16 July 2019 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has changed the format for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying process – which will see African teams contesting a final playoff round – a system used for the Russia 2014 World Cup tournament.
For the next competition, the qualifiers will be divided into three rounds – the first two contested by all the teams with the last one featuring the last 10 standing.
The new format:
- First round:
28 teams (ranked 27–54) will play home-and-away over two legs
The 14 winners will advance to the second round.
- Second round:
40 teams (teams ranked 1–26 and 14 first round winners) will be divided into 10 groups of four teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches
The 10 group winners will advance to the third round
Bafana Bafana will feature from this stage
- Third round:
The 10 teams, which will have advanced from the second round, will play home-and-away over two legs
The five winners will qualify for the World Cup.
All 54 FIFA-affiliated football associations from CAF will enter qualification.
However, Libya complied after FIFA gave them a new deadline.
Africa has five qualifying slots and 54 sides chasing them.
Provisional dates for the qualifying process extend from October 2019 through to November 2021.
The draw for African qualifiers is expected to be at the end of July.
The allocation of slots for each confederation was discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee on 30 May 2015 in Zürich after the FIFA Congress. The committee decided that the same allocation as used in 2006, 2010 and 2014 would be kept for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments:
- CAF (Africa): 5
- AFC (Asia): 4 or 5
- UEFA (Europe): 13
- CONCACAF (North and Central America and Caribbean): 3 or 4
- OFC (Oceania): 0 or 1
- CONMEBOL (South America): 4 or 5
- Hosts: 1 (Qatar)
For the 2018 finals in Russia, there were two preliminary rounds to cut the field down to 20 countries, which then contested the five places for Africa in a group competition.
The qualification structure was as follows:
- First round: A total of 26 teams (teams ranked 28–53) played home-and-away over two legs. The 13 winners advanced to the second round.
- Second round: A total of 40 teams (teams ranked 1–27 and 13 first round winners) played home-and-away over two legs. The 20 winners advanced to the third round.
- Third round: The 20 teams which had advanced from the second round were divided into five groups of four teams to play home-and-away round-robin The winners of each group qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup.
This will be the first World Cup held entirely in Asia since the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.
In addition, the tournament will be the last to involve 32 teams, with an increase to 48 teams scheduled for the 2026 tournament.
This will also mark the first World Cup not to be held in May, June, or July; the tournament is instead scheduled for late November until mid-December. It is to be played in a reduced timeframe of around 28 days, with the final being held on 18 December 2022, which is also Qatar National Day.
The reigning World Cup champions are France.
The final draw is scheduled to take place in April 2022.
- Not all regional federations have announced their qualification process for the 2022 World Cup
- All FIFA member associations, of which there are currently 211, are eligible to enter qualification
- Qatar, as hosts, qualified automatically for the tournament. However, Qatar is obliged by the AFC to participate in the Asian qualifying stage as the first two rounds also act as qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup
- If they reach the final stage, their choice on whether to continue with World Cup qualifying is subject to FIFA approval
- If the hosts choose not to compete, the next-ranked team will advance instead
- For the first time after the initial two tournaments of 1930 and 1934, the World Cup will be hosted by a country whose national team has never played a finals match before
- The reigning World Cup champions France will also go through qualifying stages as normal.