each from AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL, and OFC. The two highest-ranked teams skip the semi-finals, going directly to the finals. The winners of the bracket semi-finals will secure a place in FIFA World Cup 26.

Notable FIFA World Cup Appearances:

  • 8 – Cameroon
  • 6 – Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia
  • 4 – Ghana, Algeria
  • 3 – Senegal, Egypt, South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire
  • 1 – DR Congo (Zaire), Angola, Togo

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