The 2022 FIFA World Cup is the highly-anticipated sporting event next year. The host nation for this current edition is Qatar, which is a member of AFC, the football governing body in Asia.
The qualification process for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was started on June 6, 2019. A total of 203 national teams from each of the six confederations will vie to be part of the qualified nations which in turn will battle for the championship title.
The confederations of FIFA are the following: UEFA for Europe, CONMEBOL for South America, AFC for Asia, CONCACAF for North America and the Caribbean, CAF for Africa, and OFC for Oceania.
All confederations will simultaneously hold their own qualifying tournaments, and the process will determine which teams from the pool of winners in these matches will proceed to the competition proper.
This qualification process is set for a three-year period where the competition proper is scheduled on the fourth year in the cycle.
Today, we will be focusing on the football qualification process from the host nation’s region, the magnificent and diverse continent of Asia.
The AFC or Asian Football Confederation is the FIFA-affiliated governing body that presides over football matters in the region of Asia and Australia.
The FIFA organization allotted 4.5 slots to be qualified to compete for the World Cup. The slot consists of four direct slots from the qualifying rounds on which the 46 members of AFC participated.
The last slot is shared with CONMEBOL in which runners-up from both confederations will compete in intercontinental play-offs. The last slot will be plucked from the matches between the two regions.
The qualification process is different from other confederations like Europe which has a different format. The World Cup qualifiers Asia is divided into four rounds. The first two from these rounds are shared with the upcoming 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which means that whichever teams that are qualified for the World Cup is also automatically qualified for the other tournament.
In Round One, 12 teams will be pulled from the pool of nations ranked from 35 to 46, which all will compete in two-legged ties. The six champions from these ties will advance to the second round of the qualifying stage.
For the second round, 40 teams will participate in the round which consists of squads from the ranking between 1-34 plus the six winners from the previous round. The 40 national teams will be divided into eight groups consisting of five teams vie to play in a round-robin format of home-and-away matches.
The winners from each group plus four runners-up will proceed to the next round of the competitions. At this point, the teams that will proceed to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup will also be taken from these matches.
In Round Three, 12 national teams will be pulled from the second round and will split into two groups of six squads, all of which will play in a home-and-away round-robin format. The top-most two teams will be automatically qualified for the World Cup, while the third place will proceed to the fourth round.
Lastly, in the fourth round, the third team will compete in a play-off match with the other two winners, and will advance to the international play-offs against one winner from CONMEBOL.
Current Qualified Teams
As of writing, the only AFC nation that qualified for the World Cup is the host nation, Qatar. The qualification process for AFC is still ongoing due to several delays because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The intercontinental playoff is set between June 13 to 14 next year.
The AFC is full of formidable football players that can compete with their European counterparts. Qatar, an Asian nation, is granted an award for its record-holding preparation feats for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.