CAF reveals new format for 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, draw pots revealed as Ghana is pitted in pot two

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has revealed a new format and the pots for the qualifiers of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, following the decision by FIFA to increase Africa’s quota from five to nine direct tickets.

The new format, which was approved by the Executive Committee in May will see the 54 Member Associations divided into nine groups of six teams each.

Games will be played on a round robin basis, and the top team from each group after Match Day 10, will earn an automatic qualification to the 2026 World Cup to be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Consequently, the best four second placed teams from across all nine groups will enter into a Continental play-off to determine one winner who will then proceed to a second and final play-off which will include six teams from the other different confederations.

The top two of these six will qualify for the World Cup to make up the 48 teams.

The qualifiers are scheduled to start in November this year, with Match Day One and Two scheduled for between 13-21 November, while the third and fourth match days are scheduled for June 2024.

The last match day will be in the week of October 6-14 while the Continental play-off will be staged between 10-18 November 2025 at a venue to be communicated later.

The FIFA Play-off tournament is scheduled for March 2026.

The Official Draw of the FIFA World Cup 2026 African Qualifiers will be held on July 12, 2023.

The draw will feature six pots that was arrived at due to the latest FIFA ranking which was released last Thursday. Teams ranked in the CAF’s top 8 will be in pot 1, from 9-16 in pot 2 and so on.

Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mali and Egypt find themselves in pot one. Four times African Cup of Nations (AFCON) winners Ghana miss out on a place in pot one.

The Black Stars who are targeting a place at the World Cup for the 5th time in their history are pitted in pot two alongside South Africa, Burkina Faso and so on.

At the Qatar World Cup last year, Africa was represented by Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia.

Morocco finished fourth and made history by becoming the first ever African country to reach the semi-finals. Senegal were knocked out in the round of 16, while Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia failed to go beyond their respective groups.

Below are the Pots

Pot 1: Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mali, Egypt

Pot 2: Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Guinea, Zambia, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea

Pot 3: Angola, Benin, Kenya, Mauritania, Congo, Uganda, Madagascar, Guinea Bissau, Namibia

Pot 4: Mozambique, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Malawi, Libya

Pot 5: Niger, Comoros, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Botswana, Liberia

Pot 6: Lesotho, South Sudan, Mauritius, Chad, Sao Tome, Djibouti, Seychelles, Eritrea, Somalia

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